Tuesday was our wedding anniversary. 37 years.
Classes start soon and we spent the entire day moving Davie back for his fourth and final year of engineering studies at Queen's. We did seven hours of driving in separate vehicles, plus countless trips back and forth from the van to the apartment unloading stuff and checking out his new digs. Davie was with us, of course, and Jorie (18) came along for the ride since it is her last week at home too, as she is off to college tomorrow. My sister Brenda, who has recently moved an hour north from their old place in Kingston and for another two weeks or so has two houses, let us have first dibs on a pile of stuff that was left behind, before offering it up to the masses via a garage sale this Saturday. (That was the most fun part of the whole day. It felt like Christmas and then some!)
I can't tell you how many times we've spent our anniversary doing something just like this. One year (our 20th) we did a property survey together for some friends. Often, like today, it's been moving one or another child back to college. Many times it's been shopping for back-to-school clothes, or attending a family reunion, or going camping for one last-chance summer's hurrah with the entire family before the first day of school and the return of the fall routines.
At one point today, I was making myself as useful as I could with a still-sore arm by standing guard on the sidewalk in the afternoon sun, making sure no-one took any of Davie's stuff from the open van. I was trying to enjoy watching the others hard at work but I couldn't help feeling guilty, even though I had a good excuse. Ron walked past me with his arms full of furniture. He had a twinkle in his eye and one eyebrow slightly cocked as he looked at me and said as he passed, "37 years. Can you believe it?"
That was all he had to say and we laughed together. Had anyone been watching us, I doubt they would have understood the joke. It was a laugh of deep intimacy and common understanding. After 37 years together, he didn't have to explain anything to me, and I didn't have to ask. I knew exactly what he meant. As I watched him recede down the sidewalk, his eyes still twinkling, and a fresh spring in his step, I finished the joke in my mind. "Someday maybe we'll actually get to say that to each other over candlelight and wine!" It wasn't necessary to say it out loud. He knew. And he knew that I knew. And I knew that he knew. And that's what we were laughing about.
It's funny, but there was a time I would most likely have felt some resentment at such a turn of events. I would have felt cheated out of that romantic celebration which would have been looming large in my expectations, whether or not it made any sense given all the other things going on in our lives. But today, being busy moving furniture felt good. It was a comfortable feeling. We were doing what God gave us to do. Serving our kids. Making an investment in their lives. And we were doing it together. We couldn't have been happier, and we've never been more in love.
It hasn't always been easy. Sometimes it hasn't even been "good". But it's been. We've failed, we've shared some successes. We've grown apart, and we've grown back together again. Like two vines intertwining, wrapping themselves around and around one another, the two becoming one, and the new one stronger being formed from the two. Yes, by God's grace, and to some people's surprise, including at times our own, we've become something good together. Something very good.
Happy anniversary, honey. Next year in Jerusalem! (Maybe!)