Monday, August 13, 2012

Love and Marriage...

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Yesterday, I became an adult. This realization didn't come to me because I looked in a mirror and saw crow's feet (thank you microdermabrasion) or because I shook an angry fist at the neighbor's kid ( I've been doing that for years...those little bastards better stay off my lawn). It was a conversation I had with Joe over Sunday brunch.

With the chaos of the restaurant swirling all around us, we were quietly holding hands across the table when I looked down at our wedding bands. As I sat and stared at them I was overcome by emotion. I reflected on our wedding day in Virginia 7 years ago. We went down to Williamsburg for a family vacation and quickly realized this was where we wanted to marry. See, we didn't want a big wedding and whenever I sat down to plan something, I would become overwhelmed by the whole process. I had been down that road before and didn't need the big dress and fanfare. I knew it wasn't the ceremony that makes the marriage; it's finding the right person that matters and I was pretty certain I got it right this time. So on that warm spring day there stood Sean, Joe and I under a gazebo on the sprawling lawn of Colonial Williamsburg with a pastor the hotel had recommended. He was straight out of a Margaret Mitchell novel; an older gentleman with white hair and a linen suit to match. He had that slow southern charm that's just incomparable to anything you might encounter up north. He began the ceremony with a prayer:

Now you will feel no rain
for each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness for you.
When I heard those words spoken on our wedding day, I didn't fully comprehend their meaning at the time. But, I do now and, clearly, so does Joe. How can I convey to him how much he means to me? How do I thank him for being so true to the vows we took that day, for making me feel so damn special and for always being my shelter from the storm? Still holding his hand, I simply looked at him and said, "I love you with everything I have to give." Not with the desperation of a child, but the devotion of a wife. He was quiet for a bit then responded, "All I need...all I want, is for you to get better." We sat in silence for a while, allowing the gravity of our exchange to settle in.

I've been with Joe for over 12 years but I don't think I really knew him before this year. Truth is, I don't think I knew myself either. This experience has stripped away all facades. We may still keep our game faces on for others but, when we're alone, they're too much work. What we're left with is the  vulnerable side that we share only with each other. We can scream at the horror of what has happened, laugh at the absurdity at times and cry at the sadness of it. And I love that, just like I love our inside jokes, our sideways glances and our shared love of Mob movies and the amazing quotes they contain (... get to live the rest of my life like a schnook) 

So this is marriage? Now I understand. It means something. It's not just a piece of paper and a party. It's standing in the kitchen when the party is over and cleaning up the mess together. 

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