While he showers and makes ready, I watch red move like water over the sky. Nascent light leaks through the edge of the horizon and just like that, the night is shed. I remember how my mother would wake before the light—make the coffee, pack my father’s lunch, and move like a ghost through our home. I was a shadow—how I could creep—and I found her, quiet, sitting at the kitchen table after his departure. Did she feel this sort of empty then?
My parents, long separated and remarried, did they feel this burning in their hearts for each other once? As I watch the liquid sky, I think how love can move this way too—silently seeping out the cracks of our horizons, shedding dark, shedding light … only those with open eyes to bear witness.
I promise myself I will keep my eyes open. I will gather up these liquid moments in the cup of my heart and carry them into all the days. When the days hum back to normal and parting seems no longer an emergency … I will bear witness to love.
On the way to school this morning, our youngest says to me, Tell me about your wedding day. The world shifts and I grow lighter and my heart leaps inside of me. Because thinking of you and the way our love was planted still does that to me.
Twenty years ago today, I tell him. The sky was as blue as your eyes. But it was windy. Somewhere there is a picture of Dad holding the skirt of my wedding dress out as it flapped in the wind like a sheet on the clothesline, just waiting for it to settle down so we could take pictures…
And I tell him about that day when we stood before our family and friends and God and made a promise to love each other forever. And when I return back home I get out our wedding album.
Oh, love, how could we have known on this day twenty years ago all God had planned for us?
We got married outside, at the farm, I told Jeffrey. Because Dad and I weren’t going to church at the time. I was still confused about my past. And Dad…Dad did not believe the God-story then.
As I look at our shining faces—twenty years younger—I think about that.
Dad did not believe the God-story then.
But he does now, Jeffrey had responded.
Yes, I said. In June it will be seven years.
Seven out of twenty years. Thirteen years of prayer.
What I didn’t tell Jeffrey was how we almost gave up. How you told me you didn’t think you could be the man I wanted you to be. How, because the differences in the way we believed, you thought maybe it was best to divorce.
Remember that, love?
And isn’t the way love endures nothing short of a miracle? A miracle that takes hard work. And not giving up. And a whole lotta faith.
I look at our shining faces—twenty years younger—and I see how our love story is really the story of God’s love. The way a marriage shapes a person is the way His hands mold—making us more beautiful with the lovely patina of time; conforming us to His image. And I could say a lot about the bride of Christ and the way marriage emulates His love for us and how a man should love his wife the way Christ loves the church…
I could say all those true and beautiful things about our love. After twenty years and in the looking back I can see how this story tells the Bigger Story. But I sit here in humble gratitude as I consider the way the pages have unfolded and I feel too tiny to set down words like that.
You have been God’s gift to me. He has etched his Love into ours.
Later, I will go to the jewelers and pick up my wedding band. I finally had it resized this week. Those few extra pounds and the stretching of this body from carrying our babies made that round gold circle squeeze a little too tight on my finger. Kind of the way it does around my heart. And to me it seems—this adding on to the golden promise you gave me—a sign of the way love grows too. It can be costly, but in the end—it results in more gold.
I wanted to write you a poem, but you said you would come home from work early so we could be together and I have a million things to do while I wait. Besides, Wendell Berry says it best. He wrote this poem to his wife on his sixtieth birthday. Pretend it says twenty? It captures my love.
To Tanya on My Sixtieth Birthday
I bring you aged a young man’s love.
Happy anniversary, love. I would marry you a thousand times more.