Our 21st Wedding Anniversary was suddenly upon us. We made no plans to celebrate the fact that if our marriage were a person, he was now legal to drink alcohol in all 50 United States.
The big day fell on a Thursday. We needed to leave the office an hour earlier than normal to pick the kids up from school rather than let them ride the bus home. Ash’s violin tutor was coming at 4 pm, a half hour earlier than the kids would get home if they rode the bus. Then B had a 5 pm meeting back at the church and band practice until 10 pm. It would not be a romantic, carefree day spent toasting our love and reciting poetry to each other. We spent the day at work, where once again, I was up against deadlines and moving as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Have you eaten lunch?” B asked me as we passed each other in the hall.
“No,” I stated. “I should.”
“Would you like me to get you something?” He asked.
I paused. “I think there are some bagels in the kitchen.”
There had been a meeting that morningbetween a visiting Rev. Dr. Fancypants and one of the grand poohbah church committees to talk about denominational issues. They were treated to a beautiful continental breakfast in the Parlor. The leftovers were taken to the office kitchen and an email sent to all staff that there was food. By the time B and I walked in there at 1 pm, all that remained was three quarters of a whole-wheat bagel, a little fruit, a spoonful sweetened yogurt fruit dip, and four cookies. I smothered the bagel with the yogurt and ate a piece of pineapple. B poured himself a cup of coffee and had two cookies as we leaned against the counter, across from the water cooler, and spoke in whispers about work until the bagel was gone, about 5 minutes.
“I should get back to work,” I said turning to leave. I smiled, “Thanks for lunch.”
“Only the best for my baby. Happy Anniversary.”
For years, I packed lunches to send with Brently to work. When he came home at night, I would ask him if he ate lunch. The answer was generally, “No.” No, because he forgot, or no, because he was too busy. I would laugh and often say, “How can you forget to eat?”
I started working at the church office a month ago, and the first time it happened, I simply brushed it off as a busy day and trying to make the most of my hours in the office. But then next day, as we were leaving the office, B asked me if I had lunch. I suddenly felt the weight of all those years of niggling B about eating his lunch. “No,” I said, embarrassed. “I meant to. I got a phone call. I had a deadline.”
He laughed, “That’s how it all starts.”
The next day it happened again, and again the next, and the next. And just like that, it
seems more common than uncommon. So today, Mr.-I-can’t-stop-working-to-eat-lunch Brently Groshong came into my office with food—not a huge lunch, not gourmet meals, but rather a protein shake and a Lara Bar—and sets the sustenance on my desk. He said, “It’s ironic, isn’t it?”