Today Scott and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary.
I feel like I should write something profound and meaningful about being married for 16 years and having two sets of twins and a surprise. (Yes, it was a surprise because a certain husband was quite sure that we were too old to get pregnant and, like a teenager in the backseat of a steamed-up car, I listened to him.)
But we are here at 16 years.
Annie Lamott tells this story in her wonderful book on writing and life, Bird by Bird. She tells how her 10 year old brother waited until the very last minute to write his school report on birds. Daunted by the task and the impending due date, the distraught boy sat with his head on the table, eyes welling up with frustrated tears, surrounded by pencils and papers and unopened books on birds. (What parent hasn’t lived this scene?!) Lamott’s father sits down next to the boy and puts his arm around him and says, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
And that is how I think we’ve done this marriage thing, bird by bird.
Some birds are beautiful and thrilling and absolutely spectacular and you want to think that your marriage is that bird. So easy to write about that bird. Often the birds are the durable (and territorial) cardinal that appears in its red glory suddenly and unexpectantly and the sight makes you smile and linger at the window staring at the fence post. You feel strong in your commitment. There are the annual migration of birds. . .the issues that always seem to return year after year because they belong to this particular marriage and they really won’t ever be resolved. Mostly, though, there are a lot of pesky sparrows nesting where they aren’t supposed to, but you learn to leave them alone because the nesting is fleeting and there is something magical about the eggs and the chicks and the first flights.
There are moves and houses and renovations and doubts about having a family. There are children and children and more moves and frustrations and trips and illness and uncertainties and impending teenagers.
You also learn that laughter is better than love letters and unwavering acceptance is the only way to age together.
You remember and recite (sometimes under your breath) the words from First Corinthians: Love is patient. . .Love is kind. . . (and most importantly) Love never fails.
Love continues bird by bird.