There’s a certain hope expressed in one of the prayer books: “Let peace and friendship be your shelter from life’s storms.” When I read it, I see the inscription of my marriage—nine years young this day.
Audrey and I are as likely to have met as two falling stars from different galaxies. But when the fates organized a plan, we found each other over ten years ago at the closing trajectories of two drooping marriages and began a friendship, a kindred spirit, a mutually supportive discourse of relief and insight that restored a sense of hope and promise and even structure to days of frenzy, confusion, and not a little anguish.
As likely to have met as two falling stars from different galaxies.
We actually talked endlessly about what divorce will do to children, about what disappointment in love can do to the human spirit and to the body itself, and how mighty a matter is one’s guilt about leaving a partner who is the other parent of your children.
There was nothing frivolous in these conversations and they were distinguished and unforgettable. We didn’t even know that they would become the inviolate foundation of a love so embedded in our blood that it survives both of our high-powered personalities, our family neuroses, the initial ambivalence and intermittent resentments of our shared four children, and, above all, the complete career makeovers that came with our decision to formalize the love into marriage.
Audrey, frankly a brilliant woman with multi-task capacities, resumed a professional career in finance while faithfully raising two still-young children into healthy adolescence and embracing my now-adult daughters as themselves. All this, while putting up with my sputtering transition from a full-time pulpit rabbi of many years to a fully-realized journalist and author, interfaith activist, and MLK lecturer.
After a couple of years of not “getting it” about how lucky I was (I do now), being stuck in my “transition,” while languishing in the magnificent study Audrey had built for me, and at first bemoaning her many business travels because I was lonely (and she was trying to raise her kids), we have come to a place that honors those initial life-conferences of years ago, when our hearts were beating with fear, uncertainty, and a flung sense of trust.
I have learned so much about the real world from her—a world where bills do need to be paid, seeds planted in the yard, carpets cleaned, tasks shared, rational decisions made and not co-opted by doldrums or drama. She has taken in the nuances of pastoral tension, the measure of a lingering moment of extra words and spontaneous mischief together, and we have found immeasurable wisdom to blend in each other’s work and experience. I have taught her how to walk, and she has taught me how to run.
Ben Kamin’s next book, ‘DANGEROUS FRIENDSHIP: Stanley Levison, Martin Luther King Jr., and The Kennedy Brothers,’ will be published in April by Michigan State University Press.