November 3–4, 1969
The week began as they all did with Nate and I exchanging wedding work for school work. He was doing well in law school, and my 25 first graders were a constant delight. Ride-sharing with Linda and Judy was also going well and had become more than just a practical way to get to school and back. We were fast becoming friends.
Linda and I often lunched together, but Judy’s students were older and had a different schedule. It was a small school, though, and we ran into each other throughout the day. Linda’s 2nd grade was across the hall from my room, and if I wanted to communicate with her, I’d send one of my students over with a note. We often got silly in those notes, but it was a happy way to stay in touch.
The three of us had much in common. Both Linda and Judy were ahead of me in marriage – at least by a few months. Because of their experience, I asked lots of questions and was especially interested to learn how Nate and I could avoid any misunderstandings or arguments, once we were married.
A pastor-friend had told us there would be surprises, some of them unpleasant. In trying to explain that, he’d said, “Picture two rivers coming together to join as one. At the place where they meet, the water churns, unable to flow in the same direction. Sometimes it gets so intense there’s white-water rapids. But downstream the water has calmed, and the river flows smoothly. The first year of marriage is sort of like that.”
As I lay in bed at night, I thought about what he’d said and everything else I’d been learning about marriage. I wondered if Nate and I would experience that kind of churning as we tried to move in the same direction. Maybe we’d even encounter some white water rapids – a troublesome thought.
And then something happened that surprised us both.
We had finished dinner, and I was sweeping up under the table when my arm bumped into it. A drinking glass tottered, and though I tried to catch it, it went to the floor – and broke into many pieces. It had no sentimental value and wasn’t one of my favorites, but at the sound of the breaking glass, I burst into tears.
Nate came running from the next room and didn’t know what to do – grab my broom or grab me. He wrapped his arms around both and said, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. We can buy another one.”
But his comment had missed the mark. My tears had nothing to do with broken glass and everything to do with an emotional upheaval. “I don’t care about the stupid glass,” I wailed.
Nate sat in a chair, pulling me onto his lap. “Then…. what is it?”
I jumped up with the broom and continued to cry, sweeping glass shards every which way. “I don’t know! I don’t know!”
Nate was desperate to comfort me but didn’t know how. “Has someone hurt you? Or did something happen at school today? Have you heard some bad news?”
“No!” I said, continuing to swing the broom.
He took the broom away from me and sat me down on the chair. “OK then. Just stop for a minute. Tell me what’s wrong. I want to help.”
I put my face in my hands and sobbed so hard I couldn’t talk.
(….to be continued)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart.” (Psalm 139:23)