In the ‘Nip’ of Time

It’s been a challenging time for us. These past fewyears have found us sitting in medical office waiting rooms surrounded by others in our age group waiting for a verdict we can hopefully live with. We hold hands as we count down the moments. What else can we do?

The challenges have changed over the years from earning a living, caring for children, running a home, making memories for grandchildren, and caring for aging parents. We’ve done all those things over nearly thirty years. We reminisce, reflecting on events and moments we hope never to forget, and laugh anew at something that tickled our fancy then and now. We’ve built a life and want more.

We know we are lucky to be dealing with only a few mechanical difficulties brought on by aging and overuse injuries. That type of qualifying classification of physical ailments helps us keep perspective, especially when one of us goes down for a count; and such relief when we rise again to take a few more gut punches displaying nothing by grit and resolve. As a team we are nearly unbeatable standing in each other’s corner.

We don’t project too far into the future any longer. Our goals are short-term. Our needs have become simpler on the one hand and much more important on the other. Our wants are in line with our current capabilities as our steel to survive and thrive remains focused and firmly entrenched in the “can do” mode of living. United we stand indeed.

I wonder, do couples become like a single living organism, two parts of a whole that must have the other in order to be fully alive? My independent soul has shunned the notion that I had to have this person in my life in order to be whole. But as the years have worn off the hard edges of my preconceived ideas of who I am, as I’ve become more willing and, frankly, more honest with myself, I’m coming to a new conclusion.

The whole marriage contract as developed over the ages seems to require the forsaking of the one for the embracing of the whole. The philosopher Joseph Campbell explained it that way. He said something like, a couple must leave behind the singularity of “the one” for the new structure, the partnership, and that the partnership becomes the one. I understood that frame of reference decades ago when I first heard it: now I understand it so much better as I live it everyday. We sacrifice the self to get something we need more – the one.

Recently I was chatting with a friend about husbands and we chuckled as we discussed how similar ours were to one another. She and her husband are a bit older then my husband and me, but the parallels are there. We laugh and then become serious. I say, “I wouldn’t be doing this well without him.” She pats my hand and says, “I know.”

People who need people are the luckiest people in the world …

When my father-in-law passed away, his second wife of just ten years was devastated. She had lost her first husband years earlier and was so happy to have Roland to live out these final years with companionship and love. They were two peas in a pod, everyone said. His sudden passing left her very much adrift. Only her faith sustained her, as her belief that she will see him again one day is the rock she stood upon.

I don’t have that kind of faith. I grasp the here and now, thankful for that much, not expecting more when the lights go out. I hold to the conviction that, if required, my independence would see me through. I hope that doesn’t get tested any time soon. I don’t want to find out I’ve built my house on sand.

As each day passes, as each step I take in my latest recovery reminds me that my dancing career may, in fact, be over, I hold tightly to each day, reminding myself it is my duty and privilege to bear whatever comes with as much grace as possible.

As I reach my hand out searching for something to hold onto, I find his reaching out to me. Our hands entwine, becoming one mighty unit holding each other up in a way we never dreamed would be necessary; but in that necessity, a stronger bond is found – the nip.

In The Ashley Book of Knotsthe author wrote: “To prevent slipping, a knot depends on friction, and to provide friction there must be pressure of some sort. This pressure and the place within the knot where it occurs is called the ‘nip’. The security of a knot seems to depend solely on its nip.”

In time a knot can meld, making it nearly impossible to untangle. The nip becomes a weld, I think, fused together through the friction of life’s many slings and arrows, as well as the easy laughter that comes when the humor isn’t lost. We have become and will remain each other’s nip in time.

This Mattapoisett Life

By Marilou Newell


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