"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Thirty years ago yesterday, I walked trembling down an aisle and met this man at the end. We made promises to each other without really understanding where those promises might take us. In the time since I have both regretted and rejoiced in my commitment to a life with Walt, as I know he has. Regardless, we have stuck together. We created a life.

In thirty years we've loved three golden retrievers, twenty-six cats, two homes, hundreds of children. We've travelled thousands of miles in three different Hondas. We've planted dozens of trees together. We've hiked hundreds of miles on trails that took our breath away and took us to heights that made us certain of love and a higher power. There have been laugher and tears. There have been silences, some comfortable, some icy and painful. We've sat in the dark of movie theaters holding hands. We have said I love you and hugged good morning and good night every day. We've held each other through losses that felt unbearable, but which we bore together.

Our anniversary celebration included a rafting trip, and a mini road trip that took us through a bison range, a ghost town, a national park, and up a mountain on a chair lift. We hiked down that mountain together, enjoying the sunshine, the huckleberries, and the ability of our aging bodies to still move with some agility. We navigated the time and the miles together, occasionally getting lost or turned around, but always ending up somewhere interesting. We planned and changed plans, negotiated and renegotiated. We problem solved and focused on the adventure rather than the inconvenience. In so many ways, the two weeks held the elements that define of our thirty years of marriage.

In those times when I was sure I'd made a huge mistake walking down that aisle, I stayed because being with Walt has allowed me to become the best possible version of myself. His steady and unwavering love has provided the ground from which I've blossomed. I've learned to love from him.

During this most recent trip, I came across a quote that illustrates almost exactly what our marriage has become. The words of Rainer Maria Rilke both validate what is past and provide a map for the years ahead of us:

"The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky."

In the years that remain to us, as we learn to become old in the most alive way possible, the journey will be richer and fuller because we travel through an immense space of sky together.


Linda Hoye said...

What a wonderful tribute to Walt and your marriage. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Happy Anniversary! That is such a cute picture of you two. My marriage failed, but only because we were both selfish. My consolation prize is my children and the grands! I'll take it.

#1Nana said...

Happy Anniversary! It's a lovely piece of writing. I hope await loved it too. The universe is providing the entertainment for our anniversary; we celebrate 46 years this year with the eclipse.

Linda Reeder said...

Your writing is always a welcome treat and an inspiration. Congratulations on your anniversary. Having a life mate to grow old with is such a treasure.

DJan said...

Congratulations on thirty years together! I love this piece, Deb, and that quote at the end is perfect for me and my partner of 25 years. I will share it with him and know he will agree that it speaks for us, too. :-)

Dee said...

Dear Deb, Congratulations on the thirty-year journey you and Walt have taken together thus far. May the future hold many more possibilities for growth in the human spirit for both of you. Peace.

Deborah Barker said...

Congratulations Deb - a lovely description of a marriage that many of us can empathise with. I have my thirty eight anniversary coming up and while we have had our ups and downs, we always seem to come together in the end. Our strength is our ability to give each other space. Inspirational writing as always. Thank you Deb and enjoy the years to come!

Colleen Bender said...

Happiest of Anniversaries and what a beautiful post with such remarkable honesty. Marriage is a dance regardless of how much each person loves the other, but it is more than obvious, when I see you and Walt, the deep love and respect you have for one another comes from years of learning to dance! Here's to many more years of happiness for you and Walt. You both deserve nothing but the best! Lots of love to you both!!