“Mom, Who Are You Voting For?”

Last night at dinner, the dinner conversation turned to politics, which is a new phenomenon since I’m apolitical. I don’t do politics. But I’ve somehow gone and married a man who is as political as I am not. He has views and strategies, agendas and plans, and he loves to talk about them. So I am learning. And now my dinner conversations involve names like Donald and Hillary.

The boys make bold statements about things they know very little about. Who is good, who is bad, whom they’d like for us to vote for based on whom we should be afraid of and why. They know just enough to be dangerous. Probably like most of us, I dare say.

Peter said, “Men, here is something that will be true at this dinner table: you can feel however you feel, and you’re welcome to any opinion. But you have to have a reason for it. You can’t just declare a viewpoint without knowing why you’ve made that decision. So if you make a statement about something you believe, I’m going to ask you to defend it.”

Tyler said he’d like for none of us to vote for Trump because if he becomes president, then one of his classmates is leaving the country. He’d like for his friend to stay in the United States, and preferably in his very own fourth grade classroom next year, so nobody is allowed to vote for Trump. And then he added, “And anyway, we should just vote for Hillary because she’s a girl, and that’s a whole new beginning. I mean, that’s history in the making, Mom. We should have a girl for president. That would be the first time.” All hail the beauty of raising boys who dig smart girls.

And then Tyler added, “Also, Trump wants to build a fence around our country to keep people out, and I think that’s a terrible thing.”

And Tuck said, “But also the Mexicans are sneaky and they try to get in and we should keep them out.”

And Tyler said, “They come for a month and they get their papers, but then they try to stay longer and it’s not fair or legal.”

Wow. There’s a whole lot of half-information happening here.

Peter said, “Guys, let’s talk about this. Do you know what the word ‘immigration’ means?”

They heard the word ‘migration’ in that bigger word, which reminds them of the stingrays in Finding Dory (which you should see because we gave it all the thumbs up), who taught us that ‘migration’ means ‘going home.’

Peter said, “Yes, you’re right. And our country was founded by immigrants, people who came here from Europe because they wanted a better life than the one they had. And it has always been true that anyone from anywhere can come and live here, as long as they go about it the right way. They can come and apply for citizenship, and then they can live here if they are willing to pay taxes and follow the same rules that apply to all of us.”

Tyler said, “So, it’s kind of like getting on a cruise ship?”

We just got back from our honeymoon cruise, so discussions of cruises are all the rage at our house. The boys speak confidently, as if they themselves are Cruise People. Also, ever since our wedding reception, they have grown accustomed to raising their glasses and giving a toast. At nearly every meal, someone underage is giving a toast with his glass of milk, calling us all to raise our glasses in the name of families or for Peter or for all the dads in the world or ultimately for the good of mankind or for SpongeBob.

I couldn’t see how immigration issues are like a cruise ship, but I’ve learned to let him speak his analogies before I shut them down. “How is it like that?”

Click Here to read the rest of the dialogue in my PJ Media article:
How My Husband and I are Talking to Our Kids About the Election.

IMG_3307

Drinking Big Gulps of This Life

I have a friend who says her favorite days of life are the days following a headache.  She has chronic migraines, and they come to stay.  So when one is gone for a brief amount of time, everything about her world is better, happier, brighter, and more hopeful.  She says she never feels better than when she has felt so sick, and that always happens on the Day after a Headache.

I think I’m living in a metaphorical and ongoing Day after a Headache.  It’s just so stinking good.  Ridiculously good.

It’s possible that you’re going to get tired of hearing about how well things are going in my little abode.  But I write what’s true, and the truth is, it’s going well.  I’m kind of sorry about that, in a ‘sorry-not-sorry’ kind of way.  ‘Sorry’ only in the sense that I hope the angry readers are the kind of people who can still be friends with a not-angry person.

Peter and I have been married for 23 days. I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been in my entire life. You guys, like, the happiest ever. I mean, I have had some crazy happy seasons.  But just like you never feel so good except for when you’ve felt so sick, I think one is never quite so happy except for after she has been so sad.

When your heart has healed, the joy is unspeakable.

One morning last week, I told my mom, “We had the most magnificent night together last night.  Best.  Night.  Ever.  We decided to eat outside on the deck, and Peter and I put together a spread concocted of burgers and pork chops and salads of several kinds, followed by ice cream and an evening of “all three of my boys” playing catch in the yard for an hour.  I felt like Normal Rockwell could pay a visit at any moment to paint a picture of my backyard scene.

It may sound like no big deal, but this everyday scene is what I’ve missed to my core.

There are things I’ll never again in my life take for granted.  Baseball in the backyard.  Two toothbrushes by the bathroom sink.  A man whistling in the kitchen.  Pillow talk.  Somebody else’s towel drying on the rack. The sounds and smells of coffee brewing in a pot, not the Keurig, because it’s percolating for more than just one person. Someone to help carry the dinner conversation with the boys.  The way his leg brushes against mine in the night, and I know everything in the world is okay.

I hadn’t been able to write in several days.  It’s a normal part of the creative arc, a part every artist knows – the dry spells when your mind is busy doing other things and there’s no room for creating.  For me, it usually happens when I’m busy creating something else.

Like, for example, a family.

On that night when the boys all played catch in the backyard, I felt this stirring in my heart, gentle like butterflies but persistent like an itch.  It took me a moment to identify it.  Ah, yes. Hello, old friend, I know you. You are the Urge to Write.  I ran to get my journal and favorite pens.  I didn’t write, because I didn’t want to miss anything else that was happening in or around me.  But I just had to keep the notebook close, just in case.

Peter caught a fly ball in his mitt, and then looked over at me with my notebook close by.  “Something’s brewing, I see.”  Indeed.  Something is brewing.

My friend Donna said this morning, “I’m so delighted for you, and I can’t imagine the weight lifted. To have someone to carry the weight, to lift the burden, to do life with you. Just to have a companion. Just to have a buddy. I love this for you.”Gulps

I love this for me too.  I am so glad I didn’t give up before the rainbow appeared.

I want to drink big gulps of this life of mine.

 

Someone Else’s Wife

Hi, Robb,

I’m a wife.  Again.

I’ve written to you lots over the last five-and-a-half years, over our two thousand days apart, nearly half the number of days we ever had together.  Today marks a new day, a new letter.

I’m Mrs. Trish Heyer now. (Pronounced “Higher.”)

The world often asks me about my name, what I’ll do with this whole mess of initials and maiden names and married names. I’ll still have your name in my writing name, because it turns out this is “a brand” now, and publishers and editors like for brands to stay consistent even when lives change and people make promises and start new chapters off the page. So I’ll continue to write under this name, my first married name, your name.

I have to tell you about this book I just finished reading, and I’m a little furious about it.  Just in case you might read it, on the off chance that this book is stocked in heaven and the perfectly New You likes to read now, or in the slightly more likely case that someone reading this might later read that, I’m not divulging the title.  No spoilers here, no sir.  Anyway, stay with me.

Someone recommended it to me, insistent that she had never fallen in love with two characters more than these two, insisting I must read as quickly as possible. In that way that I do, I did no research on the book, but I just picked it up and dove in. As it turns out, it’s a brilliant love story. This girl is looking for a job, and she is hired on a six-month contract to be a caregiver for a man, a 35-year-old quadriplegic. Of course they hate each other at first, and of course they strike up a friendship, and of course they ultimately fall in love. But we learn a few chapters in that she is only hired for a six-month contract because that’s the length of time he has agreed to live. He has tried to kill himself, and he has his mind set on suicide. His family hires her to be his friend, his companion, and to try to change his mind. And up until the very last pages, we, the readers, don’t know which way it will go, whether he will choose life or assisted suicide.

 

On the very last page, she is sitting in a Paris café, reading a letter from him. He wrote and addressed it for her to read after his death, and today is the day. She learns in the letter that he has left all of his money to her, to provide for her unemployment but also to give her a path to a new life after him.

And then he writes his goodbye to her,

So this is it.

You are scored on my heart. You were from the first day you walked in, with your ridiculous clothes and your bad jokes and your complete inability to ever hide a single thing you felt. You changed my life so much more than this money will ever change yours.

Don’t think of me too often. I don’t want to think of you getting all maudlin. Just live well.

Just live.

I was so mad. It was awful and tragic and so very, very, very sad. And I was angry with the guy for dying and with the author for writing it and just all together mad at the world of storytelling. Of course I should be angry with myself for sticking with it, but that actually only made me impressed with the author for drawing me in so completely that I couldn’t look away from this train wreck of a love story that captivated me so entirely.

And then suddenly, I was The Girl, and The Man’s words were your words. I realized how you had made a way for me before you died, how you wanted more life for Me After You. You didn’t know you were going, not like the protagonist in this story, and yet somehow I think you knew just the same. And you made a way for me to live, breathe, and stretch my arms wide into the new life without you.

And so, my first love, here I am, now somebody else’s wife. And I hear your voice in words from the book: Don’t think of me too often. Just live well. Just live.

I believe I will.

I’ve said goodbye to you a million times in a thousand ways.  This is a new way on a new day.

So long, sweetheart. It was real, and it was good, and it was ours. We had ten years together, and I’ve done half that again without you. And now I begin a new chapter with a new man and a new name and a new life.

I will think of you less, only because I must.  But I will always think of you when I feel the sun on my shoulders, when it feels warm and I pretend it’s not burning my skin, even though it will be pink in a matter of time. That will always make me think of you.

And I will always think of you during football season, when Ohio State plays and wins, and when the marching band strikes up the fight song. And I will think of you every single time our son throws a winning pass, which seems to happen very nearly every Saturday. I hope you’re watching him. He is you.

And I will always think of you when I sing How Great Is Our God. I can still hear you singing beside me. And I wonder what your voice sounds like now.

And I will think of you when it is Christmas.

And when I drink root beer floats.

And likely a few times every single day when I’m not expecting to, I will think of you. This is how it has been, how I suspect it will always be.  Because I was your wife, and you are scored on my heart.

But in my heart, I can’t be married to more than one person.  And now I am Peter’s wife. And every part of this marriage is as sacred as the one I shared with you.

Except, I confess this time around, that I am terrified to love this hard again. Losing you changed me. Courage isn’t my fearless go-to anymore. It’s the default, the only choice left. If I’m going to live at all, I must live well. And living well is a courageous thing to do.

So, I have loved again, now fully knowing what it means to have all my chips on the table. It means I can lose. But it also means I can win. Big.

So I will do this.

It was a good life, ours. Thank you for letting me practice on you.  I think I’m better at it now.

See you on the flip, kiddo.

Love,

Tricia

P.S. Could you please visit Peter in a dream? I want him to know you. Please stop by sometime, just like you visit me. He’s expecting you.

Vows and Promises

I have so many, many things to tell you about the wedding (where the sun shined through an 80% chance of rain and my new husband twirled me most gloriously around a dance floor), our honeymoon (where we became famous on a Newlywed game show; please hide your surprise), and the spectrum of my heart’s thoughts and capacities in these first days of married life and family transitions and answered prayers.  But does it ever happen to you that you have more to say than you can find words for? Because something like that is definitely happening.  Very definitely happening.

VowsSome of you have asked about the vows and promises Peter and I made to one another at our wedding.  We wrote them ourselves, careful to make promises that are attainable and keepable.  Peter said later, “I thought I would be emotional to make those vows to you, but in the moment, I just knew that these were words to proclaim over you.”

And proclaim we did.

My new husband said to me:

Tricia, today I promise you this:
I will choose you every day,
Giving you the best that I have
and all of my faithfulness.
I will love you with my words and my actions,
My decisions and my commitments.
Your name will be safe on my lips,
And I will always honor and protect your name.
Every day of our life together,
I will kiss you and make you laugh.
I will remind you how beautiful you are to me.
I will encourage you,
I will listen to you,
I will tell you what’s on my heart.
I will never give up our greatest advantage: these conversations.
I will chase after God as I chase after you,
Knowing that He is the author of Love
And He deserves the greatest glory and praise of our marriage.
I will honor and love your children, Tucker and Tyler, as part of our family,
And I will raise them as my own.
I will love you with all that I have and all that I am,
And I will make your life better than it was without me.
I will be the keeper of your story,
As we write this one together.
You are my heart’s song,
And I will love you for as long as we both shall live.

And in response, I declared:

Peter, today I promise you this:
I will choose you every day,
Giving you the best that I have
and all of my faithfulness.
I will love you with my words and my actions,
My decisions and my commitments.
Your name will be safe on my lips,
And I will always honor and protect your name.
Every day of our life together,
I will kiss you and make you laugh.
I will remind you of your strength and your leadership.
I will encourage you,
I will listen to you,
I will tell you what’s on my heart,
I will never give up our greatest advantage: these conversations.
I will chase after God as I chase after you,
Knowing that He is the author of Love
And he deserves the greatest glory and praise of our marriage.
I will honor and love your children, Jack and Natalie, as part of our family.
I will love you with all that I have and all that I am,
And I will make your life better than it was without me.
I will be the keeper of your story
As we write this one together.
You are my heart’s song,
And I will love you for as long as we both shall live.

* * *

Some of you have asked if you can borrow our vows to speak at your own wedding. And to that we say, Yes.  We are most deeply honored that you might make our promises your own.

We just have one very important request: Keep them.

 

Once Upon a Second Time, I Got Married.

Gallery

This gallery contains 23 photos.

And then there were four.