"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.