I have a confession to make: I used to complain about my husband.
Yes, I have to admit that Rick, my perfect husband, the man I adored so much in life, was actually not so perfect, after all. And at times, when I was out with friends, or particularly aggravated by some of his failings or bad habits, I bitched about him.
It was the usual type of complaining women so often do: Every time I get up from a chair and leave the room, I take something with me to put away. But Rick! He walks right past an empty glass. AND, another thing… he doesn’t even notice the laundry basket waiting to be taken downstairs and walks down the stairs empty handed! Oh, and he can’t find ANYTHING – especially in the refrigerator. How hard can it be to find a ketchup bottle? I just move one thing, and there it is. Why can’t he do that?
Innocuous complaints. Harmless chatter among friends. And, now, looking back to those occasions, I pray there wasn’t a widow within hearing distance. And if there was, I owe her my most humble apology, and my condolences.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you heard me, us, complaining about our spouses. I’m so, so very sorry, because now I get it.
As a widow, I now get how awful it can be to hear a woman who is still blessed with a living, breathing, loving husband complaining about him. And how much control you must have had to not get up and tell her off. To go over and tell her to shut up and go home and love that man. To remind her that life is short, and he may not be around to complain about in another year, or two.
I’d want to ask that eavesdropping widow, how much strength did it take you not to shake me, and advise me to be thankful he’s alive? To strongly suggest that I go home and kiss him and hug him and never let go, because, someday, he may not be here to bitch about?
Someday, you’d do anything to go back and help him find that ketchup. You’d buy him a dozen bottles. You’d wish with all your heart and soul to have him back, to see him standing bent over, between the open fridge doors. To see his huge shoulders leaning into the open refrigerator, while he stared bemused at the shelves of food, yelling, Gerry! I can’t find it! Come help me.
Who cares about the laundry at the top of the stairs? the socks on the floor? the giant, size 14 shoes you trip over in the night? Who friggin’ cares? If you’ve still got the man you love, then just love him. That’s what the widow in the room is thinking. That’s what she’s biting her tongue not to say.
Yes, I get it now. Last week, I was the widow in the room. I listened to the women and their innocuous complaints, and I know they love their husbands. I know it was just some type of “girl talk” thing. I know it, and I really don’t hold it against them. But it hurt a bit, listening to those women who still have their husbands not seeming to appreciate what they are so blessed to have.
And, although, when he was alive, I did complain about Rick now and then, there was one thing I never complained about: his snoring. And, man, could that big man saw some logs! But before I met Rick, at age 39, I had never married. I was waiting to meet my soulmate, after all, and who knew it would take nearly 40 years for him to come along?
But in those 20 or so adult years as a single woman, I slept each night in a very, very quiet bed. So when Rick and I began to share a home and a bed, and I heard his fulsome snore, I relished it! I remember thinking at the time, I will never complain about his snoring, never, never, never. Because I appreciate what it means to have a man who loves me as much as he does, sleeping by my side in this bed, and a little night music never hurt anyone.
Throughout our twenty-one years together, I may have teased Rick about his snoring a few times (and he joked about my weird night noises, too), but I never truly complained. And to all those women out there bitching about their husbands, I have one thing to say: I hope and pray that you’re never a widow trying to get some rest in a quiet, empty bed, because the silence is deafening, and it’s nearly impossible to sleep through it. So tonight, count your blessings, give that man a big kiss, and hold on tight. Someday, you may be grateful you did.