I know, I know. I've used this photo before. But I've been doing some serious thinking about marriage and Life. I've been doing some serious thinking about how two young kids can come together on a blind date and, in the time span of 5 months and 4 days of dating, decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together. A young woman who was 20 at the time, a young man barely 21. A young man who'd had hair halfway down his back and was doing some serious drugs when they first met. A young woman who'd spent the past 7 years delving deeply into the occult and satanism. A couple who, when they broke the news to the young man's parents they were getting married, left the young man's father standing in the driveway as he watched them roar away on a motorcycle, shaking his head and saying, "I give them 6 months."
34 years and 2 months later -- SURPRISE!! We're still here, still together and it looks like we're going to make it to the end. We've had a rough few years here with my health going south for a while and we've had some serious talks about what the marriage vows really mean. "In sickness and in health, till Death do us part"...those are some heavy words. In the throes of young love and lust and infatuation I don't think most of us, when we say them, really know what we're committing to. If we're serious, that is. If the vows mean something to us. Most of us are pretty young when we say them. We're fresh and bright and Life is still the Great Unknown out there. We're invincible. We can face anything. Some of us have waited until marriage before we live together. We think everything about our beloved is wonderful. That sex will always be world-shattering. That children are something we really want to have. That mortgages and bills and job losses and in-laws happen to other people. That we'll want to spend every minute together forever.
Life happens. It has a way of interrupting even the best-laid plans. Job losses do happen. Mortgage and bill payments have a way of showing up every month and need to be paid. Children are born, and the years spent raising them are tough. There are more plusses than minuses, for sure, but the sleepless nites early on with an infant who is colicky and gassy and just plain miserable eventually progress to lying awake at 4 am, praying a rebellious teen comes home and isn't dead on some rain-soaked, dark street. Unexpected illnesses happen. Parents die. Your own mortality begins to stare you in the face and you realize your life has zipped past you at a truly remarkable pace.
But you share history. You progress from a tiny apartment with a few sticks of furniture and eating dinner on TV trays to a home with so much stuff packed away in the basement it'd take a semi trailer to haul it all away. Your two golden-haired toddlers are now adults. Next month your youngest will be 30. 30!!! You become grandparents and, if you're truly blessed, you get to take an active part in their lives. You go from being a couple of carefree newlyweds to being a couple of free spirits in your middle years. You go from hanging on every word spoken by your beloved to sharing contented hours of quiet time together. You have a hard time sleeping if you have the bed to yourself. You have almost a 'psychic' connection, putting on the coffee because you know your beloved will be home soon and he pulls up to the curb just as it finishes brewing. You still call each other "Babe", which was the endearment you started out with...but it's progressed to "Flo" and "Joe". "Mother". "Dear Heart".
And when you come out of the bedroom at 4 am with your silvery hair sticking out in every direction, you find him sitting at the table in the dining room sipping coffee. And he asks you, "How is my bride this morning?"
That, to me, is love.