Sunday, August 16, 2009

post script

image from

My friend Jody, who I met on the river, wrote this comment on yesterday’s post.  He knows me, he knows the story, so well.

"Ellen, that is not the real story. The real story is of the 33 years of living and working together, of building a studio and business, of raising kids, of good times and bad. It is the story of your being so successful; it almost killed you, of the times when you were so poor you didn’t know how to get the car fixed. It is the story of you and Marc almost losing each other. The tale is of you escaping to the canyons of the Rio Grande to find yourself and guiding Marc to find you there. It is of the saga of Pate de Verre, the cracked glass, the firing schedules, the molding process developed by two minds working together. It is of two people joining in a journey with all its twists and turns, highs and lows.

That is the real love story."

I wrote the following before I read his comment today.  I wrote today’s post because the three previous posts make it sound like a fairy tale and it sure seemed that way in the beginning.  I assure you the years that followed were anything but.

33 years is a long time.  As I said in the beginning, there was a time when I thought we weren’t going to make it, was certain we were not going to make it even with all the ties that bound us.  There was a time when it was absolute misery for both of us and the kids.  For years.  And, working together, we were together 24/7.  I had seriously begun to question the sense of destiny, my core belief about the rightness of us.  One of the reasons I got into river guiding was to have time away, days at a time away during which I was literally unreachable.  I had a friend read the tarot cards for me and every card was so right on and so bad until the very last card which was The Sun, about the best card in the whole deck.  I had Dreams again.

But then, almost like the cavalry to the rescue weirdly enough (Reya, here’s an example of the good thing/bad thing), there came that ‘do or die’ moment and we began to do the hard work to fix it.  It took years.  

Now, of course, I’m glad we are here.  Time has a way of dulling the pain and I think the good outweighs the bad.  We are the same and yet we are different.  I’m looking for good from here on out.  Good is relative of course but I think we are done with the bad years.

So what kept us together during those dark years?  I think about that, wonder about that, when so many people just throw it all away rather than deal with it.  I did it.  (Of course any sane woman would have in my situation.)   I try not to judge but I do think, now, that divorce is too easy.

The kids, of course, bound us together.  Neither of us wanted a broken home, I because I had not come from one and he because he had, but they also put a lot of stress on our relationship.  I see this in retrospect.  Life brought out our own special demons and those demons were not on speaking terms.  (Had nothing to do with you kids.)

Our job bound us together.  We had worked together always and so had divided skills.  I did this, he did that.  Neither of us did all.  That was another stress, both vying to be in control.  I have met no one who has thought they could live with their spouse 24/7 much less work together.  But our work together was also part of the healing process, learning the pate de verre was born out of that.

There was also our constant devotion to each other though at times I think it was more a commitment to the commitment.

And, for me at least, there was that sense of pre-determination.  Destiny.  The rightness of us together.  The conviction that there was a reason for us to be together.  How could I have been so wrong?  When I started doubting that it was like the Universe was laughing at me.  Not a happy feeling.

Well, I’m glad we had all those ties that bind.  One less and we may not have made it to 33.  I think I saved his life.  I also think that he gave me mine.  A fair trade by any standard.

A lot of the intensity is gone now and I don’t miss it.  I don’t know if that is from going through the fire or just from living long enough.  We still get annoyed with each other now and then but here is what I learned.  When you love, you love warts and all.  

I’m looking forward to more.  I hope I am so blessed.


  1. I think you are blessed! You are right that divorce is the easy way.... it is much harder to fight through all the storms together. I think the bond is much stronger because of that. I speak from experience.

  2. hi ellen, your honesty in unpacking such a large piece of your life is compelling. i think you are both blessed to have such an insightful understanding of the processes you have been through and are inside. to know that there is purpose tucked neatly away inside all experiences and that within the purpose is learning. thanks for sharing these. i've learned from you ellen. steven

  3. Some people have the stamina, the will, the fire in the belly that allows them to fight. A good marriage is forged by fire. It is bendable and malleable, but if it comes through the fire, it has become stronger.

    It is tougher for marriages to survive nowdays because we want so much more from a relationship than our parents did.

  4. Crumbs, I'm not sure I could work with my wife - and I suspect she would say the same!

  5. What a piece of yourself you've shared.

    I think you're correct in saying that divorce is too easy. I also know that sometimes it's a necessity. Some things just cannot and should not be endured. Other things are just far too painful to endure.

    I applaud you for fighting the good fight and for the tenacity with which you clung to your commitment to "for better or worse."

    Congratulations, Ellen...and thank you so much for sharing this part of you with us.

  6. I've really enjoyed reading this series, Ellen. So much honesty and a deep sense of gratitude, even for the hard times. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. This postscript is that rarest of things, a sequel even better than the original.

  8. Thanks, that was really inspirational! Well done for fighting the storms and coming out trumps! Oh, and thank you for your honesty :)

  9. 33 years, I can't imagine. I was with one person for fifteen years, but since then, two years is the longest I've been with anyone, though I don't plan it that way. Must be the gypsy in me.

  10. Kathy - yes, when you come through something that is destructive together it does make you glad to see the other person on the other side.

    steven - thank you for all your comments. Sometimes the seeing came after the fact. Learning, yes, some hard lessons. I think I may not have learned them in the past lives so this time the lesson was more intense.

    lakeviewer - I think I'm just plain stubborn. I think marriage is tougher these days because people continue to live separate lives. They spend more time apart (at jobs or sleeping) than they do together. It's too easy to drift, grow apart and become apathetic. And many people just don't stop looking once they find a mate. Infidelity was not one of our problems.

    Mo - You might be surprised though I have to admit it took a long time for us to stop taking critiques personally and, in my case, to give up perfectionism, to accept flaws, in the creation of our art.

    Amy - I absolutely agree that some things should not be endured and for those divorce is the right and only way.

    PurestGreen - Thanks. I wasn't so thankful for the hard times when in the midst and even now I would wish that we had been better but then perhaps we wouldn't be where we are today.

    Mr. London - thank you. I wanted it to be real.

    Chapati - honesty is easy. It's making stuff up that's hard.

    Fireblossom - No one plans it that way. Unfortunately, it takes both partners to want to make it work. I was lucky in that.

  11. The story is great! I love the wayhow you wrote it. I thnk you deserve all the best!

  12. After being married for over 30 years, I read your post shaking my head and saying "yep, she's got it down to a T." Life on the merry go round would be boring and not a growing process. Now ride the roller coaster of true commitment and you have a married life well lived. You are very fortunate to have each other!

  13. I LOVE this series of posts on your marriage. What a testament to a full fledged partnership. Wow. You two have been through it all, up and down. Maybe the idea of a perfectly happy partnership sounds good, but wow, wow ... what stories you have in you. I hope sometime you will write a memoir. You've got a good start with these three (or 4?) posts.

    What did keep you together? No one can ever answer that. There is some kind of mysterious glue that keeps some people going. The glue seems unrelated to the particulars of what goes on between the partners. It's beyond us to understand why but I'm happy for both of you that you made it.

    Smart to take the river guide gig so as to get some space from each other.

    I don't believe you would have cut off your hands without Marc. I believe you would have been an artist no matter what. But how great to have him in your corner, just when you needed it most? And now look at what you create? Your work is exquisite, truly beautiful.

    I salute you both! And thank you so much for telling us the story.

  14. We cherish what we've had to work hard for. It's true with most things in life.. especially love. Thank you for sharing.


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