When my husband and I were dating, I visited his family and he took me kayaking. We carried two of his family's kayaks down a grassy hill below their home and spent hours kayaking around a beautiful lake in the Northwest. It was absolutely magical for me, adding even more to my intense love and admiration for my husband.
Since that magical experience, I yearned for the day when we owned our own kayaks so that we could paddle around together. I mentioned to my husband once or twice in Costco, while strolling past their kayaks on display, that someday he could buy me a kayak for our anniversary if he really wanted to impress me. I thought it would be years before I would actually own one.
Last year for Valentine's Day, my husband bought me a river/lake kayak. We lived in the desert, so he found it on craigslist at a super price. I couldn't believe it. It was literally a dream come true (except at the time we had no bodies of water to put it in...) Before moving to the Northwest, my husband found a great deal on another river/lake kayak on craigslist.
Yesterday, my husband and his brother took both kayaks down a river. From the road, while scoping the river, he said it looked calm and serene. However, they found themselves capsized in a rough current , both almost swept under, and then hopelessly trying to pull the kayaks out from under an accumulation of logs in the river. The kayaks were trapped. And still are.
When he was telling me after he returned, I was cooking dinner. I didn't believe him until the story got better and better. Then I started to tear up, but kept focusing on dinner, rather than my husband's eyes. Then, I thought, maybe he thinks tomorrow is April Fool's Day rather than February 1st. I finished cooking, still unable to look at him, and slowly walked out to the garage, fully expecting to see the kayaks hanging from the rafters, or both still stuffed inside his car. No kayaks. I sat down on the stairs and started crying.
I realized this was unnecessary. (Crying, in my husband's book, is the worst thing I can do and makes him feel awful.) I was truly grateful that my husband and his brother were safe. I realized that the kayaks were material objects, ones that could be replaced, unlike someone's life or well-being. But, I still needed to grieve. The kayaks were a symbol of my husband's love for me.
It was like losing my wedding ring, all over again. Similarly, the ring was only a ring, an object, but it was also a symbol of love, dedication, sacrifice, and unity. And sometimes, symbols are powerful things in our lives. But, luckily, they are just objects, and therefore dispensable, unlike the people we love. Maybe I just need to keep learning that lesson, over and over again.