As June begins, thus starts a countdown...a passage of days until June 15. And a quarter of a century.
As my daughter paints her nails with Mickey Mouse ears as she readies herself for Grad Nite at Disneyland, I recall my own Grad Nite, our secret sparkling on my left hand--the engagement ring that we were planning to unveil at prom. But news this good couldn't wait, and I wore the diamond solitaire centered on the brushed gold band all night long. I tottered through the Magic Kingdom on high heels and in a skirt, the usual Grad Nite attire, my hand in his, the ring feeling cold and odd on my finger as the evening started. Yet by dawn, the ring belonged there, its weight comfortable, its promise inherent. Tearfully I removed it until the prom the next week.
A week later, during a quiet dinner for two served at my home, the ring was mine permanently, myself dressed in my mother's prom dress of fitted bodice and white net with pink satin bow, leaning across the candle-lit table as he slid the ring onto my left hand and promised to love me always.
A year later, a brushed-gold band joined the delicate diamond ring--the gold band designed in deep-emerald wax by Keith, the wax form melted out after the form was set; the melted gold poured in. Then the band brushed in a light criss-cross pattern, a smaller twin of his ring. On the June evening twenty-five years ago this month, the rings were given, the vows promised.
And we've walked--and continue to walk--hand in hand, rings pressed into soft flesh, through better and worse, through richer and poorer, through sickness and health. And none have parted us. None will.
My illness swells joints, and the two rings, engagement and wedding, sit in velvet-lined drawer, waiting for joints to normalize. My great-grandmother's slightly larger wedding band takes their place for now. Keith's band sits in the medicine cabinet as it causes itching and rashes when he wears it.
But love is more than bands, even golden ones. Love is feeling between sheets beneath heft of quilt, reaching for the other's hand to grasp in whispered prayer in darkness before sleep takes us. Love is pulling myself up from chair in eastern light, desiring his arms around me in morning embrace, my nose buried in his warm neck. Love is his gift of delicious meals each night, cooked despite his exhaustion of working all day, his hands roughened by the manual labor of the handyman work he does to put the wonderful meals in the pantry and on the table.
The communion of spirits, of Spirit, lived out in sacrament of marriage--in low conversations in wee small hours o' night, his bass voice reverberating through chest wall, my cheek rising and falling with his breath. Intimacy of souls, blessed by Hand of our Father, to Whom we pray together, with Whom we hope and dream together.
That's love, and prayer, and marriage--almost a quarter century of marriage. And we wait, ready for the next twenty-five...or more.