On Monday, Al and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. Actually, we started celebrating over the weekend, with Shabbat blessings in synagogue, a great performance of Pulitzer-nominated The Wolves on Saturday night, delicious Sunday brunch at a local bakery cafe, followed by a tour of the stunning Bauhaus historic home of Walter Gropius and family, a quick visit to special exhibits that deserve more time at the Worcester Art Museum, watching a quirky, funny Albanian film called Two Fingers Honey, and dinner at a cozy neighborhood Italian restaurant. Plus a special dinner on our actual anniversary Monday night. And we have still more plans for next weekend. Nothing like playing tourist in your own backyard with your best friend.
Indeed, we’ve now lived more than half of our lives together—which is astonishing, when I stop to think about it.
How can you really know, when you first marry, whether you’ll be able to keep your relationship fun and surprising, let alone weather all of life’s inevitable storms, and discover that your love for one another will continue to strengthen and flourish? Honestly, you can’t. Intuition, experience, mutual attraction, a pinch of luck—all are factors, but not determinants. I just know that the first time Al showed up on my doorstep, he surprised me with a dozen yellow tea roses. No one had ever done that before. And the first time he gave me one of his big bear hugs, I felt safe and peaceful.
All these years since, through many, many challenges with health, family, jobs, and more, he’s remained that same steady source of calm, security, optimism, and wonderment. He has the most generous heart of anyone I have ever met, infinite patience for all the mishegas of my scleroderma, and an endearing curiosity and playfulness that can push me out of my comfort zone, but often for the better. Even when he drives me crazy, and I, him, we always manage to work it through and come out stronger.
We’re a lot grayer than those two young adults who smile so blissfully in our wedding portrait. It was good that we didn’t know what lay ahead, starting with the discovery, shortly after returning from our Cape Cod honeymoon, that I had a serious autoimmune disease, with scleroderma being the ultimate diagnosis three years later. All that seems ancient history, now.
The best definition I’ve ever heard of a good marriage or partnership is to be each other’s oasis. Looking back over the past 35 years, I think we’re there. Whatever comes next, I am most grateful.
P.S. This marks my 400th blog post on Living with Scleroderma. How fitting for this to be the subject! To all of you, Dear Readers, thanks for following along.