On Friday night, my best friend got engaged! Engagements are always exciting, but for my best friend, this engagement was especially sweet. BF (as I’ll call her) has had an especially rough time the past few years. Since about 2006 everything that could go wrong for her pretty much has. Around 2006, BF’s mom was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. It was a difficult kind of cancer and survival rates were not good. Upon learning this news BF packed up her life in Florida and moved to Wisconsin to help her family. And for a long time, BF did whatever she needed to do to help her mom and family. She took her mom to doctor appointments and handled at-home medical procedures. She did the family grocery shopping. She helped her youngest brother with his homework. She did whatever it took. That’s the kind of person she is.
And then, her mother died. A couple of weeks after her mother’s services, while BF was still living at home (and carrying out her mother’s request that she look after her youngest brother until he graduated high school), BF learned that her father had a girlfriend – as in, two weeks after her mother’s death her dad and the girlfriend took a trip out of the country together. BF is a smart girl, she knew what this meant. Her relationship with her father quickly deteriorated, and over the course of the next two years, BF essentially lost contact with her father, a once-favorite aunt, and (to a lesser extent) her three brothers. Essentially, in losing her mother, BF lost her entire family.
But BF persevered, holding a good job and eventually buying her own condo. BF developed an amazing network of friends that I’ve come to view as her family. BF truly made a new life for herself and made a go of things. But she remained unlucky in love. Until now.
This summer, a few friends of ours from high school got together. All of us except for BF were married, and all of us except BF had a kid. BF endured what had to be a painfully long get-together talking about marriage, kids and all of the things BF wished she had but was convinced would never be hers. Being high school friends, however, we used the age-old tactic of peer pressure and convinced BF to try an on-line dating service. BF had tried these before, but with mixed results. We encouraged her to try again, and promised to get back together in a month to hear the outcome.
And here we are, five months later headed for bridal bliss! I’m so happy for her that I can’t even put it into words. After all that she’s been through, she deserves to be happy. I’m so excited to help her plan her big day, look for dresses, taste cake, whatever she wants me to do. And, as icing on the proverbial cake, last night, she culminated our sixth-grade pact and asked if I would be her maid of honor. There is nothing I would love to do more!
In the natural course of thinking about what an exciting part of her life BF is about to start, however, I started thinking about how far my own relationship with Husband has changed since our own super-exciting engagement. Like many couples, Husband and I have peaks and valleys in our marriage. There are times when we click and everything seems to be perfect and there are times when I wonder how we got here. To say that things haven’t been great lately would be putting it nicely. We’ve both been under a lot of pressure at work – with his job laying off hundreds of people every quarter and my insane trial schedule quickly closing in. Add to that two toddlers, extended families, outside obligations, the inanities of every day life and now the holidays and you’ve got a lot of things to argue about.
The truth is, Husband and I have been doing a terrible job of putting effort into our marriage lately. We’ve let a million things distract us, and “us” hasn’t even made the radar screen. We’ve let work and kids and a bunch of other things override the amazing joy of sharing our lives together. We’ve lost the forest for the trees.
BF’s engagement was a wonderful chance to share in someone else’s love. And it was great to remember when we once felt that way too. In celebrating with BF, I realized that nothing with Husband and I has changed except our priorities. And our marriage needs to be a little further up the list. Like BF and her fiancé, Husband and I once felt like we could conquer the world, simply because we had each other. And like BF and fiancé, we still can. Thank you, BF for such a great reminder. We look forward to sharing in your love for years and years to come!