When I think of the happiest years of our lives, I remember the period of time when we were in our 30s. Life truly was good, and we seemed to sail in a ship with safe winds at our backs, no insurmountable troubles, our sight set on a golden future.
We were both healthy (me, at last!); I spent most of my 30s engaged in creative writing, and completed over 15 novels (later published). My husband was moving up the law enforcement career ladder, and as a Lieutenant often gave advice to officers in our formal living room, where he had privacy with them.
We sold our house in the rural countryside, moved into the small town where I grew up. We lived only 12 blocks from the Sheriff's Department, which meant DH could be there almost instantly when there were emergencies. And there often were, because as Lt. he was always on-call (just like a doctor, but without the exorbitant money doctors earn).
In our mid-30s, we paid off the house and our vehicles; to his dying day, we never had any debt. Though we lived below our means, and never had the McMansions or expensive lifestyles seen the past decade, we were very proud of paying cash for whatever we wanted. We saved first, then did renovations to our house; we saved, then bought our vehicles for whatever we wanted/needed.
Near the end of my 30s, I went to work at the local newspaper as a reporter. I tried that for some time, but decided at heart I was not a danger junkie, and truly didn't have a passion for front page reporting. So I became the copy editor, and while DH was often at work, I was too. We still managed to spend at least two days a week together and our favorite pastime was long drives through the countryside and talking about anything and everything on our minds. It was our "private time together," and became a habit that continued right up till the last weekend of his life.
During that time, DH also began to explore his love for horses. He bought one, stabled at a fellow officer's farm, and would occasionally go on horseback rides with his buddies. I can't say I was much of a rider, but I did love the horses. And how could I criticize him when I began rescuing cats (I'd always had one or two) and he understood.
We soon realized that we loved animals, and his dream was to one day have a small horse farm where he could have several horses. It was a distant, almost unattainable dream at the time, but we started saving for that day...a retirement we could love and enjoy sharing together, with critters aplenty.
In the meantime, we spent most of our vacation time working on the older home we owned then. We liked doing that, and he'd often kid when he went back to work in buff condition, "I've been to the spa of my wife," when asked how he lost weight and got in such good shape.
Our county became our back doorstep; there were few people anywhere that DH didn't know, or visit on his patrols. He never forgot a name, nor where the folks lived. When we'd ride through the countryside, he'd tell me stories about the people who lived in houses we passed; I learned, and began to incorporate those tales in my own creative writing.
One night he came in and said he wanted to show me something. He pulled out a long box, opened it to a red velvet lining in which lay an antique pistol. He said, "There's this elderly man and woman I've been checking in on for years, just talk and make sure they were doing okay. Her husband died last week, and she called the sheriff's department, wanted me to stop by. I was surprised when she said she and her husband wanted me to have this old pistol."
He went on to tell me all about their lives, what kind of antique pistol it was, how they came by it, and how honored he was the lady insisted he have it.
And now for a confession, something I have mixed feelings about. I began to develop a fascination for the dark side of law enforcement, a curiosity about the criminal element. I started to write inmates, although always faraway, not locally. I wondered what made these individuals how they were, why they were so different to my husband.
While often upset with this fascination, my husband allowed it; and that was not easy. However, I often discussed what I learned via correspondence from these inmates/criminals, and we compared notes on those he'd met. Soon this became fodder for my fiction, which I delved into again when I left the newspaper. While he was somewhat concerned about the correspondence, nevertheless, he never truly forced me to stop. Today, this is one of my most precious memories -- but it all came full circle in the last year of his life, which will be detailed in my last entry.
As we entered our 40s, we were still saving and I began investing in the stock market -- which was going gangbusters then, and eventually allowed us to buy a farm in the future.
The bad times: fairly predictable.
Countless meals left cold on the table when it was impossible for him to get home, or rush off mid-meal to an emergency.
Fear as a constant companion when major problems arose, such as him being in the midst of tornadoes, severe storms, helping people. Or him being at the scene when a fellow officer was shot, and a relative called me to ask if it was him who got injured. Nights sleeping alone when he'd be called out to a horrible car wreck, an officer injured, families in distress.
Through it all, we realized we could always count on each other, no matter what. Isn't that what a good marriage is about? Sharing the good and bad, arguing, shouting, then making up in bed? Compromise.
It's taken a long time, but I realize now that he was my ONLY soul mate on this earth.
Our life together was full of drama (his job mostly), passion and anything but boring. He gave his all to the community and myself, and in return the community loved him. Just how much, I didn't know until he died.