Recently, my husband and I were able to spend two months together, alone, on the coast of South Carolina. We can thank Hurricane Matthew for that, since he was deployed there as an insurance adjuster to help with the storm’s aftermath. It was a blessing, like a honeymoon, if working 15-hour days counts as that. Looking back, I realized this was the first time we had been without kids for more than a few nights since 1989 when our first child was born. That’s a long time.
The first couple days were a bit rough for me. I’m such a mom, if you know what I mean, and being away from my family tugged at my emotions, even though we only have our 21-year-old son left at home, with one daughter married and the other living in Ohio. Things got better after my heart found its footing, and we fell into a rhythm of work and companionship. My husband’s schedule was intense, but we were together, and that’s what mattered. Most days found us comfortably sharing the work space in our Oceanside home, occasionally interjecting laughter and conversation.
The best part was in the evening, as the sun started its descent behind the palm trees, and we strolled to the water’s edge, arm in arm. There we watched as the sky turned from blue to shades of pink, purple, and then dusky twilight. And if we missed the sunset, there was always the moon to watch as it glinted across the endless pounding surf.
I realized then, if we could enjoy life and each other as empty nesters, then our marriage was strong.
It had stood the test of raising children from babies and toddlers, to teenagers, and young adults. It had survived financial hardship and the loss of our dream home. It had survived the uprooting from our small community in Ohio to be transplanted to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where everything was new and uncertain and it seemed all we had was our small family. It survived job changes and career re-directs, the death of parents, and the heartbreak of loss.
Now, 28 years later, I look back and thank God for the strong commitment we both had in making our marriage last a lifetime. Because there were days when we didn’t particularly like each other, and times when we disagreed, but in the end we held on to love and the solid resolve that we were not in this alone. And for that, I thank God.
Naomi Gingerich is a freelance writer and food blogger (www.farmtotablefeasts.blogspot.com) from Winston-Salem, NC. Born in Ohio, to parents whose lives revolved around farming, ministry, and daily gatherings around the table, Naomi carries these same values into her own family as she infuses the culture of modern living with traditions of her Mennonite heritage. A frequent host of farm-to-table dinner parties, mom of three grown children, and a contributor to Winston-Salem Monthly, Naomi spends her free time hiking and enjoying the outdoors with her husband, Fred, and their Golden Retriever, Miles Davis.
You can follow her on Instagram @thecooksinthekitchen.