Thirty-seven years of the same person, day after day, night after night, moment after moment.
When I look back at my childhood, I often wonder how you guys lasted thirty-seven years. I’ve tried to discover the magical secret that kept you together when anyone else would have tossed the rings and the commitments out the window.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize this is your secret (and I’m about to share it with everyone, sorry):
You took 37 years, and you lived them moment by moment.
Thirty-seven years of incredible, wonderful, horrifying, frightening, peaceful, blissful moments- you took them as they came. One at a time.
Like the moment you walked into a shopping mall to buy curtains for your very first apartment, saw a puppy in a pet store window, and went home as a family of three (a curtainless family of three).
The moment you found out the baby you’d been praying for was growing inside you; the moment, 10 years later, that you watched her tired eyes light up when, after months of wasting away to nothing, she saw her doctor walk into her hospital room and say “We know what’s wrong, and we can fix it;” the moment, 11 years after that, she walked through the door and told you she was starting her own lifetime of moments with someone.
The moment you met your second little girl and Dad walked around the hospital room sobbing, thanking the entire staff, and exclaiming, “I have another daughter!” The moment, many years later, that you saw the lump on that little girl’s back and knew your life was about to be turned upside down; the moment, 5 years after that, that she told you in a few short months, you’d have a new title: grandparents.
The moment you arrived at my apartment to see pictures from our trip to Ireland and instead saw a cake on the table that read, “We’re having a baby;” the moment, 4 years later, that you walked into my hospital room at 3am to wish me luck delivering that baby’s little sister; and of course, the moment Mom held my hand as that little girl made her big entrance into the world.
The moments you were promoted at work and the future suddenly looked brighter; the moments you were laid off and that future was suddenly dark and uncertain.
The moment the doctor looked at Dad and said, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer,” and the moment he said “Congratulations, you’re cancer-free!”
The moment the doctor looked at Mom and said, “You need open-heart surgery,” and the moment he said, “She made it through.”
The moments that money was “ok”; the moments there was no money at all.
The moments when the new landlord would hand you the key and say, “Welcome to your new home!” and the moments the landlord would say, “I’m sorry, I’m selling the house.”
The moments we ran around the beach, gathering shells, building castles and holding your hands as you saved us from the biggest waves….and the moments the two of you adjusted to vacations being just the two of you.
The quiet moments, early in the morning, sipping coffee on the porch of Uncle Tony’s condo in Vermont while your two little girls sleepily watched cartoons and waved to you from the living room.
The crazy moments spent getting those little girls ready for their proms, their graduations, and their weddings.
Of course, we can’t forget the moment that started it all- the moment that Mom, you pulled into that gas station 38 years ago, rolled down your window, looked up, locked eyes with Dad, and suddenly couldn’t remember what you were supposed to say.
The moment Dad, you handed Mom that little plastic robot full of candy, and she opened it to find a ring.
The moment you stood in a church in front of everyone you love, and promised that no matter what moments were ahead of you, you’d face them together.
And you have.
You’ve taken a moment here….and a moment there…and used them to build this vibrant, full, infinitely strong life together.
You’ve used the best moments to show us how life is meant to be lived; you’ve used the worst moments to teach us how to handle ourselves when life refuses to cooperate.
And through every moment I’ve been lucky enough to share with you through the years- the good, the bad, the frighteningly ugly and the devastatingly beautiful- I’ve noticed one constant.
As each moment washes over you, your hands instinctively reach for each other, your eyes lock for a just a second, and you live that moment together.
So that’s it. The secret’s out.
Happy 37th Anniversary, Mom and Dad. May you have many, many more moments ahead of you, and may your hands be firmly entwined as you walk through each of them, one at a time.