The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves…
– Thomas Merton
You and he settle into a booth at one of your favorite restaurants. Not fancy—a college basketball game plays on a flat screen mounted on the wall. Closed captions, no sound.
“I’ll have the usual,” you say to the waitress. He orders something he hasn’t tried before. Being perfectly yourselves.
During the soup and salad course, you say to him, “I have things weighing on my mind and would like your discernment.”
You speak about other loved ones’ life decisions, fears, and unfulfilled expectations. He listens then comments and tells his own stories. In the past, you’d get impatient when the conversation seemed to veer away from what you wanted to hear. Now you realize part of love is the will to listen to him being perfectly himself and counting that as a blessing.
When the entrees arrive, you and he eat in companionable silence. Then he talks about what he’s reading and writing. You comment and add your own stories.
The waitress clears the plates; he pays the check; and you drive to the theater. At Will Call, you pick up two tickets for The Merry Wives of Windsor. He waits for your restroom stop then guides you to reserved seats where you’ve never sat before: Lords’ chairs stage right, house left behind the gallant stools as in this photograph taken of loved ones after another show.
You bounce along to the pre-show music. Then the fun begins: a fast and funny farce. A young woman and her three suitors, an enormously fat and feckless Sir John Falstaff, the two eponymous merry wives, and a husband who suffers from unfounded jealousy. The characters being perfectly themselves.
At intermission, he gets up to go to the restroom, and you ask, “Would you get me a hot chocolate?”
Maybe it’s not what he wanted to do, but a few minutes later, he hands you a hot paper cup, saying, “Is this what you wanted?”
“Ah yes,” you say then sip the sweetness. He wraps his arm around your shoulders and gives you a hug that lingers. You lean into his warm embrace.
Later at home, you and he settle in bed. “Thank you for a wonderful day,” he says, reaching for you like he does every night.
You say, “And thank you,” like you say every night. Then you think about the evening: the food, the music, The Merry Wives of Windsor, what you and he said and did.
Letting each other be perfectly yourselves.