This last week I decided to give Princess a bath. She was looking rather shabby and it was becoming an embarrassment to take her out and about in public. So I spent a good chunk of my day off scrubbing and polishing. Princess looks amazing!
Princess is my cherry-red, Sebring convertible. I vacuumed and polished the interior and scrubbed the wheels so they would shine. I know this all sounds ridiculous. At least I always thought men who loved their car were...ridiculous.
My husband loved his car. It was a gold Park Avenue. I called it the "geezer car" because it was the kind of car that old men would drive. It didn't matter how much I mocked it or how much I hated driving it (it was way too big for me and I felt lost and small behind the wheel), David loved his car and was quite proud of it.
So I was surprised when one day he announced we were going to the dealership to trade in his "baby". David was 5 months into his 9 month sentence with cancer and so I assumed it was the drugs talking and told him we didn't need to do that. He wasn't able to drive anymore and I didn't want to waste what time we had together dealing with car salesmen. David insisted and so I climbed behind the wheel of his car and we headed out to a dealership a good 20 miles from our house. (It's nearly impossible to tell a dying man no). David insisted on that dealership but would not tell me why. I thought perhaps the medicine was impacting his thinking. When we arrived the salesmen already had the car we would be buying waiting for us and that's when I met Princess. David traded in his "baby" to buy me that red convertible I had mentioned to him I wanted to drive someday. I always thought my "someday" was just wishful thinking and assumed I would spend my life driving the minivan I called the "mom mobile". Every time we passed one of those cars on the road I would say to David, "that's going to be my car someday." Who knew David was actually paying attention?!
So... I love my car! Not only is a sporty convertible with lots of style and fun, it wraps me in love every time I get in it. Princess (yes, I've named the car. I know that means I've joined the ranks of the car-fanatics. I don't care.) Princess reminds me of David's love for me and not just everyday, ordinary love. It points me to a self-sacrificing love that is rare and precious.
I love telling this story and I tell it often; every time someone asks me why a middle-aged, conservative pastor is driving a red sports car. I tell them of David's love and how wonderful it is to feel the wind in my hair.
Here's the point: (Yes, there really is a point to this drive down memory lane) David and I were married for almost 27 years. There were many occasions where David's actions or words were less than self-sacrificing. There are many memories where... let's just say I don't feel the love. Anytime two people live together that closely that long there's going to be some ugly moments. If I tried I could remember some really hurtful words spoken and some truly disappointing actions. I choose to remember Princess. I have made a deliberate choice to forget the ugly and embrace the loving. I believe it has been key in assisting me to heal and prevented me from becoming one of those angry, bitter, resentful women who feel abandoned and forgotten by the ones they love.
That's not to say I don't have my moments. Yesterday was the Fourth of July and I have always spent that day with my family around me, grilling and laughing and eating together. Yesterday I did not. There were good reasons the kids weren't with me and so I chose to get in the car and put down the top and "feel the love" rather than pout and cry about what I've lost. It's a choice and some days it takes more effort than others but it's the best choice I can make. I'm making lemonade out my lemons. I'm putting the best spin on a bad situation.
You can say I'm not dealing with reality or that I'm wearing rose-colored glasses. I don't care. The glasses match my car!
Embrace the loving memories as often as you can. Give me a call... I'll take you for a spin. Princess loves company!