For the past nearly six weeks, I have not woken up to this smiling face very often. Jonathan has been traveling quite a bit (gone all week, home for a day or two, gone again, etc.), and I’m so relieved and thankful to have him home for awhile. As a corporate auditor, he gets to go to some pretty cool places, for sure – but the downside is that I don’t get to tag along. And so I guess it makes sense that I’ve come to appreciate him a) even more than I did before this long stretch of his almost constant weekday absence and b) certainly more than I did before I found out I was expecting our first baby.
For a lot of people who might stop by and read this blog occasionally – and even for some friends and family of mine – Jonathan remains a bit of a mystery. Not that he doesn’t go out of his way to talk to people and get to know them, but it’s just unrealistic to expect everyone to know you. So here is a little bit about “that guy Becky ended up marrying.”
Jonathan walked into my senior year advanced romanticism English class (and my life) in the fall of 2005. I’d just gotten out of a not-quite-relationship-but-not-quite-friendship situation that had exhausted me mentally and emotionally, and I’d basically decided that men just weren’t for me and I’d just adopt dogs and cats instead. Seemed like a much easier prospect than continuing to be disappointed. But somehow things not only fell into place, they plummeted into position in warp speed, and two weeks after a very casual Sunday lunch date, we were in this thing for life. As in, the M word was already on the table and the L-word had already been dropped – and without an ounce of fear or restraint, on either of our parts. It just happened…and I think in a way that is scary to some people but really beautiful at the same time. There is no place for fear in love.
But I still had a number of other fears to deal with, things rooted in all aspects of my life, from my spiritual and religious questions to my intense self-scrutiny when it came to my looks and my body. Those first few years of our marriage (years 1 and 2, to be most specific) were an incredibly huge struggle, and Jonathan exhibited an equally incredible amount of patience and steadfast love and encouragement in getting me through all of that. Perhaps the truth is that, when I married Jonathan, I still had the crazy illusion that I could fix all my problems by ignoring them – or worse, by continuing the insane process of continually doing the same things and expecting different results (or expecting to feel differently about myself, I suppose). To be 100% honest, perfectly blunt and unabashed: Jonathan Wilhoit helped rescue me from a period of depression, a feeling of disconnection, an overexercising problem, and a damn-near full-on eating disorder.
There, I said it. And this isn’t to downplay the work that I myself put into getting through things…but without Jonathan’s support – the support that taught me that love is an effort you make every day and an unwavering commitment – I would still be doing the same stupid crap and wondering what was next in my life.
About two years ago, things started getting better, and Jonathan and I finally got a chance to enjoy being newlyweds. We went to concerts, we traveled, we fished for bream on the lake, and we took up hiking. And then we went to more concerts, and did a few more hikes. And I started making food that wasn’t “diet food,” which was nice – since, ya know, Jonathan had no clue that I make awesome meatloaf and a wicked baked ziti and stuff like that. I hadn’t even shown him all the things I could do, and the last two years have been such a huge period of growth for us as a couple that it made total sense that God decided to send little Russ our way exactly when he did.
To be honest, I wasn’t ready for this until recently.
To tell you what kind of guy I married, there are a million anecdotes I could share, but I’ll just give you one that happened just hours ago in downtown Greenville. After church, we decided to hit Liberty Taproom downtown, since they serve a She Crab Soup that has been a constant craving of mine since about 12 or 13 weeks (I get it with 3 or 4 slices of lemon and just coat the crap out of it in lemon juice…in other words, a big ol’ bowl of AMAZING).
When we walked out after our meal, just as we approached our car, a very skinny, frail man approached us. He was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants on a 75-degree day and using a cane, so we kind of gathered that he might not be fully “well.” Upon closer view, we saw disturbing signs all over his face – a whitish-yellow crust forming around his eyes, and some sort of chronic skin condition that had taken over the entire right side of his face. His cheeks were puffy and his abdomen was swollen – both signs of someone who is not getting enough food and proper nutrition. He asked us if we had a moment to speak with him (which we did), and he rolled up his pants to show us his leg – a shockingly thin, skin-over-bone leg that led upward to an extremely swollen knee with a large surgical scar on it. He said he’d been hit by a car several weeks ago, and that he didn’t have any money and just wanted some food. The fact that he asked us for a meal and didn’t give a nondescript request for money really took us both off guard, we later decided. As the tiny man pleaded with us, Jonathan explained to him that he didn’t have any cash on him – but that he’d be glad to buy him a meal.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of my husband.
I continued on to get the car while Jonathan walked with the man back up to the restaurant and ordered him some food and a lemonade to take with him. And you know, it doesn’t really matter what the guy’s circumstances were, how much or how little truth there may have been to his story – we could tell there was some need there, and it didn’t pain us one bit to feed this guy lunch or dinner for today.
But that’s the man I married – that guy that pulled me through a horrible time in my life, that guy that will give you the shirt of his back and even let you borrow his favorite fishing pole. He’s the guy that I saw him being today, and I just can’t think of any other man being the father of my little boy.
There have been times in the past that I questioned what kind of mother I would be, if I could do it, if I’d screw my kids up or make them better people. But I never, ever, ever had to wonder that about Jonathan Wilhoit.
And that’s my baby’s daddy.