It was so warm this week that Tom and I went out after he returned home and took our first real walk of the season. The last little dirty piles of snow from the bitterly cold winter had melted, and the late afternoon air was filled with the promise of spring.
Conversation with Tom is one of my life’s chief pleasures, and we get so deep in discussion at times that I forget where we are walking. There is a big hill that leads to our home, and last summer when Em and I did our three-mile walk several times a week, that hill was a killer at the end. (It always makes me smile to think that my sister, who is two years younger, tosses off marathons and half-marathons, while I congratulate myself on walking for a mile or two.)
My sister has mentioned the last stretch of the Boston Marathon that she has run several times. It’s called “Heartbreak Hill.” Well, my Heartbreak Hill is the one that leads to our house. But as Tom and I were walking earlier this week, I stopped suddenly and realized we were halfway up my Heartbreak Hill without me noticing it. When I am not with Tom, that hill seems enormous, exhausting and so hard to climb when I am tired. However, when I was with the man I love, the hill faded away as we walked slowly up, deep in conversation.
It occurred to me that this is what love does. It halves the burdens. It makes the difficulties in life easier to face and the hills less daunting. Real love from a good man brings out the strength inside that you didn’t realize was there. Real love doesn’t deplete what is inside another, it bolsters what already exists, however small.
Love doesn’t take away the hills, but it stays with you on the climb, urging you on–not by badgering or hectoring or demanding, but by quietly being there, by listening and showing you how strong you really are.
As Tom and I approach our 20th anniversary this June and I reflect on what comprises a good marriage, I only have to think of that late afternoon walk up the big hill with my best friend, and how I looked back and realized how very far we had come.