A few years ago, a friend of mine, listening to me bemoan some ache or pain, said one of the truest things I've ever heard: After forty, everybody wakes up broken.
Not completely broken, of course, and not necessarily physically. And as too many of my friends know, some of the brokenness shows up well before forty. But if you are lucky enough to see your fifth decade dawn, you have got some dents and dings. If you're really lucky, they're all on the outside.
Mine, of course, is the gimpy eye. A couple of months after my surgery I started to notice that in pictures, it doesn't as open as wide as the other one. I started to look more closely in the mirror. Sure enough, it doesn't. If both of my eyes looked that way, I might look sultry. As it is, I look a little drunk. Sometimes I try to make the eyes match by squinting the one or opening the other as wide as I can, but then I just look either deeply suspicious or highly alarmed. So I just let it be. The price of this year, and the next, and what I hope are decades to come, is a gimpy eye. I'll take it.
My husband woke up the day before his forty-fourth birthday in the middle of the night and promptly passed out. Turns out he has a great heart with a lousy electrical system. I still think the cardiologist who saw him moonlights as a mechanic at his brother-in-law's garage. He didn't look like a cardiologist. He looked like someone's mechanic brother-in-law who walked into the hospital and borrowed a white coat on a dare. But he correctly diagnosed that my husband needed a pacemaker, which he now has. My husband is going to write a book about the experience someday, presumably in much the same way I am going to clean the house someday.
And so, here we are. Gimpy eye, funky heart. All we need is Toto and a couple of flying monkeys and it's practically the Wizard of Oz around here.
We joke that we're stuck with each other, because who the hell else would want us? But really, we'd want each other anyway, busted or not. And the beautiful thing my friend didn't tell me, or else didn't know: if your luck is really good, you find someone whose broken places fit with yours like two puzzle pieces. Straight edges look nice. But it's the bumps and dents that help you stick together.