Tuesday, July 6, 2010

25 years: Our silver lining


Twenty-five years ago today (eek!), on a blazing hot July afternoon, in a chapel on the university campus where we had met almost four years earlier, in front of about 120 friends & relatives (mostly mine) -- after three & a half years as a couple, and much of that time spent in a long-distance relationship -- pre-Internet, relying on snail mail, weekly long distance telephone calls (expensive at the time) & occasional visits by plane & train -- I married my best friend, my soulmate, my sweetheart. : )

When you are a starry-eyed 24-year-old bride, & promise you are going to love this man standing beside you "for better or for worse," you really have no idea what those words mean. (You feel like you've already endured "the worst" just surviving a long-distance relationship until the day you could finally be together.) You have a vague idea that there will be difficult days, of course, but you are supremely confident that together, you will conquer any obstacle that life throws in your path.

Thirteen years & a month later, cradling the small bundle of blankets that cocooned our much-longed-for stillborn daughter, we knew the awful meaning of "for worse."

We had been through job uncertainty. We had lost beloved relatives, including dh's 50-year-old uncle & grandparents on both sides of our family. We had been so broke (particularly that first year) that we had to ask dh's dad for money to pay the rent, & rolled the quarters we'd been saving to use for laundry to help buy groceries. We had had arguments (mostly money & clutter-related -- spender vs saver, pack rat vs minimalist)(guess who is which?) & struggled with the demons of anxiety.

None of this had prepared us to deal with infertility & stillbirth. The next few years were a nightmare, as we struggled -- and failed -- to create the family we had always dreamed about, before our bodies, finances and nerves gave out on us. We knew that not every couple survives this rollercoaster ride.

We were lucky. It has not been easy -- but we have held on to each other. For 25 years. (Longer, if you count the time before we were married.) As that immortal philosopher Jon Bon Jovi sings (lol), "We've got each other, and that's a lot." If there is one thing that has helped us as we made the transition to childless/free living, I think it's the certainty both of us felt, right from the beginning, that we could still have a good life together, just the two of us -- because we already did. And I think it's important to know that in your bones, to truly believe that, if you are considering a childless/free life, for whatever reason.

Children would have been wonderful, of course -- the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae. There's not a single day that goes by that I don't think about Katie, about the family I dreamed of having, about the way things could have been, should have been. Not necessarily a better life, but a good life, for sure -- a different life, a family life like the one we'd both had growing up. It does make me sad, still. I think we would have been good parents.

But it just didn't work out that way. And even before we started ttc, I believed that parents needed to provide a strong foundation for that family by focusing on their marriage & on each other. I've seen too many couples become so wrapped up in their children and their children's lives that they lose sight of who their partner is & why they got together in the first place. And sometimes, by the time the kids are grown & gone and they realize what's happened, they can't find their way back to each other.

Awhile back, I posted a vent about how I felt our anniversary was being lost in the shuffle -- particularly since my parents' 50th anniversary party is in less than three weeks. (To be fair, I imagine they were thinking the same thing about my wedding interfering with THEIR 25th, lol.) We've already celebrated a wedding & our nephew's high school graduation within the past six weeks or so, and I'm going through a lot of changes at work right now. Besides Mom & Dad's party, there's a big family reunion coming up. Our summer schedule is already crammed, & our work colleagues beat us to the punch in booking vacation time, making it impossible, sadly, to take any time off around this day.

So far (at the time I'm writing this, a day before this is scheduled to auto-publish), nobody has said a word indicating they recall the significance of this date -- although I expect I will get calls &/or e-mails from my parents & sister, and possibly SIL, who is usually pretty good about remembering these things.

But it's still our anniversary. Our 25th, our silver anniversary. And that's worth celebrating.

And we are, in our own way. A couple of weekends ago, dh & I went shopping and bought the diamond anniversary ring I'd been eyeing for years. We also ordered new flatware & looked at some new stoneware to replace the stuff we got as wedding gifts 25 years ago. We're still using it, but the flatware is stained & tarnished, and the dishes are scratched & chipped -- a little worn around the edges (just like us, lol).

We thought about going somewhere this past weekend, but knew it would have to be an over Saturday night thing. And, being a long weekend of sorts in both Canada (Canada Day, July 1st) & the U.S. (4th of July), we knew it would probably be busy & hard to book something in any of our favourite local haunts (Niagara on the Lake, Stratford...).

Instead, we decided to let the dust bunnies have free rein of the house for another week, abandoned the usual Saturday housecleaning, and went into the city for the day. We went to the Royal Ontario Museum to see their special exhibit on the Terracotta Warriors from China, visited the mummies & dinosaurs while we were there, & then strolled down Bloor Street (the Rodeo Drive of Canada) to a bookstore for an hour's browse. Headed back to the 'burbs & finished the evening with a steak dinner at our favourite local restaurant.

Tonight after work, we will be having dinner downtown at an Italian restaurant in an atmospheric heritage building, attending "Rock of Ages" (an '80s musical! -- how appropriate, lol!!) and then spending the night at one of the city's grand old hotels. Later this summer or early in the fall, we hope to get away for a week or two, just the two of us -- possibly to Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island (maybe both). (Suggestions/recommendations for places to visit, stay, eat, etc., are welcomed.)

After we lost Katie, the Classic Pooh motif that was to have been her nursery theme became a huge source of comfort to me & dh. Ten years ago, in a little gift shop at the Forks in Winnipeg, we found (& immediately scooped up) a stained glass window ornament that now hangs on the big mirror in our bedroom. It's Pooh & Piglet, looking at each other, holding hands & skipping off together (down the road less travelled?). The caption, which has become a motto of sorts for us, reads: "It didn't matter where they went, as long as they went together."

I'm still not entirely sure where we'll wind up -- but I know that, as long as we go there together, we will be fine. : )

24th anniversary (July 6, 2009)

23rd anniversary (July 6, 2008)

63 comments:

  1. What an amazing, amazing milestone. Congratulations and I hope that it's a wonderful day. I really loved this post--it made me very teary.

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  2. Beautiful to read. Thanks for sharing your insights and your family.

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  3. Congratulations on 25 beautiful years together and may you have many more!

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  4. Beautiful post! You're right, it is what's important! Happy Anniversary

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  5. Happy anniversary, dear Loribeth! That really is something very special. I like the Jon Bon Jovi quote, too. : ) Congratulations!

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  6. Happy Anniversary. I love hearing that through it all you have come through with your relationship not merely intact, but thriving. Inspiring, to say the least.

    xoxo

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  7. This post made me cry. Happy anniversary, sweetie. I hope your day was filled with as much love as it was 25 years ago.

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  8. Happy Anniversary! Here's to many, many more together :)

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  9. "the flatware is stained & tarnished, and the dishes are scratched & chipped -- a little worn around the edges (just like us)." That's a beautiful image. It reminds me of an Alice Walker short story - 'Everyday Use.' Or it might be 'Everyday Things.' (I can't remember.)

    ROM (and Bloor) - what a great date. I saw a TV ad for the warriors and I wish I could go!

    I know which store at The Forks you mean - that stopped me for a second. Remembering Katie with you. xxx

    Congratulations on your 25th anniversary. That is an accomplishment.

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  10. Happy anniversary!

    Hope you enjoy every minute of it.

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  11. Happy anniversary to both of you. Wishing things were different, but glad that you are together and have found your way.

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  12. Happy 25th Anniversary! That ornament quote is so fitting and perfect.

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  13. Happy anniversary! We just celebrated 5 years of marriage and even that feels like forever!

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  14. 25 years. Wow. Sincere congratulations. I wish you both all the very best.

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  15. Thank you for your wonderful post. Wishing you a wonderful day full of the love you have shared over the past 25.

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  16. Congratulations. Am so happy for you. And a great post!
    PS

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  17. Congratulations and happy anniversary!! I love your thoughts on needing to know that you can have a good life together without children. It reminds me of the many conversations my husband and I have had. :)

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  18. happy happy celebration, loribeth! how wonderful for you and the mister. quite an accomplishment! wishing you lots of love and the time to enjoy it.

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  19. Congratulations on reaching such an amazing milestone in what is obviously a love filled marriage.

    You're right, as long as you are together you will do just fine. You've already been through the toughest challenge you're likely to face as a couple (hopefully) - the loss of a child.

    I know that as long as Guvnor is by my side, we can tackle anything that life can throw at us.

    A good marriage has the ups and downs of life throughout it and it makes the couple stronger, you and DH are obviously that - it stands out in your post.

    I hope you got more calls than you were expecting from people wanting to pass their congratulations onto you.

    xxxx

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  20. Congratulations to you and your dh, Lori. 25 years - I am sure you are an inspiration to your IRL friends as well as those of us online.

    I wish you many more years of love together, as you hold hands and go along your path.

    Andie

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  21. What a beautiful post. Happy anniversary.

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  22. 25 years! Wow. Amazing.

    Congratulations.

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  23. Happy anniversary! Thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

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  24. Happy Anniversary Lori! Wow 25 years is a wonderful achievement. You've weathered the disappointments and tragedies with strength, love and commitment. Cheers to you both!

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  25. Happy Anniversary! I hope your big night out on the town is filled with good times, laughter and dancing. 25 years and all that you have lived through together entitles you both to at the very least, a good dance!
    And, you ARE good parents. I am forever sorry that Katie is not here with you, my heart aches for what was not to be. Never doubt however, the beautiful job you have done, remembering her and parenting her and her memory. She lives in all of our hearts becasue of you and your words.
    Love and joy to you my friend.
    xxoo

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  26. Congrats on your Silver Anniversary, Lori! What an incredible milestone ... and one you both should be incredibly proud of! Glad you've been able to celebrate it in style.

    Funny, Hubby & I also had our hearts set on a Classic Pooh nursery ... collecting anything that we could get our hands on, even before we started TTC. And, of course Hubby would be Pooh, while I'd pretend to be Piglet. I would LOVE to see the picture of the stained glass ornament of Pooh & Piglet.

    Again, many many heartfelt congrats to you and Hubby!

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  27. Congratulations!! 25 years - that's an achievement in this day and age, especially with everything you have gone through.
    My husband and I recently celebrated our 18th (after 10ttc with IVF/ICSI and the last 8 childfree). I do believe that if a marriage survives IF it is almost always stronger.

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  28. Congratulations on reaching this incredible milestone. What a wonderful achievement.

    Happy anniversary to you both - I hope you enjoyed your special weekend together.

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  29. In these days of instant gratification and the pursuit of fairytale endings, 25 years of marriage really is worth celebrating! I remember my parents' 25th anniversary - they'll be celebrating their 45th this Saturday and I have such enormous admiration for them - and you two - because marriage is not always easy. We've been through a bit with IF and miscarriage, but to survive your daughter's stillbirth is an enormous achievement for your partnership. Here's to another 25!

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  30. Happy Anniversary. The relationship you two have is truly something to be celebrated.

    I love hearing about your friendship with your husband. It gives me hope.

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  31. A belated happy anniversary! What a lovely photo and post...heartfelt in every way. oxoxox PJ

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  32. I'm late to the party, but wanted to send heartfelt congratulations on a very, very special anniversary.

    People who haven't been there don't understand what a challenging road you've walked, and how wonderful it is that you're still walking it together.

    I'm so happy for you.

    ox

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  33. Congratulations on 25! Happy Anniversary. Thanks for sharing your blogs. I too taking the road less traveled and at times it is very painful / sad. My heart breaks for what I thought would be a natural part of my life. I am nearing 50 years old & I truly thought it would get easier to deal with a childless life. However, I miss my children every day - the children I never knew, but love so dearly. I miss being a grandma these days too. It is not an easy road, but it is the path I have been given. Thanks again.

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  34. Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry I'm late -- CONGRATULATIONS ON 25!! What a beautiful post. And you're so right, one really has no idea what the "better or worse" stuff really means until you're trying to keep your heads up amongst the thick of it. Good for you for weathering the storm together.

    Best to you both!

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  35. Happy anniversary!

    Thanks for sharing your story with us... a story of love through better or worse. Makes this little single-girl a little more hopeful and optimistic about love.

    Enjoy the weekend! xx

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  36. Happy Anniversary....i agree with the others, beautiful post.

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  37. Found my way here via msfitzita's blog and wanted to offer my congratulations, too. 25 years in itself is an accomplishment, but even more so when the road traveled is rougher than ever imagined.

    Enjoy the next 25 and hang on to what you've got. :)

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  38. Happy Anniversary! What an accomplishment you should both be proud of! I am glad you found each other!

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  39. I just read your post today, Lori. Constant chills and sobs. Just earlier, I was working with some photos on the computer in a program new to me, and came across some graphics that I had put together for our nursery, based on a bunny that I still have from my childhood. It still remains...most days are good, but some days...

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  40. Oh, what a lovely post about true love.

    Happy Anniversary!!!

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  41. This post was so moving, so wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. And of course, congratulations on 25 years together. In loss and longing, in love and learning, many blessings to you both.

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  42. I am at work reading this and just got so choked up. Congratulations on 25 years together. You'll never know the strength I get from reading your posts.

    -Guera from www.portraitsinsepia.wordpress.com

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  43. Many congratulations to you and DH! As others have said, your relationship and your words about it are inspiring.

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  44. Happy Anniversary (belated I know)

    25 years - Congratulations!!!!!

    And that is totally cool getting new dishes and silverware after 25 years!

    Enjoy your getaway when it eventually happens!

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  45. Thank you for this beautiful blog. It gives me inspiration for my journey with my husband. Only God knows if we will be parents when we reach out 25th anniversary but what I do know is that we will have each other. Thank you. Happy Anniversary!

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  46. sorry I am so late but this post brought me to tears, through smiles. :-) Congratulations and may you have another glorious 25 years (and more)!!

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  47. CONGRATULATIONS on your silver anniversary!! All the best to you and your sweetheart!

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  48. This is so beautifully written. I admire your relationship and love for each other.

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  49. I'm fighting my way through an out of control Reader, but had to wish you a ~very~ belated Happy Anniversary. I hope you have many more blessed years together!

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  50. Our annniversaries are the same week, methinks :-) Yet another coincidence in our lives.

    I LOVE the soundtrack for Rock of Ages. Did you like the show? It's coming here this summer and I'm wondering if it's a don't miss.

    Happy belated quarter-century to you and your sweet husband. Sounds like you chose each other well and have worked side-by-side on your journey, detours and all.

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  51. I find your love and comfort inspiring.
    Congrats my dear.

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  52. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it on Creme de la Creme.

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  53. Here from the Creme. This moved me to tears. Belated congratulations on such a milestone. What a beautiful love story!

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  54. Great post! Thanks for sharing and happy belated anniversary.

    (creme)

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  55. What a beautiful love story. Such great insight. Now a follower from Creme (hope you'll follow back).

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  56. Here from creme. This post made me tear up. Huge congrats.

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  57. I love the quote from Pooh. Here from the Creme. Congratulations on being together through thick and thin.

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  58. What an amazing post about an amazing milestone in the life of an amazing woman. I feel honored to have read that post and hear the words of a woman who is so sure of herself, her partner and her life. Your relationship with your partner is truly something to be treasured (and proud of). I hope you enjoy another happy and healthy 25 years with soul mate.

    That Pooh quote was so beautiful, and seemed to fit so perfectly with your post, just as I'm sure it means so much to you in your life. Thank you for sharing the quote and your amazing outlook on life and love.

    Creme de la Creme #125
    Creme de la Creme Iron Clad Commenter Attempt 2010

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  59. From Creme. Lovely post - congratulations for holding your love together over so many hard times. I have only been married for 4 years but have been with my husband for 12 years. Your post gave me a lot of comfort because we have a wonderful life together and if we have to be child-free then I know that we will still be very happy - like you are.

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