30 Days of Gratitude – Day #30, The Better Part of Me


Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for my wonderful wife.

Day #30 – You complete me …

If you have ever read my blog, this is no surprise. Each day of my life begins, is filled with and ends with thoughts of my wife Lisa. There is so much I could say that I don’t even know where to start. So what I figured I would do is just recount several moments and memories – and unlike so much that I read, all of these won’t be positive. Real relationships have bumps, hills and valleys, challenges and troubles as well as all of the great times – pretending they don’t ignores reality. So here goes:

Mike Early Running1

1. I always go back to that moment in the atrium of Brigham & Women’s Hospital where Lisa was working and a mutual friend and I were meeting her. It was sunny and warm and she came happily bouncing down the stairs and … well, I can look back now and know that in that moment I fell in love with her. It wasn’t the first meeting by any stretch as we’d known each other for years … but it was THE moment.

2. On our first Disney trip, we went fairly budget, staying at a Holiday Inn ‘Family Resort’ in Kissimmee, where our room was great with a kid-safe bunk bed setup and kitchenette so we could have some meals there in the hotel especially since the boys were 3 and 4.5. But although there were two chairs outside there wasn’t really a ‘patio’ or deck … so at night after the boys went to sleep Lisa and I would grab a drink from the bar and sit outside. We were close to one of those giant bungee swings – close enough to be able to watch and hear, but far enough away that it wasn’t noisy or intrusive. We had such busy days with the boys, that hour of quiet chatting each evening was absolutely awesome.


3. ‘The Park Street Mixup’ – I wrote about this here, saying “we decided that a great central place to meet would be the Dunkin’ Donuts at Park Street station.The only problem – there are TWO Dunkin’ Donuts at Park street … one on the inside that only people coming from the north can see, and the other on the street where people coming from the south would depart!”


4. In-Law Fight Part #? – Sitting in the parking lot of Jordan Marsh at the Burlington Mall (oh how things have changed) Lisa had told me that I wouldn’t have a close relationship with my sister’s kids. By then my sister had royally screwed us before just our wedding and really that relationship was going nowhere. But I didn’t want to let go of being a good and well-loved uncle – even though I had three nieces and nephews at that point (the two girls from my sister and my brother’s son) and hadn’t been asked to be godfather once. Why am I mentioning a fight? Two reasons – we are pretty much ‘no BS’ with each other … and we have each other’s back, even if it involves going through an argument to get the other person to understand. And … she was right, of course. And unfortunately I have been correct more than a couple of times as well.


5. Playing ‘lawn chess’ on our honeymoon – when I think of moments when we finally put all of the stress and busyness of the wedding behind us, and got over the pressure to ‘join in’ from the Sandals staff … it is this moment. No one was around us, we were just by ourselves, having a great time and not caring about how long we played or much of anything else.

6. This Thanksgiving Lisa worked overnight – from 5:45PM – 3:45AM. I had fallen asleep, really not even trying to stay awake. But when she came in, since I’m a light sleeper I got right up. She said “I’m going to have a glass of wine” Sounds good, is what I said. We grabbed a seat downstairs on the couch, threw the blanket over us and just chatted for two hours before heading to bed at 6AM.


7. Horseback riding in Puerta Vallarta. We had such an awesome, incredible vacation for Lisa’s 30th – we took a cruise down the west coast of Mexico, and had an amazing time. We did every little excursion, with the only regret getting paired up with another couple in Acapulco for a while. While one purpose for the trip was not being home around her birthday, the outcome was great. But as I said, riding together in those hills produced memories for a lifetime.

8. Sitting in the waiting area at Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston, waiting to go in to have the dead baby removed from Lisa. This was our worst miscarriage, the pregnancy we’d finally been enough along to tell everyone, that we felt ‘this time for sure’ … and we were sitting in a room for of people who were waiting for abortions. We both are pro-choice … but the feeling in that moment that we would have done anything in this world to have our little Robert Patrick make it to greet the world, while everyone around us had life growing inside of them that they were choosing to end … I can’t say it didn’t add to the pain. But this was one of those moments that told us that no matter good or bad, we truly were in it all together.


9. Wrapping presents. When the kids were little, we would end up late at night wrapping stuff for the kids, putting things together on Christmas eve and so on. We’d have Christmas music, some egg nog, and we’d be very tired, leading to loads of laughs – including the oft-spoke phrase “I don’t think that will be funny in the morning!” Sometimes it was, other times not.

10. The challenges – one of the toughest times of our marriage we were apart. It was March 2008 and I was in Corning with a thyroid that had pretty much completely stopped functioning but wasn’t yet on meds, and Lisa was back in Massachusetts dealing with our useless realtor (supplied by the relocation company) who seemed to have the ‘demand of the day’, a massive melt flooding the basement, the dogs chewing through the ‘chew-proof’ fencing, and so on. Nothing much I could do for a few weeks, and things were tense … but it was quite a learning experience.

Running History - Summer  20131

11. Just sitting together – on the deck in Townsend, vacations pretty much everywhere, drinking coffee, wine, water or whatever … I can’t count the number of great memories that are wrapped around Lisa and I just sitting together somewhere taking in a view, the beautiful morning sun, or whatever life offered.

12. Our 20th anniversary – the boys made us a multi-course dinner and served us on the patio on china and crystal and we got dressed up. It was romantic, shared with out boys, and just another fabulous memory of the incredible life we’ve made together.

Running History - Fall  20131

13. “You and me against the world” – I can’t begin to count the number of times we’ve said this to each other, and the reality is it is true. We’ve said it in good times and bad, during difficulties with each of our families and financial stress and stuff with the kids, and also during those magical good times we share so very often. It really is the two of us together through all of it.

I am grateful for the flawed life I have had, with all of the joys and challenges … but most of all I am grateful for the partner I have had by my side.

Thanks to everyone for playing along these past 30 days!

And to finish – one last song. The song that was ‘our song’. ‘Skywriting’ by The Bible.

The song tells the story of a young couple trying to succeed against the odds and opinions of others. While I was already employed as an engineer (i.e. not broke), just as we fell in love Lisa moved to Albany for a year of graduate school in medical technology. So we had the long distance thing going – and plenty of people ready to cast doom upon us.

We still listen to this CD all the time, and it remains a special part of our life and our family. Here is a live version circa 1990:

27 thoughts on “30 Days of Gratitude – Day #30, The Better Part of Me

  1. What a great way to end the series! Its clear through your blog that you truly value your marriage and it was nice to hear about some of your memories. I look forward to being able to reflect back on my marriage in a similar way in years to come!

    • Thanks Lisa 🙂 I think it is always amazing how much stuff happens in those little and seeming ‘nothing’ moments that build your life together. There were so many things I could have talked about, I wrote a dozen, then changed it to ‘several’, and ended up with 13. It could have been 100 or 1000 …

      And I hope you and Rob enjoy years of love together, I always love seeing pictures of you together. 🙂

  2. Fantastic Mike – The good, the bad and the Ugly they happen in all marriages that are successful and it is how you deal with all three that make or break many. It is obvious through your writings that you and Lisa love one another a great deal and that you both work hard to keep that love alive. This post is the perfect way to end your series. Thank you.

    • Thanks Harold – yeah, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ is a very fitting analogy … 🙂 Thanks again for all of your support during this series of posts!

  3. So sweet 🙂 Fantastic way to end the month of gratitude! I can see as the years of my marriage move along that the whole “you and me against the world thing” grows stronger, not in an isolating way but just a reality that your marriage bond is tightening and understanding and viewpoints continue to merge. Such an amazing part of marriage!

    • Thanks Michele, and it is so true – as kids we have obligations to our family, and then as young adults those continue … as we couple up and get married it often means trying to juggle two sets of obligations … and eventually we realize that the family that deserves our attention the most – is OURS.

    • Thanks Hollie – not sure when the years disappeared and we became an old married couple … but I’ll take it 🙂 Good luck to you and Tim – you’ve now cooked a turkey, who knows what might be next!

  4. I am crying. Yep I am crying. I have always admired your honesty and love that you two have for each other. You are such a wonderful example of a loving husband and father. Reading about your ups and downs gives me hope and fills me with happiness. As we continue to struggle and deal with losses I appreciate your honesty as well as the hope. You have a very special family and wife. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Thanks so much Sarah … now you’re giving me ‘the feels’ 🙂 Also thanks for noting the ups and downs … I had read a couple of posts I would call ‘unreality’ recently, and it frustrates me because I think they set an unrealistic picture of life for people reading them. I thought it was important to note that Lisa and I truly see each other for who we are and always have … and neither of us is perfect 🙂

  5. I love this 🙂 I think my favorite part is how honest you were with everything. Relationships aren’t perfect, and there are plenty of bumps in the road (especially when you’re doing the long distance thing and have major life events happening at the same time….end of October and parts of November were rough ha), but at the end of the day, it is you two against the world (I LOVE that you say that…Joe and I have a secret saying [ok really I’m the one who came up with it, but he humors me and repeats it haha] that includes that one 🙂 ), and you have done an amazing job in keeping things together after all these years! Thank you for sharing, and I wish you both many many many more years together 🙂

    • Thanks so much Caitlyn! ‘You and Me Against the World’ is actually a Helen Reddy song from the mid 70s that was popular on AM radio and Lisa had on a K-Tel collection album. OMG that all sounds SO old! haha

      Glad you and Joe have weathered through everything and are getting ready to move onto the next stage of life, and I wish YOU guys many years together!

  6. I don’t even know what you say, so happy for both of you, so happy you’ve both got the commitment and love that it takes to get through it all. I love reading these kind of posts!

  7. I have loved every day of your “30 days” –each morning, I’ve yelled at my laptop for taking so long to wake up. I couldn’t wait to see what new thoughts and gratitudes you’d share with all of us. I have enjoyed each post! and particularly the one today.
    Thank you so much!

    • Thanks Judith – we suffered through several miscarriages, including requiring D&E procedures … but for us the first time needed to go in for that procedure, the first time having told everyone we were expecting to then telling them just weeks later that the baby was dead – you’re right, it never really goes away, even with two big teens in the house now! 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story. You’ve clearly been through some very difficult times but have pulled through because of your commitment to each other. It’s truly inspiring.

  9. Pingback: 30 Days of Gratitude Revisited | Running Around the Bend

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