It has only been a minute since I was nineteen. It has only been an hour since he was twenty. A blink of the eye, the flash of a camera, the turn of a page, and here we are. From the front steps of a small town western Nebraska courthouse, coughing away our winter colds as family threw rice at us – to now, chatting on our cell phones, reminding one another of groceries, errands, paint swatches and car repairs.
Twenty-five years. A lifetime ago, I married him and he and I promised in front of a small group of family and friends to love, honor and cherish one another. People who shared the day with us have moved on – gotten married, gotten divorced, had children, become grandparents….passed away. My dad. His grandparents.
I’ve had my married name now far longer than I went by my maiden name. The heavy gold heirloom wedding ring he placed on my finger has left a deep, smooth and distinct mark on my finger.
When we were young and new and freshly in love, everything was electricity and light and fizz and important. There was significance in every glance and gesture, urgency in every embrace. Every moment we spent apart we thought about each other. Grand declarations of love unfurled like banners in every letter, and the smallest disappointments were bitter as dust.
It’s only now in middle age that I realize how unrelentingly invigorating and immensely exhausting young love is. How in the world would we survive if we were expected to maintain that level of passion all the time?
Yet there are those who believe that “in love” is superior to loving. It’s like comparing roller coasters to cars. It’s not meant to be an everyday thing. It is an excitement, an exhilaration. It is a spark and an arcing flame designed to weld us together, but everything that burns must cool off. That doesn’t mean it is over. That just means the building is finished and it’s time to live in it.
Love in marriage is not a cool thing to talk about because when it’s right, it’s so damn boring to other people. The ones who make it look easy are not the ones that get all the press, because when it’s successful it’s just white noise and comfort, like your parents’ furniture or that familiar stretch of road by your hometown.
But listen. Listen closely. This? This everyday life of picking out paint colors and remembering to call the doctor and scheduling an orthodontist appointment for the kid and whose turn it is to load the dishwasher? This is the journey as well as the destination.
It is the public and private and everyday face we present to our family and the rest of the world: my husband and me in our house making dinner and working and opening the mail and doing laundry and then, in the quiet hours, sitting in a huddle on the sofa with a little girl, watching movies or reading The Hobbit or laughing because someone accidentally said “lactose intolligent” instead of “intolerant.”
We stood in a courtroom twenty five years ago today with our family and friends, promising to share our lives and love, little knowing what was ahead of us. Poverty and sickness, heartbreak and struggle. Infertility and then foster parenting and then loss and hope and adoption. Fourteen vehicles, seven apartments, one house, two dogs, five cats, and more than two dozen jobs. Security and books, music and laughter, countless friends and celebrations and holidays and joy.
And the love – my God, the love. Clinging together when the world falls apart, laughing together when things are easy, trying to understand when we are angry, watching the miraculous blossoming of our beautiful daughter. Hand in hand, my head on his chest, every molecule of him as familiar to me as my own skin and bones; times when I am truly unable to tell where he leaves off and I begin.
As much as I try, there just are not words enough to describe how very blessed and amazed I am when I look back over this huge span of years at the history and the life we have built together. It really does feel at times as though it were only yesterday, although it also feels like I’ve known him forever. This extraordinary man who married this really great woman and built an incredible life, and yet we manage to make it look to the rest of the world so plain and unremarkable. It’s an illusion to hide the magical reality of hard work, compromise and sheer dumb luck.
Happy 25th Anniversary to my best friend, my love, my heart. Thank you for making this life so wonderful.