My husband, Lonny, liked to offer surprises.
Only I didn’t do well receiving them.
“Close your eyes,” he said one afternoon. Then he led me, warm hand folded around mine, to our bedroom. “Surprise!” he called. I was shocked to see that Lonny had bought me a new bed quilt and had donated the old one. Only I wasn’t ready to change the bedroom to a winter lodge theme.
Another time, a few years ago, he very sweetly farmed the children out for the weekend. “Surprise!” he’d called when I returned from the library to a too-quiet house. “We have reservations at a bed and breakfast.” Only he didn’t understand that I’d fret the whole weekend about my two-year-old’s wild, raspberry-red rash.
My husband’s way of showing love brought me stress. My response brought him frustration.
“I’m trying,” he’d say, when his latest surprise had caused my heart to thump too hard.
“Me, too,” I’d say, after the smoke of the latest surprise had cleared.
We traveled on that way for awhile, Lonny surprising and me sputtering in stress while shooting him down. Until one day, after trial and error, in God’s good grace, we hit it right.
“Surprise,” he said that day when he came home from work. He plunked his bag on the floor, tugged the zipper, and extracted a cold cylinder.
In a can.
“Thanks,” I said. “How thoughtful and kind. You remembered my favorite. It means so much that you thought of me.”
Lonny gave me a peck on the cheek.
And when he pulled away, I don’t know who was smiling bigger.