Today is our 24th wedding anniversary.
Which is amazing since I still feel like I am 26. But the Rowdy 7 (and a hungry newborn) who keep peppering me with requests for food, conflict resolution services, and the location of their ski liners indicates that some time has passed.
Today is also my sister and brother-in-law’s 29th wedding anniversary. We both married on December 28. In the same church. With the same bridesmaid dresses. But our wedding cake was tastier.
I was a senior in high school when my sister married. She was in her third year of law school and I was her maid-of-honor. It was novel to have a sibling getting married so a group of my high school friends showed up at the wedding. We had a blast at the reception. Karen was the most beautiful bride I have ever seen.
Five years later she returned the favor as my matron-of honor. We posed quite the quandary for the church lady because I had a matron-of-honor and a maid-of-honor. I couldn’t chose between the two of them. Karen is my only sister and Chrissy is my closest childhood friend, the kind who is the answer to security questions on random websites. Sam had only one best man. During the processional the bridesmaids linked up with their respective groomsmen.
But Karen and Chrissy couldn’t exactly link up with Charlie and sashay down the aisle hanging on each of his arms. I wanted them to walk alone so people would take notice of their honored position. But the church lady was having none of it. She said a married woman couldn’t possibly walk unaccompanied down an aisle. The wedding was in Texas but it wasn’t exactly 1800. The tension mounted at the rehearsal and there was no apparent resolution until Karen stepped in. With a straight look on her face and dripping sarcasm from her lips, she told the church lady, “Marge, I like my odds and I’ll take my chances. I think I’ll make it.” She walked alone with no problems.
24 years have passed. We’ve lived in 6 different apartments/homes in Ann Arbor, Austin, Lake Villa, and Downers Grove. We met at Notre Dame. Actually we met in Dallas. Sam marched with the Irish Guard and Notre Dame was playing Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Mom and Dad hosted a dinner for the Irish Guard. Originally Mom wanted to host the entire Notre Dame band. But we talked her out of a street party for 380 students and their instruments.
The 10 member Irish Guard was cozy enough and the boys managed to eat an entire side of beef brisket and break deep into Dad’s beer stash. I showed the Guard all the sites and sounds in Dallas that week. I even ended up on the official ND band bus after the New Year’s Eve pep rally. I posed as a tuba player and somehow got away with it. The whole time was magical. Sam and I started dating after returning to campus. Three years later, to the exact day, I married him.
After we married, we wanted to frame one picture from our special day. I remember going through the wedding album to pick the perfect shot. We both agreed on this moment when we said our vows.
We have this picture hanging in our room and I pass by it every morning. When I take time to look at it, I remember those vows and my commitment.
“I, Kathleen Patricia, take you Samuel Jacob, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.“
I couldn’t write it any better myself. It encompasses everything we have been through. There has been better and there has been worse. I once got so mad at him that I took that darn picture down and stashed it in the closet for a few days. I know. The epitome of maturity. But it did feel good when he couldn’t find the picture. I eventually put it back and we had a good laugh.
There have been rich and poor times. Some of my favorite memories are from our lean years in graduate school. We lived on $11,000 in a tiny post World War II apartment at the University of Michigan. I taught 10 water fitness classes a week so we could afford auto insurance. My sister visited once while attending a law conference. She pitied me and bought me a turkey sandwich at Zingerman’s. When I went grocery shopping, I completely avoided the snack and chip aisle. When Sam got his first job at Motorola, I remember buying chips and salsa, celebrating that we had finally made it.
There has been sickness and health. Physical. Mental. Spiritual. This year in particular, there has been much sickness with Becky’s arrival and my struggle with a difficult pregnancy and delivery. Not to mention the life-altering news regarding her diagnosis.
I realize now that I had no earthly idea what we were saying on that sunny afternoon in 1996. But we said it. And so we keep living it. But only with the support and prayers of the people that filled the church on that afternoon, many of whom have died and no doubt continue interceding for us from heaven. Our parents and families continue to be our rock. The grace of God sustains us.
We have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. And we have been challenged beyond our strength. We have been brought to our knees in prayer countless times. Truly, we have a wonderful life together.
I once lamented about some circumstance in our life, noticing that someone else’s grass was greener. I don’t remember the specifics but I do remember Sam’s response. In typical engineering fashion, he noted that the grass is usually greener where you water it. I think he read that on a Hallmark card. Regardless, he’s right.
No one’s grass is as green as ours.