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Category Archives: marriage

The Best Is Yet to Be

In a storybook or chick flick it would have been the “happy ending.” Allison and Alex would still have run radiant and laughing through the shower of dried lavender we threw. When they pulled away in the “Just Married” car the screen would have faded. The credits would have rolled as the soundtrack switched to Taylor Swift or Ingrid Michaelson–a gooey sweet ballad about finding love at last. We would have left the theater satisfied. Happy endings make us, well, happy.

In so-called “real life” I think there are even better things–like happy beginnings and happy middles and hard work and hard times and sacrifice and sticking it out and making it work. Like deciding to stay in love and stay together and share it all.  A month ago we celebrated a happy beginning, the genesis of something so profound and beautiful that it shifts the weight of eternity. A new family–two hearts, four hands, one future–was forged. We took photographs and ate cake and danced on Allison and Alex’s wedding day in honor of endless possibility and potential beyond imagination.

Today marks their four week anniversary and their unabashed bliss makes my heart smile. It especially touches me because they have encountered some unexpected bumps in the road. Alex took a hard-thrown softball to the face in an intramural ballgame a few days after they returned from their honeymoon.  It shattered the front of his skull–left his cheek and jaw literally in pieces. Hours of facial reconstruction surgery followed. He now sports metal plates in his face (just call him Wolverine) and enough stitches to give Frankenstein a run for his money. When we talk to Alex and Allie on the phone I half-expect to fill the “shoulder-to-cry-on” role. Nope. It goes more like this:

Jerie: “How are you doing?”

Allison: “We’re in love, did we tell you? Marriage is the best!”

Jerie: “Alex, you hanging in there?”

Alex: “I’ve got an angel wife to take care of me. What else do I need?”

And so on–not a word of complaint, no whine-fest or pity-party, or if-only. Alex and Allison will take other blows-to-the-face as their life unfolds. But stacked up next to the facts that they have each other and they have eternity, the difficulties don’t loom so large. Cynics might snort and chalk it up to newlywed naivete, but I know better. I know because after twenty-eight years my heart still cartwheels in my chest when Bob walks into a room. Heavy times feel lighter and happy things take wing because we walk side by side. Still. To Alex and Allie I say, “Bravo!” Marriage is the best. And it only gets better as we face the bumps in the road together. I love the way Robert Browning said it:

Grow old along with me!                                                                        
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

Exactly. The best is yet to be. And be. And be.

>Duet

>Do you remember the first time your piano teacher gave you a book of duets? I sat next to Mrs. Mayola Kerr every Wednesday afternoon in 2nd grade or so, laboriously plunking out almost-recognizable melodies. Boring. Then one day Mrs. Kerr opened a duet book and said, “You play the primo (that’s the right hand) and I’ll play the secondo on the bottom.” Sudden music filled the small living room, rich and rolling and irresistible. The magic of it took my breath away.  Looking at Mrs. Kerr’s wrinkled hands next to mine on the black and white keys, I recognized a miracle. Our four hands together could create what my two small hands could scarce imagine–complex counterpoint. Music.

Today I celebrate a remarkable duet. This is my parents’ anniversary. Fifty-seven years ago today they hopefully placed their four hands side by side on one set of keys and began to create together what they could scarce have imagined individually. Life music. Their miraculous, complex counterpoint shaped me and informed my view of the world. Sometimes Mom played primo while Dad steadily provided the deep notes that held her up. Other times Dad took the melody while Mom harmonized or kept the rhythm going in the left hand. They improvised well when life took unexpected turns, playing off each other with complementary ease. But they also practiced and prepared carefully to fill our home with the worthy, the lovely, the nourishing. Lucky me to grow up in the world they made. I learned to sing out loud, to dance with joy, to hum softly, and to simply listen with my heart.

Mom’s two hands rest on the keyboard now, unaccompanied. The melody she plays must sound thin, solitary to her ear. But let me tell you what I hear:  The exquisite duet that took breath and began fifty-seven years ago today has expanded, crescendoed, spilled over in jubilant song. A symphony. Hear it, Mom. Listen to the liquid sound of love without end and eternal ensemble. The music of eighty hands surrounds you. It intertwines and undergirds and carries your lovely melody forward. The duet may be suspended for a moment, but you will never play solo again.

Happy Anniversary, Mom. And Dad. I love the song you started.