I had never known anyone with such an open heart until I met my wife, Marilyn. Certainly, that wasn’t me. I was never comfortable expressing or even feeling, my emotions. It just seemed too vulnerable. But not Marilyn, she feels everything so acutely. I knew that the moment she first opened her door eleven years ago. I could feel the radiance, like a ray of sun bursting through a storm cloud she penetrated the wall I had built around my heart and I was in love. Her heart is completely open, as if there is a superhighway right to the middle bringing emotions in and out with incredible ease and speed. I carefully throttle what I let in and, even more so, what I let out.
Sometimes I wonder how she makes it through the day with such an open highway right to her heart. Everything comes in completely unfiltered. As we sit and watched the news the other night about the devastating earthquakes in Turkey, I am thinking, Wow that’s horrible, and she is nearly sobbing. I can’t help but wonder why someone would intentionally let in all that pain.
When she sees an injustice, her anger comes immediately to the surface. For those who know me well, I am sure you can see how I may have been on the receiving end of that a time or two. Unlike me, however, there is a flash and it’s over. The energy is gone. I hang on to it. I have a special storage place where I keep that anger. A place where I feed it, let it grow and develop into far more than it could ever be on its own until it overtakes everything, and I can no longer keep it in. Since the road to my heart isn’t the same superhighway as Marilyn’s it comes out in short little bursts of passive-aggressive behavior. I hate that about myself, and I am working on it.
When she loves, it is with her whole heart, which is immense. You can feel it, just as you can feel a warm fire on a cold day. It warms your soul, and hers. I imagine that is the answer to my question above. By opening her heart and letting everything in she brings in not only the sorrow but the love and it, in many ways, it is the fuel that makes her feel alive. There is a lot I have learned and continue to learn from my wife when it comes to opening my heart. I’m far too controlled with my emotions, but life with Marilyn can’t help but change a person for the better.
People are important to her. Not just her family and friends. If you are in the dry-cleaning business, you want Marilyn as a customer. When we moved out of Boulder shortly after we got married in 2013, we still had to drive back into Boulder to the same dry cleaner, passing at least five others on the way. After a few years, I finally convinced her to make a change, but only after we made a special trip for a tearful goodbye. The same is true for grocery stores, auto mechanics, accountants, and countless others. She is loyal, almost to a fault. Lucky for a guy like me, to be one of “her people.”
In 2014, knowing that the day would come when I would no longer be able to ride a motorcycle, she suggested that we get a bigger bike so that we can explore Colorado and the surrounding states together on. We purchased a Harley Davidson Ultra, by far the nicest bike I have ever owned or ridden. We traveled all over Colorado and the Mountain West region as well as the Blueridge Parkway on the east coast before I had to stop riding. I would have never spent the money for such a motorcycle, but she was a big believer in making sure that we could experience that while we could. She is so at ease living in the moment. I have lived far too much of my life in the past or in the future. She teaches me every day how to be more present.
In 2016 she gave me one of the most thoughtful Christmas gifts I have ever received, a camera. Who buys a guy who is losing his eyesight a camera? Marilyn does. She knew I had a passion for photography, but I was far too pessimistic about my visual capabilities. Not my wife. The camera turned out to be one of the greatest gifts I ever received. It opened my eyes and my heart to so much of the beauty that is all around us every day. It literally changed the way I see the world.
She clearly got the short end of the stick with me. I love my wife with my whole heart, but it's just not as big as hers, so I can only fall short of showing her all the love she deserves. I will keep trying because I know just how lucky I am to have a wife, partner, and best friend like Marilyn.
Life with Marilyn has made me want to feel more. More love, more pain, more happiness, more sorrow. In a word, more life. If I may steal from one of my favorite movies,
She makes me want to be a better man.