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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

The bride wore white and walked down the aisle of the church on her father’s arm. The groom stood at the alter with a look so pure I could hardly take my eyes off him.

The vows were traditional and simple. I love personal vows but there’s also something so beautifully touching about hearing the old-fashioned words uttered in such a place.

To love, honour and cherish.

From this day forward.

As long as we both shall live.

The bride and I have been friends for years, after having worked together over a decade ago. We now live in different cities and see each other rarely but she thought enough of our friendship to invite me to this day.

And I thought enough of our friendship to know that I wouldn’t miss it.

I have been to my share of weddings and while some people dread them, the pomp, the expense, the time, I honestly love them. I love to see the ways that two people choose to show their love to each other and in this world where hate all too often gets all the attention. I love to see a celebration of all that is good and simple and hopeful.

Others may remember the dress or the food or the music, but I always remember the moments. The ones that made me laugh, or cry, or ache with love for the two people whose day we are celebrating.

From this past weekend I will remember how her mom stopped to compose herself before being escorted down the aisle to take her place, tears glistening in her eyes.

I will remember how my friend took deep breaths and clutched her bouquet tightly as she turned the corner, down the aisle toward her groom.

I will remember how the photographer almost knocked over a flower arrangement while the couple exchanged rings.

I will remember the feeling of the groom’s heartfelt, eloquent, laughter- and tear-filled speech long after I forget the actual words he spoke.

I will remember the dance shared by the bride and her father, as he mouthed along to the words of the song and she smiled and hugged him close.

I hold on to these moments, file them away to be pulled out on the grey days when nothing makes sense. Because on that day, in those moments, all that mattered were those two people, and the honour I felt in being asked to share in their love.

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I sit with a million questions racing around in my head.  Most of them involve “did you” and “can you” or “how about if” and “when are you?”  They are all about logistics and decisions to be made, plans to be finalized.  The day to day of the every day.

We sit on the couch in silence, watching tv.  The kids are asleep – or at least quiet enough that we can pretend they are.  Now is our time.

I used to think we should talk more.  I used to think that married people spent hours talking about their hopes and dreams and plans for the future.  Then I became a married person, married to another person, and I realized that’s not how it was going to be.  Maybe that’s how it is in other people’s marriages but not in this one.

I used to feel bad about that.  I used to believe that our marriage had to live up to the expectations I had of other people’s marriages.  I’m not sure why I ever thought that, but I did.  There were many arguments that focused less on things that were actually wrong and more on what I perceived to be wrong.

We sit on the couch in peaceful silence, laughing periodically at the same parts in our favourite tv show.  I look over, at the face I have looked at thousands of times, the face that I have loved for almost half of my life, and I bite my lip.

There are things in my head that I thought needed to be said but they really don’t.  There will be time enough later to discuss all of the things that need to be done, and who is going to do them, and when, and who is going to watch the kids while the other person is doing all of the things that need to be done.  That can all be discussed another time. Not now.

We’re busy.

We’re busy sitting.

I used to try to fill the silences, so sure that they were supposed to be filled.  So sure that love existed not in the silences, but in the words.

Along with so many other things, he has taught me that I was wrong about that.

Yes, there are times to talk, and ask the questions, and plan for the future, and dream and wish together and yes, we do all of those things.  But not all of the time, and that’s okay.

Now when I sit on the couch with him I enjoy the silence.  And I look over at him and I realize love exists in the fact that we sit here together on the couch, in silence.  He could choose to be somewhere else, in another room, in another house, with another person.  But he doesn’t.  He chooses to be here, on this couch, in this house, with me.

And I choose the same thing.

We don’t have to be here but we are; because we want to be.

So we sit on the couch together.  And when he looks over at me I will smile and I won’t say anything.  I will save the questions for another time.

Right now I have the only answer I really need.

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Yesterday was my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

40 years.

I really don’t know what to do with that; it’s really too much to wrap my head around.

They got married, had two kids and then decided to move across the country with a newborn and a toddler. My dad got a new job and they packed up and moved away from all of their family and the only life they had ever known to start a new life just the four of us.

For better or worse.

They arrived in their new home and my dad had to start work right away so my mom was alone with us in an empty house. The moving truck that held all of our belongings was sitting at the side of the highway, somewhere east of the Rocky Mountains, abandoned by a driver who had apparently had a nervous breakdown.

I’m sure my mom was in the process of having a breakdown of her own. Imagine living with two kids with no toys, no tv, no pots and pans, no beds. I have no idea how their marriage survived it.

Years later when they tell the story they laugh, glancing at each other across the room, their eyes dancing at the memory.

40 years.

When I had just entered high school my dad had routine eye surgery that turned out to be anything but routine.

In sickness and in health.

It turned into a series of surgeries, each one scarier than the one before it, spanning over five years and resulting in him losing sight completely in one eye.  Then, six weeks before my wedding, a phone call from my dad from the golf course informed us that it was all starting again, only now with the other eye. I worried, selfishly, that he wouldn’t be able to walk me down the aisle while my mom grappled with the possibility of her husband going blind.

Thankfully the next surgery went well and they began to envision their future in a different way. They started to plan trips, focusing on enjoying their time together.

Then, less than two years later my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and their roles shifted. Now it was my dad’s turn to take care of him, as she had done for him the years before.

In good times and in bad.

They have since welcomed four grandchildren, moved three times, buried one of their parents and wrestled with the issues of caring for two other aging parents from 3,000 miles away.

And to this day they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They have friendly competitions over who gets the most answers on the daily crossword puzzle. They finish each other’s sentences and laugh at each other’s jokes. They bicker over how to load the dishwasher. They are a team.  They fell in love all those years ago and created a family and a life together.

40 years.

My own hubby and I are a couple of weeks away from celebrating our 11th anniversary and I can’t even imagine where we’ll be 29 years from now. I can just hope that we’ll weather the storms and be as happy as my parents are.

40 years.

Wow.

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