Being a Couple by Sharon O’Donnell
This past week my husband Kevin and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. It is difficult to believe that my wedding and all the events surrounding it took place that long ago because so many of them are still fresh in my memory. At the same time, an awful lot has happened since then, and it does seem fathomable that it has indeed been 25 years for all these things to take place. And Kevin and I have had our ups and downs but overall we’ve had a good 25 years together, and I think that if those young twenty-somethings that we used to be could have foreseen the future, they would have been happy with what was lying ahead.
We dated for 3 years before we got married, entering into a year-long engagement several months after the death of Kevin’s father, which was part of the reason the engagement was rather long; Kevin still had a lot of emotional things to go through in dealing with his father’s death — not a particularly good time to start a marriage. But we had been discussing getting engaged at the time his dad passed away unexpectedly, and to put even the engagement on hold for too long didn’t seem right. So several days before Easter, Kevin proposed by bringing me an Easter basket with the ring hidden in one of the eggs. I still have the basket upstairs in a chest, complete with that straggly, fake, green grass that was in it.
The songs we had sung at our wedding were not very familiar to most people; one is called “This is the Day”, which my niece also had sung at her wedding, and the other one (besides The Wedding Prayer) was “I Wish You Jesus”, which basically sang about all the things someone could wish us on our wedding day but none would be a more complete wish than simply saying they wish us Jesus in our marriage. Since that song is not often heard, it seems strange when I play it because it takes me immediately back to that April day. I don’t hear the song on the radio or other places, so it reminds me completely and totally of our wedding. (Of course my husband would never remember that we even had songs at our wedding, much less what they were.) A few anniversaries ago, I took out the old album that I discovered the song on when I was planning the wedding and played it again, surrounded by photos of our life together on the walls of our family room. It took on a new meaning as I listened to the words and looked at the photos of our 3 sons, of our other family members, of our parents, and even of our dog — and of the memorabilia and awards that were here and there in the house. I haven’t played the song for this anniversary, but I plan to do so today. It gives me a fresh perspective. It has been a wonderful 25 years. No, the romance is not as it once was, and the stresses of parenthood, my husband’s company, and just living together do sometimes get to be overwhelming. But here is this person whom I’ve spent 25 years with — 28 if you count the dating — and we are still together, having come through so much as partners in life.
Our youngest son is on camping trip this weekend, and the other two are in college. Last night, I stood in the hallway in between their three empty rooms, and I felt melancholy. The quiet was almost deafening. I knew soon, though, that the youngest one would be back and the middle one would be home from college for the summer, and the sound of X-Box games and bouncing basketballs would return. I miss my sons when they’re gone, but I know that when their rooms are empty for good, Kevin and I will once again be by ourselves like it was when we started out. And despite missing the kids, I find I’m also looking forward to that time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like to be a couple. After 25 years, maybe we can find out again.