Today would have marked our fourteenth year of marriage. Fourteen years of upholding legal and spiritual vows that bound us together with an unseen thread. On these special days I am acutely aware of my loss, but this morning my grief is exaggerated as I ponder what could have been. Mourning the fact that I will never be a half of those couples that celebrates forty, fifty or even more decades with one constant love.
My whole life I have had the privilege to witness many milestone anniversaries with family and close friends. Large celebrations where people travel great distances to reminisce about the time a specific pair has been together. To laugh at the comedic, cry at the devotion, and marvel at the path two souls could travel side by side. Even as a young woman I knew the road wasn’t like a parade, full of cheering, marching bands and confetti, but rather an endurance race, with rough terrain, harsh weather and just enough splendour to keep you motivated.
And I anticipated that day when my husband and I would be celebrated by all our family and friends. When it would be my love story that would capture the hearts of the listeners. When my history would be told as though it were the olden days. When my husband would catch my eye across the crowd and wink at me as I would mouth “I love you” back. And that look would communicate thoughts and feelings that words never could.
This all because we had put in the time. Coming back to each other humble and broken, time and time again, committed more to us and the covenant we made than to our own desires.
I always felt assured that I had it in me. It was never a question of if, but rather who with. Not in an arrogant sort of way, but with a tenacious, loyal, stubborn mindset. And the life that Colin and I built together only confirmed for me that I would get there. Knowing that our marriage was held safely in the palm of the Almighty there was never a moment of doubt that one day our children would plan that Golden Anniversary party. There was every confidence that we would survive the trek. And not only cross that finish line, but do it holding hands, leaning on each other, and more committed than when we started.
And it breaks my heart that I will not get to be one of those couples now. As I watch marriages fall apart all around me or limp along in mediocrity it is like salt in the wound. Wishing I still had the chance to fight through all the hurdles relationships bring. Missing the frustration of unmet expectations, or the resentment of unnoticed sacrifice. Hurt, disappointment, the mundane, and all the pain. The things that you only get to feel when you have someone in your world that means more to you than your own life.
And it may seem strange that on a day like today that this is what I am thinking of, what I am longing for. But these are the burdens that walk hand in hand with the poignance of such deep deep bonds. You can’t have one without the other. Which I guess makes both sides a privilege.
Really, the devastation of great loss is a testimony of a greater love.