It is a lovely picture of marriage.
Two becoming one. Your lives entwined. Your decisions blending together. Partnership. Trust. Giving and giving. Submitting to each other (because nothing in marriage should be a one way street). Co-authoring your stories and walking every path together.
My life is a series of chapters, pages, paragraphs, sentence fragments, and footnotes. I am able to look back and see the clear separation of seasons written on soft leaves of time.
I've had a lot of guest writers in my life's book.
It started with my parents. They wrote many of my early chapters with stories that were told again and again. Those pages are fuzzy, I might not actually remember all of them, but they are mine just as surely as if I had held that pen myself.
In my adolescence, friends made appearances. Their tiny, tight letters, and loopy scrolls interspersing with my own, unique writing. There are moments in those chapters when I wasn't sure what the true thread of the story was, or how exactly I fit into it. Some of my guest writers helped me to find that thread, some helped to bury it deep in the woods when I wasn't watching closely. It was easy to get lost in my fledgling story, uncertain that it really was my own.
Guest writers are tricky things. They can make off with whole chapters of your life if you aren't careful. If you come across a couple of bad ones, you could lose so much more than the worth of the words they leave behind them. Some of them will try to take over completely, and have to be forcibly removed from the writing desk before they alter everything in your story down to the very cover of the book.
This is the danger of opening up your story to collaboration.
But sometimes, a guest writer becomes more. You invite him to bring his own chair to the writing desk, and you push the pens a little to the left so you can both reach them easily. This is when a guest writer becomes a co-author.
True beauty is finding a co-author who wants you to shine on every page.
A co-author who doesn't hold you back or push you down so he can be the hero of every story. A co-author whose stories fit just right with yours, and bring your book one section closer to completion, even as yours do the same for his. A co-author who isn't just happy to hand you the pen, but will take dictation when necessary. A co-author who isn't afraid when your writing intersects his, is willing to talk about every comma (especially the ones of the Oxford variety), and knows exactly how to spell both awkward and awesome when the letters don't want to play nicely. A co-author who writes on the days you can't, and fills in the margins with well-placed illustrations on the days you can. A co-author who loves you enough to entrust his story to you the way you have entrusted yours to him. A co-author who might even get the chance to write the early chapters of someone else's book with you.
Thomas is this kind of co-author. As I look down at the pages I'm currently creating, I feel a new chapter coming. A chapter I can take in almost any direction; it's exciting to think about it. But no matter where I go, I know I will not go there alone. I'll carry the pens and Thomas will carry the paper, and as we cross the river between the chapters, Katarina's pocket will hold her own notebook that finally has more of her words in it than ours.
This is how my life's book is being written. Each page is distinctly true to the time in which it was penned. I salvaged almost all of the lost chapters, and sewed them into the binding. Even the dark ones contain precious pieces of my heart. If you lean in close enough, you can smell the colors reflected back at you. The ink splotches and cross-outs are beautiful. I'm learning not to edit as I write, but to let the story stand on its own. I'm okay with the lack of perfection and the footnotes that serve as reminders meant just for me. And I'm thankful for a co-author who doesn't try to change these things to better fit into his own story.
There is room for two books at our writing desk. They fit perfectly together on the shelf. Entwined. Two books, yet one. Co-authored. The same, yet distinctly our own.
This is the mystery of books and marriage and life. It is beautiful.