A Letter to my Best Friend

My dear best friend,

Nearly twelve months have passed since that day when we gathered our friends and family, pledged to each other and the Lord that we would spend our lives committed to each other, and asked all gathered to support us in that venture. Then we ate bundts and tacs.

I’ve told you many times this year that you looked beautiful that day, and I’ve told you every day this year that you are beautiful in every moment. There isn’t a moment in which I don’t look at you and see Venus in all her glory, Minerva in all her wisdom.

But our first married year is not marked by your omnipresent beauty. It has been marked by sadness, grief, anxiety, fear, and pain. Our professional lives have, without the ultimate dislocation of unemployment, been tumultuous. Together we have experienced the cruelty of professional ambiguity, a questioning of calling. We have asked if we are where God truly wants us to be. We has triumphed in successes when we have found them, and we have been humbled by our failures when they have found us. But we have followed Grandpa’s advice and remained faithful and we trust God to be faithful.

And then there was the day in late January when I walked into the apartment after talking with your mother. I had to tell you, my wife of five months, that your hero, your patriarch, your grandfather, had liver cancer. You were sitting on the living room floor, in your pajamas. I didn’t know how to say it, so I just said it, and I held you while you sobbed.

We spent the next three months visiting your family in Holland at every opportunity. It was in this time that I learned of anticipatory grief. It’s such a different, difficult term: that waiting to begin that more colloquial grief in the wake of death.

It was also during this time that my grandmother died, and we had a precursor to your grandfather. You stood in witness to my family’s grief; together we watched my mom and her siblings parse through Grammy Doris’ belongings. We heard their stories of joy, sorry, struggle; of their conflicts with their mom and their deep longing for their long deceased father.

After witnessing that grief, we reentered that anticipatory grief with your family. One thing that we brought back with us from Minnesota was the desire for stories, not that we lacked it before. But I think with new courage we sought and heard more stories from your grandparents. I am so grateful that we spent so much time with your family in those short few months. I never want you to doubt that I love your family, especially because it is your love for them that I have long found attractive.

And now we are in the early stages of another season of grief, as my grandpa now is the one with terminal cancer. This time it was you holding me and I was the one sobbing. The anticipatory grief is acutely mine, but transitively yours. But this grief season will be different. We are not a three-hour drive away. My family is geographically decentralized. My family is not one for phone calls. Emotional vulnerability, while not anathema, is not our strong suite, not that it is for anyone. But we are open and direct communicators, and we do not fail to communicate our love.

Our grandparents are similar and that is most evident in their devoted marriages and their children, our parents and aunts and uncles. Our families are FAMILIES. They pour into each other; they have instilled in us a pride in our families. I have learned from my father and grandfather how to be a good husband and a good father, but I have also learned from your father and grandfather lessons in the same.

But, as much as grief and loss have tinged our first year of marriage, as much as we have grown and our marriage has been fired and forged by the same, it is not to say that our lives have been without joy and hope.

Under your aesthetic direction, and my pragmatic direction, we’ve made a beautiful first home. The floating shelves in our living room are among our great triumphs. You’ve bestowed great care upon our plant-child, Frederick. You keep the blinds open so that light pours into our apartment, highlighting the other plants you’ve brought in to populate our home. Our walls are monuments to our God, our marriage, our families, our friends, and our books. We have tried to make our home one of welcome.

And now, as much as we love our first home, we are purchasing our first house. Our new home will be ours to customize. It has room to grow a family; it has room to house guests. It is a space in which we can comfortably exercise generous hospitality. But it will also have the nooks and crannies for us to nest, nuzzle, and cuddle in.

We went to Play It Again Sports to buy me a bicycle, and we resurrected yours from your old roommates’ basement. We’ve biked to the farmers’ market, and the library, and the coffee shop. I love our bike dates. I love all our dates, and they mostly consist of our favorites foods: Thai, Indian, Sushi, and most of all, Tacos. Remember when we watched game 6 of the World Series at Revolution, cheering with the whole city of Chicago? I love the fact that your parents spent their first months of marriage watching the Tigers win the World Series, that my parents spent their first months of marriage watching the Twins win the World Series, and now we’ve spent our first months watching the Cubs win. I love our Beer-and-Scrabble dates, whether at Bigbys, or Penrose, or our own living room. And I love being your bartender and making you Gin and Tonics. And someday soon I hope to make you virgin G&Ts.

We’ve spent the last year watching our friends have and raise adorable children. As much as we like being honorary Aunt Jillian and Uncle Jake, I know that we’re both excited to one day be mom and dad to our own little Garbanzo Bean Schlossberg. There are a number of names we like, and I know that we’re hamstrung by my desire for Jewish, family names like my parents used, but even within that constraint our favorite names fall. But first, we’ve decided to name our first born son after our grandfathers. Both of our identities, our families – and OUR family – is shaped by these men, and we want to commemorate and honor them.

Another of our great victories this year, and one of the reasons I admire and love you, has been your faithful service to O— & M—- and their children. You are passionate about Jesus’ love for the least of these, the refugee. But you don’t just embody that love intellectually or politically; you engage relationally. You believe that Jesus is bringing the refugee here and that the Church is called to embrace them; that he called you to embrace them. They have become our friends, part of our community.

Jillian Paige, the first year of our marriage has been a refining fire, forging us together. We signed a contract together that we would not allow our work to ruin our marriage. We have walked through grief together; we have seen God’s faithfulness. In this first year our young marriage has cured and molded. In its completion, it is ready to be built upon. I am so thankful to be building my life with you. I am thankful for the life we have already shared together, and for all of the forthcoming years to be shared. I am thankful for all of the family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and strangers that have been part of our first year of marriage. Our family and friends have poured into us, supported us, comforted us, counselled us, prayed with us and for us. We were not the only ones who took vows on our wedding day; our community also vowed to be faithful. They have been, and I am thankful for that as well.

Love,

Your Jake

8/12/17

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One Comment to “A Letter to my Best Friend”

  1. I loved this!

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