Wednesday, July 8, 2015

4 years (Happy Anniversary, Justin)

Four years ago, my dad walked me out to a gazebo as Justin stood nervously waiting for me. 

The minister proclaimed that it was our "intention to share with each other your joys and sorrows and all that the years will bring."  Clearly, we had no idea at the time what those sorrows would be and what those years would bring.

My cousins read First Corintheans: "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  Clearly, we never imagined that my mom would be reading the same verse at our daughter's funeral.  Clearly, we never imagined how our love for our daughter would persevere even after her death.  

We said our vows, our for betters or for worses, with no idea of the worse we'd be experiencing together.  

And the minister ended with: "Strengthen us all in the days and years ahead, when the way is hard.  Grant Heather and Justin the courage to keep talking and the faith to keep listening when it is hard to do, and the mature love that grows slowly throughout the years."

And that's where we are.  The way is hard.  But we're still talking and we're still listening, sometimes more successfully that other times.  We're in mature love. 

I've said this before and I'll say it again.  I cannot imagine dealing with the pain of my daughter's death without this man by my side.  It is certainly not the life we imagined for ourselves four years ago.  It is not a life we would have chosen.  But still, I'd choose this man all over again, knowing then what I know now. 

One night, laying on the couch together, Justin pointed to our mantle.

Without any intention whatsoever, our mantle decor spelled out our journey together, from left to right: HOME blocks (and yes, we purchased our home together long before our wedding), our wedding invitation and a favorite wedding photo, Benjamin's birth announcement, and Lydia's "You are my Sunshine" print and urn.  And now, to the right of Lydie's urn?  The chalkboard marking Bowie's growth.

The night before we got married, at our rehearsal dinner in my parents' backyard, I told our family and friends that Justin has always made me feel lucky.  Lucky to have found him, lucky to get to share a home and a life with him, lucky to be loved by him.

These days, it's hard to feel lucky.  But sometimes I look at Justin and Benjamin, and I feel that way all over again.

Happy fourth anniversary, Justin.  Here's to many, many more.  

And I will share one more reading from our wedding, just because I love it, and four years later, I find it truer than ever :

A GIFT FROM THE SEA by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
One recognizes the truth of Saint Exupery's line: “Love does not consist in gazing at each other. But in looking outward together in the same direction.” For in fact, man and woman are not only looking outward in the same direction, they are working outward. Here one forms ties, roots, a firm base....Here one makes oneself part of the community of men, of human society. Here the bonds of marriage are formed. For marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language too, a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental. It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction. It is woven in space and in time of the substance of life itself.


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