I tossed the lid into the jumbled cupboard. The potpourri of hand-me-downs, the garage sale finds and most recent brand new set of wonderful pots and pans – all mixed together, sat precariously balancing upon each other in metal towers. I carefully shut the oak cupboard door to hold the contents within.
“I think I’ll clean this cupboard out this weekend.” I declared to my husband who sat half listening to me and 3/4 listening to the news. He actually responded with more than just a grunt, and turned to me and said, “Oh, like get all our pots and pans organized?”
“Yes, and set aside some for Alex to take when he moves out (next year)“
“Mm.” Mike went back to the news.
“You know,” I interrupted once more, “Do you ever think about how far we’ve come? I mean, look at us. We’ve raised three kids and the last one is almost to leave home. We spent eighteen years struggling to stay together and raise the kids and now look at us. We’re finally good friends and have a good relationship and the whole time it was happening, I felt like it was taking forever and now it all just seems like a blink.” Tears poured out of my eyes at an uncontrollable rate and I laughed and said, “Well, so much for this eyeliner. This will never work.” The black gathered on the napkin I’d grabbed from the Longaberger basket atop the bar and desperately dabbed at my lids.
Mike looked up from his plate of perfectly cooked eggs that he’d made for himself and smiled at me. “Yep.” He agreed.
I stopped and stared directly into his eyes and held his gaze there, as I watched his heart soften. And I think that he really did, in that moment, realize what I meant and how far we’d come and just how much it meant to me. And I think he and I really felt the immense power of it all.
There’s something about going to hell and back with someone that makes a sort of bond, some connection that will never be broken. And Mike and I, our life together, has been like that stack of pots and pans in the cupboard. We stacked them from hell till they reached heaven.
When you open that cupboard, you will see there’s stuff we were handed, stuff we acquired through our lives and stuff we consciously set out to own. There were times we opened the cupboard and the pans all fell out with a loud clatter that shattered our nerves, and we had to sort through the mess choosing what to put in the front, which to shove to the back and sometimes what to throw out altogether.
Life is like that, I guess. Looking back, I think the key is to know that life really is like a cupboard full of pots and pans. And just as you can clean out a cupboard, you can clean out your life. Nothing is forever and even if life seems to fall down at times with a loud clatter, you can pick it all up again and while you are doing so, you have the choice to put it all back just the same, or make it more stable by arranging it the way that you want it; the way it works better than it did before. I have to admit, there were times I wanted to clear out the cupboard, throw it all out and never replace it. But having reached this point of our life together, I’m glad for every one, even the one’s with the scorched bottoms.
With that, I think I’ll clean out my pots and pans, as I said I was going to do. I’m going to save out a few rarely used ones for our youngest son, Alex, to take when he goes to college next year, so he can start filling his cupboard with the pots and pans of life. It would only seem fitting that he take some with him. They may not be the best he will have, but they will be the base of the tower, and hopefully, the ones that remind him that no matter how many times they fall, he has the strength and the tools to pick them up, put them back and the choice to do it better.