Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lovell, WY

I’ve now traveled to Lovell, WY twice in the last three months. I know where the grocery store is, where three different churches are, where all three motels in town are located, and how to get to the cemetery from the aforementioned churches.  About a month after we were married Shawn’s grandmother passed away and we took our first trip to northern Wyoming for her funeral.  Shawn and I were already planning a trip to Lovell so I could meet her.  She was 103 years old and had not been able to travel to Salt Lake for our wedding.  Grandma Walker was a major influence on Shawn deciding to become a teacher, so he wanted me to meet her.  Unfortunately we didn’t quite make it in time, and our already scheduled trip was for her funeral instead.  

They asked all of the grandchildren (which now included me as well) to sing a simple hymn during the funeral service and as I stood next to Shawn singing that hymn I realized that I had no clue how to be his wife.  I didn’t know how to help him mourn, or if he needed to mourn.  I realized how different a husband was than roommates, and men are from women.  With my roommates I could be there, offer a hug, offer to listen if they want to talk, give them chocolate, hold their hand while they cried, and all would be appreciated.  I was there physically for Shawn.  I pulled him into my arms when he found out about his grandmother passed away, but no tears came.  I asked about her, but didn’t know how to get him to open up, or if he even wanted/needed to open up.  I didn’t know if I should offer chocolate, he’s far less emotionally dependent on chocolate than I am.  I watched him when he saw his father at the viewing, as he practically crumbled with tears into his fathers arms, and part of me wished that I could have been the one to hold him up when he finally broke down, but at the same time I knew that that was not what he needed from me.  I stood by his side, I held his hand, I told him what I loved learning about her at her funeral, but was it enough?  This is part of the disadvantage of only knowing each other for just under a year when we married, we hadn’t been through everything together yet.  But, I decided, that didn’t matter.  Shawn has never expected me to be a perfect wife, just as I don’t expect him to be a perfect husband.  We’ll learn together how we mourn and how to support one another through the good and the bad.  We’re learning how to celebrate together, how to support each other through stressful times at work, how to know when to back off and when to push, and I love that about marriage.  I love learning as much about myself as I learn about Shawn.

As I type this I am in the car somewhere between Lovell and Salt Lake on our way home from the second funeral in Shawn’s family.  This time it was his Aunt Yvonne who passed away.  She had been sick for a long time and her passing was not unexpected.  We debated about wether or not to come up for the funeral, and I was really hoping Shawn would decide not to come.  But, I also know how important family is to Shawn and that’s one of the major reasons I love him and married him.  And when he decided it was important enough to take a day off of work and travel for 16 hours in a car in the space of 48 hours I knew that I wanted to support him in this.  I know that what I wanted was much less important than what he needed.  

This was a different funeral for Shawn, not as hard or emotional as Grandma Walker’s had been.  This funeral was more about family, mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort.  This was about keeping those ties in Lovell strong.  And even though driving in a car for hours on end is not my favorite way to travel I’ve really enjoyed this trip.  I am more sure of myself as Shawn’s wife.  I learned more about Shawn’s family, I saw the farm where his dad grew up.  I laughed with his Aunt Nancy and Uncle Ned, and learned of the incredible love the Walkers of Wyoming have for my husband.  I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

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