Legends of superheroes were born from the actions of men such as my husband. They don’t necessarily make the news, and they’re not always famous. According to Ted, they live commonplace lives of “quiet desperation”.
But their legacy is left in the hearts of the people who saw them. Saw them stopping by the side of the road to help someone change a tire, or lend them a cell phone. Heading across the street to shovel snow off of the property of an elderly person who lives alone. Saw them noticing in a grocery store parking lot an older woman who has left home without her leg brace and realized far too late that she’s in deep trouble without it. So they help her to her car, follow her home, get her into her apartment, put her groceries away and then give her their phone number so that she can call again should she have need of them. That is the man I married, and that is a superhero.
Most days though, he’s just a superhero of my own personal variety. Tonight I spoke to him of my frustration: every day I get up ready to face my battles, and every day I feel like a failure because somewhere along that day’s road I put something in my mouth I shouldn’t have. It might have been too much peanut butter on my toast, or a big cup of hot chocolate, or simply a second helping at dinner. Every day I fail.
Tonight I was expressing these frustrations to him as I showered. He was of course in the bathroom with me because he tends to wander in there when I’m showering whenever I fail to lock the door. According to him, the prospect of nakedness, water and soap is a little too tempting to pass on.
He wondered why his admiration of me is never enough to keep my self esteem nourished as I nourish his, and I tried to explain to him that for him no one is following around behind breaking down for him everything that I build up. Just as soon as he has me convinced that I’m okay, I sit in a chair that’s too small, or go clothes shopping, or absorb the well intentioned helpful advice of family or friends who “just want me to be healthier”. And it all breaks down again.
My own personal Superhero looked at me and said:
“I wish I could make the world into a paradise for you. But all I can do is make it as good as I can, for us.”
And I realized then that I was simply giving excuses to continue to feel bad about myself. How can I take for granted a single moment of a life in which such a partner, lover and friend is daily at my side? His love is a super power strong enough to vanquish the entire world for me.