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.