Sunday, April 09, 2006


I just spent a useful ten minutes trying to come up with a decent title for this post. That's nothing to the three days I've spent trying to work out what to say.

Because today is my 18th anniversary. 18 years ago we stood for a terrifying 5 minutes in my parents' livingroom and were married. Actually, 5 mintues might be an exaggeration - the guy who married us was new to the game and we had the most stripped down, bare bones ceremony possible. Certainly my step-grandmother thought so. She insisted my grandfather, the Dean of an Episcopalian cathedral, seal it up properly with a good Episcopalian prayer. Then she patted my hand and whispered loudly 'There dear, he hasn't tied many slip knots!' We signed the certificate; I didn't remember in time to ask if I should use my new name or not. It was official - at the ridiculous ages of 19 and 21 we were, gulp, married.

I know there were pretty long odds drawn on our survival as a couple. Kirk's friends definitely thought, probably hoped, we wouldn't last more than a year or two. I don't blame them - I don't think anyone reading the statistics would have thought we had a chance. Married young, pregnant a month later (yes, I know...), enlisted in the army with practically no money, pregnant again (I know, I know...) and Kirk gone on maneuvers and things for 9 months of the first year of our second child's life... pregnant AGAIN (YES, I'll have you know that is THREE forms of birth control) and out of the army to go to college with no job, and three children under the age of four. Who lasts through that? Of the three really close friends we had in those first few years, all three couples ended divorced. But we lasted - didn't just last, we thrived. We were happy, happier each year than the last.

I won't claim we never fought because we did - twice. I remember both quite clearly. The first was in California before the oldest was born and we argued loudly about whaling. That's right, whaling. I hadn't yet learned that Kirk enjoyed debate and would play devil's advocate to get a good discussion going. I also hadn't learned that there wasn't anything sacred about political or social opinions, and maybe a bit of logic was a good thing. So there was one loud, shouting fight about whether or not traditional whaling should be allowed. The second was when we were both in college, facing another year of extreme poverty and stress, and trying at the same time to renovate our tiny house. So we shouted loudly about the paint color for our child's room. Really, shouted, really got angry - to the have-to-walk-away-before-I-do-something violent stage. I was shaking with rage that he couldn't see how important it was to paint those damn walls pale blue. It took another hour to recognize how utterly stupid it all was, to apologize (both of us), and laugh about it.

But mostly it was laughter, and richness. For two years it has been all I could do to just make this day another day. Every day is difficult enough, I couldn't face something more important. But the kids and I are making some changes, and the biggest one is taking back our memories and our happiness. So today we are celebrating 18 years of family and love and happiness. Today we're being glad that we had everything we had, and that we still have eachother. We just want to be the four of us, talking about him if we want to, or not - at least just for today.

Kirk, we love you.

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