I've just celebrated 25 years of marriage with my love. Twenty-five years is a long time I suppose, but it's really been so full of forward motion that I've hardly noticed the time passing. As I look back over my shoulder to try to analyze what has passed, I realize that I can't see without my glasses on anymore. There are wrinkles and stretch marks where there weren't before, and the 21 year old body that fit in my wedding dress is a distant memory. (You think it won't happen to you, but tomorrow afternoon it will.) He's still here though. He's beside me holding my hand and laughing with me in the middle of the night and we're still worried that we'll wake the baby in the house who is now twenty. How did that happen? I cannot fathom the speedy passage of time.
As I strain to see those first months and years, they are a tad blurry. They rest in a fog of memory. I'm sure they were a heady time, a mix of chemistry and giggles. They must have been right? That's how we all expect that they would be. Honestly, I can't remember though.
I do remember a man who drove two and a half hours to work on the 405 freeway in the summer in a laughable little Datsun pickup with no air conditioning, because there were bills to be paid. I remember nights crying over religious conversion that tore his world asunder from the clear cut path he had been taught to follow. I remember the late night laughing when we were too tired to sleep and silliness seemed overwhelmingly funny. I remember his baffled patience when I was worried about attractive women around him and wasn't yet ready to understand that seeing the obvious is different from loving the secret hidden things. (You'll get there; understanding will come.) I remember a man who drove five hours round trip to pick up what I needed to nurse a sweet newborn girl who would ask adult questions about life choices one day. I remember last week waking before he did and staring into the now-lined face of a 49 year old man, (who, just days earlier, had been a skinny boy who had held open doors for me,) and pondering the profound intimacy that I had never understood I would have.
There must have been heady excitement and chemistry. There must have been? Now there is just an intense mysterious bond that reaches deeper than I knew there were places to experience. Now there is the same hand in mine. It's an old hand now, world worn and rough. It's pounded countless nails into drywall and taken out the trash a thousand times and then again. It's held mine in the delivery room and in quiet moments while I drift to sleep. It has stroked newborn skin and the hair of a young adult daughter with love. I know his hand will be there in mine as long as there is life in it, no matter what comes.
That is what I would wish for you. Loyalty and unconditional companionship. Patience in error, and service in the face of fatigue. Love that transcends fleeting youth and the dissipation of initial chemical attraction. A father for your children who will place them above his own needs and wants. A man who will go shopping for dresses with you if you want him to. A man who will hold you at night when your waist is thicker and the wrinkles come. A man who will hold your hand and never let it go.
Pax Christi dear ones,