Cheryl Hughes: What's Left
Saturday morning about 5:30 a.m., I stumbled into the kitchen, found a mug, and made myself a generous helping of instant coffee. In some part of my consciousness, I had noticed my husband, Garey, sitting at the table, reading a magazine. When I realized it was “The New Yorker,”—an actual article, not the cartoons—I had to smile. “The New Yorker” is not a magazine I would ever expect Garey to take seriously. Just when I thought I had known Garey long enough to be able to predict his every move, he’d surprised me.
Garey and I have been married for thirty-seven years. We’ve been through some really tough times together. Most of it we brought on each other. We are not, by a long shot, one of those couples you could hold up as an example to young married couples—unless it’s a “this is not the way you do it, turn back before it’s too late” example. I am glad we stuck it out, though. More importantly, I’m glad we didn’t just stick it out, we decided to give each other what we had left.
There was a time in my life when I looked at the mess we were, and I wanted to throw it all away and start over by myself somewhere far, far away. Running away is definitely more appealing than facing what went wrong and offering up what you have left. I’m glad I didn’t give up. If I had, I would have missed so much.
I would have missed being a grandparent with Garey. I wouldn’t have gotten to see him wrestle with Sabria or give her M&Ms or pick tomatoes with her in the garden. I would never have referred to him as PaPa, and he wouldn’t have called me Gee (I wanted to be Gan so bad, but Sabria would have none of it). We wouldn’t have taken turns pulling her in the Red Flyer wagon or blowing bubbles for her entertainment. We have laughed so much since Sabria came into our lives. I don’t know if she is funnier than our children were or if we just have a better since of humor.
If Garey and I hadn’t stuck it out, I would have missed the comments Garey has made about some of our youngest daughter’s boyfriends. My favorite involved one guy’s baggy pants that hung down below the waist of his boxer shorts. Nikki mentioned that the guy would enjoy doing some target practice with Garey. To which Garey responded, “The boy can’t hit his rear end with a pair of pants, there’s no way I’m giving him a gun.”
I would have missed the laughs I get over Garey’s weird clothing combos. Things like straw hat/overalls/American Eagle flip flops or gym shorts with lace-up work boots or an Alabama football cap over a purple bandana. Seeing Garey sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal wearing a wet wash cloth on his head in order to make his hair lay down is worth sticking around for.
I still struggle with regret, and occasionally it will pull the rug from under me, but the truth is I still have a choice to make at that juncture. Do I let the past determine my future or do I offer up what I have left to give? I’ve found that, more times than not, what’s left is more than enough to carry me through.