Can you celebrate (with great joy) a wedding anniversary even though you’re the only one of the couple in question still standing? My own answer is a definite yes. Individuals die, but love and good humor and wonderful memories go right on being the part of life that doesn’t end. Ever.
September 26 marked 55 years since that lovely fall day in 1959 when Van and I began what was a joy-filled 50+ years together. And, yes, I’m celebrating and remembering what a remarkable journey it was.
First, where it began when we officially met on the porch of the house where we eventually lived together the last 13 or so years of his life – coming full circle – and, most importantly, how we spent those years full of love and adventure, with just enough occasional grumpy moments thrown in to keep us real.
He was a fine journalist and editor, loving his work – well, most of it – and steadfast in his conviction that the best, and possibly the only, way to understand the issues of the day was to immerse himself in the minds and lives of the people those issues influenced. So he watched and listened with all of his senses before he wrote a word. And sometimes he took me along.
Who could forget casual conversation with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a nondescript Johannesburg meeting room? Or peering out the bus windows in Beijing as the residents along the street pointed and laughed at what they considered the oversized noses on the faces of those Americans waving back at them? What about the poignant exchange-without-a-common-language with an elderly Romanian woman standing in line more than three hours to cast her first vote ever, expressing her gratitude and wonder through tears of joy that needed no translation? Or enduring days on end of Mississippi’s crippling summer heat and long hard weeks of record winter snows in Pennsylvania? Those are just a few of the extremes we lived through together. On the other end of the scale were the two marvelous children we produced and loved - and what a joy they continue to be.
Of course, some of life is pretty ho-hum in and of itself. Goes with the territory. And that’s where the wonder of living with a remarkable partner makes the difference.
For those of you still experiencing those feelings: cherish them. But don’t feel sad for me. When you’ve had a good marriage, as we did, it doesn’t end. It just evolves. And when yet another wedding anniversary comes along, you celebrate with a smile and a grateful heart that those years together were the best gift you could possibly share. That’s why September 26 will always rate a great big circle on my calendar. Happy anniversary, dear Van. I hope that one day there’ll be room on your pink cloud for the two of us to watch it all unfold. Together.
[Caroline Cavett, email@example.com, holds dear the memories of eight years in the Diocese of Bethlehem. She lives on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and is an active member of Good Shepherd Church where "we still do not handle snakes; we read and write and use the liturgy quite coherently, and we all wear shoes." She and her late husband Van were parishioners at the Cathedral while Van served as Comment Pages editor at The Morning Call. Caroline wrote good stories for the former Diocesan Life and channeled Gilbert and Sullivan in ditties about the Diocese of Bethlehem.]