Six years ago, right about now, we had made our entrance to the reception, had our first dance (to "At Last," the Etta. J.ames tune), danced with our respective parents and the toasts were probably at least begun. My dad began his with great joke about the fact that about 20% of the people in the room were lawyers (including him and my father in law) and that he was checking pockets before they left. It was a wonderful day (despite the rainy stormy weather, just like yesterday was here in the mid-west) with very few glitches, which I like to gloss over in my head. Everything was gorgeous, the room, the flowers, the simple (but huge) dress I wore, the look in C's eyes as he held my hands under the chuppah, lovingly made by JK. Really, the only thing that would have made it better was if my mother had been there. Well, that and one other thing.
We had this amazing Rabbi (Rabbi Marcia, as we called her) who was very liberal, very feminist, with whom we created the ceremony, combining both our traditions with minimal use of God. In Hebrew, many prayers are chanted or sung, and Rabbi Marcia brought down the house, using her talent and practice from her days singing in gospel choirs. People still talk about our ceremony. We included parts from the Song of Solomon ("I am my beloved's..."), a bit from O, Brother Where Art Thou ("You seek a great treasure...") and a poem written and read by a dear friend on the occasion of his own wedding anniversary ("Brattl.e Street"). (It's a gorgeous poem, perfect for the day -- I'm so grateful he allowed its inclusion in our wedding).
We included the traditional vows "will you take this woman..." and wanted to share our own thoughts or vows as well. This turned out to be way harder than I thought it would be. With all the busy-ness involved in planning and throwing a wedding, somehow, this kept getting put off and put off. Every time I tried to think about it, I'd get lost in thought and wind up crying. "I just... I just love you so much... You always make me feel beautiful..." Crap like that. No, sir, not gonna do it for wedding vows.
So the day approached, and the day came, and I still had nothing written. It was just too hard to put down in words -- too big, too simple -- to articulate why I loved C and what it meant to be marrying him. All that came to me was a bursting heart and lots of tears. How's that for schlock?
Rabbi Marcia sat with me as I was getting my hair and make up done, and we talked a little bit about C and me, and she said she would put something together. She did say a few words, but it never seemed enough, never seemed right.
Every year for our anniversary, I've told myself that real vows would make a great gift, but I've never seemed to be able to pull it together. Here goes:
From the first letter, you've made me laugh. Our conversations, our "discussions," our fights make me think, and feel, and use parts of my brain that are too easy to neglect. We work for it, but I always feel closer to you after we work it out. Even when I'm pissed off, it reminds me why I love you, why I even love fighting with you. To get to the laughing with you. The speed of your brain, and your wit continues to amaze me.
Those first few weeks, you were so unsure. So careful, gentle with me. We were both getting back on the horse, and it was scary. After that first kiss on the platform at the Hyne.s Convention Center T station, I thought, Oh, yeah, okay, I could definitely go for more of this. That first dinner and a movie, (Next Stop W.onderla.nd) something in the way you held my hand made me feel I could be safe with you. I knew I would be safe with you. And I am.
You are careful with your heart. You don't just toss it out there for anyone to take. And yet you gave it to me. You are slow to open up, slow to reach out to others, to feel safe with others. But I see how you enjoy being "social," and how, when someone touches you, when someone has earned your trust, you are a true and loving friend. Still, you are careful, but I can see when your heart is in it.
We've had a lot of ups and downs, both in our relationship and in our lives. But, as you remind me, we always "figure something out." Losing the boys has been our greatest challenge. And yet, despite the pain you are feeling, you take care of me, you are thinking of me. At the worst of our trauma, your thoughts were of me and of the boys. How to take care of them.
You gave your heart to your sons, before you could see them, before you could hold them. You hoped and planned for them. The way you dove in to your love for them, thinking the coast was (just about) clear; the life you pictured with them...it makes me love you even more.
And despite my anger and my fears and my ugly bitterness that sometimes shows up as "pointiness", hurtful jabs in my worst moments, you still tell me that I'm beautiful. You tell me I'm doing okay. You tell me you love me and you can wait through this hard part, and that you'll be holding my hand. That we'll get through this together.
You are everything I have ever wanted in a husband, a partner. Smart, sensitive, loving, patient, and yet you're still a "guy." We have our own lives, but we come together to share them, to move forward together. I love what we share: the talking and the "not talking", the laughter and getting through, growing through the pain.
It's not always an easy road, but I'm so glad to be sharing it with you.