Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Love, War and An Egg Salad Sandwich

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 by Sara Mattinson.

“By the way, that egg sandwich you made for me on Monday was awesome,” my husband said to me a couple of years ago.
 Of course it was. Not because of how I made but because I made it anyway. 
Let me explain:
I’d come home the Friday before with my head all wrapped up in a good meeting with a writing mentor while Dwayne had been to the doctor and learned his bronchitis had become walking pneumonia. We were on different clouds, 9 and black, and what was going on in each other’s lives was so different, so opposite on the scale of good and bad that we started to nit and pick and ended up resentful the whole weekend. 
I was nagging because he wasn’t slowing down and taking care of himself, and he was annoyed because he was feeling like crap and his wife was nagging. 
On Sunday night, I was putting his lunch together when he asked, “What are you boiling eggs for?”
I said, “For lunch,” and let him believe it was my lunch since if I told him they were for his, he’d say, “Don’t worry about my lunch,” then end up buying it. 
Giving him foods that will nourish and energize him throughout a long, busy day is my way of taking care of someone who doesn’t accept that he needs, and deserves, to be taken care of as well.
This is what makes a marriage good: Taking care. Cherishing. Making a sandwich with love. 
What makes a marriage last is that you do it no matter what.
On the same day that he complimented my sandwich, I’d come across the following quote from James A. Baldwin: ‘Love does not begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.’
After I read it out loud from my notebook, I looked at Dwayne and said, “How does this relate to an egg sandwich, you’re wondering!” and he laughed because he was.
Making my husband’s lunch as usual meant I was not letting the battle we were engaged in all  weekend change the way I treated him. No matter what was going on, I continued to take care. To cherish. There was no tit-for-tat, no game-playing, no holding back.  And it was this, the idea of not holding back, that made me appreciate how important trust is. 
Having freedom and trust in any relationship, whether as friends, siblings or partners, is a wonderful feeling. It’s that feeling deep in your bones that ‘If I fall, you will catch me.’ It’s knowing that no matter what you say or do, at least one person cares, will take you in, will watch your back. Being that sure of someone makes it possible to take on the rest of the world every day. It makes it possible to put together someone’s lunch even when things get a little rough.
This is how love becomes a growing up.
“And that’s why I made you an egg sandwich that was as awesome as usual,” I told my husband.
And he laughed again because he thought he was simply eating a really good sandwich that his wife made him because she loves him.

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