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)