Fifteen And Counting
Fifteen years ago today we stood together in our garden and cast our collective fate to the four winds. A garden that I’d fertilized to a faretheewell just to have a riot of flowers surround us as we said yes, we would, in sickness and in health, and in everything else that married couples face. I didn’t realize it then, but I’d be fertilizing throughout our entire marriage, since love needs to be fed even more than flowers do, if you want it to bloom.
We’ve been through a lot together in those fifteen years. Moving to France, learning to speak French and understand French culture, and love la vie française, the part of our life that French Letters readers know the best,
and learning more than we ever wanted to know about French hospitals, was just part of our story. One of the most challenging, most interesting, and yes, best parts, to be sure, but really only a fraction of our lifetime together.
We’ve had tough times, like every couple, times when we thought we might not make it. But we did.
We’ve spent many a sunny day together, carefree, hot and sweet, when life couldn’t have been easier and we counted our blessings hourly.
But there have been plenty of dark, rainy, and snowy times as well, times we felt like giving up, times when every bit of happiness seemed to elude our grasp. That’s life with cancer. You can’t hold happiness too tightly, we learned from all that. Kiss and run, if you have to, but don’t to forget to kiss.
Having already been in our forties when we met, each with a marriage in our past and each having had a son along the way, we’ve spent quite a few “why didn’t we meet when we were both much younger?” moments, and a bit of time trying to regain our lost youth. But really, do we want all that back? Or is the point of marrying late to grow old together, to leave behind all that restless yearning and to finally really settle into someone?
I know that to others we probably do seem restless, endless wanderers. We’ve lived together in California, Washington, Ohio, Washington again, France, and Washington yet again. And maybe, radiation gods, cancer gods, and all the other forces of nature willing, we’ll live in France again. Sometimes we think that we’re probably old enough to settle down someplace, superannuated for the task even, but then we remember that home is wherever we both are, always has been, and the heart’s where we’re settled, always will be.
We knew that Shel had cancer when we married, fifteen years ago. And living with cancer like that, every single moment, day in and day out, time out of mind, sure raises a lot of questions. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that whatever the question is, love is the answer. So Happy Anniversary, best beloved, and here’s to fifteen more.
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