Rick has already written his vows. He knows what he intends to say, even if he still plans to finesse the wording.
Me? I’m what we call a procrastinator.
To be fair, it’s June and our wedding is in October. In my defense, much remains to take in on the subject of love before one professes it eternally. I find my mental space evolving constantly from one filled with autumn leaves, white dresses, and music, to one more observant of the subtle rhythms and patterns that form a marriage. I watch my parents, my friends, my coworkers, and observe the way they talk about marriage and the way the don’t talk about it. I take note of the specialized functions that develop in a two-person distribution of labor. I watch the veiled jabs and gentle support that dance together through a conversation between lovers. I watch the ways that friends slowly disclose the intimacies that make their marriages work, and I watch Rick and myself as we navigate the road that will take us to these places.
But most recently, I have watched with a heavy heart as my grandfather has been torn from my grandmother by death. I recognize that the experience of grief is a universal one that we can all expect to experience, but as I often do, I come back to the specificity of THEIR lives and their love. They married so young that he needed a fake ID to get a marriage license. They shared their lives together for almost 65 years. And in death, perhaps, they shared more intimacy about themselves than ever before. He laid with her in bed, we all did, as she passed away from us. I watched his poise and stoicism melt before me as he lost her.
My family is not a sentimental one. Gruff, even. But we wear hard exteriors to hide soft interiors. Having the vantage point on marriage that her loss provides as I approach mine, perhaps is one of the gifts my grandmother is giving me posthumously. She had a sharp intuition, that one. And I credit her with helping me make my decision to come to Australia – a decision that has made all the difference in my life. Her judgement was good.
I am, therefore, taking in the way Rick looks at me in the sleepy mornings and the way my heart melts when he talks about our puppy. In these vignettes I have begun to envision the architecture of our marriage, and the possible evolution of it with time.
Each time I speak to my Grandpa and hear the ways he is re-envisioning his life daily, recognizing the loss of structure, companionship, and intimacy he faces, I am reminded of what I’m signing up for. I hope that I can emulate what he had and I take each painful observation as a lesson in what to strive for.