In Memory of Us
Our bed is verdant,
The beams of our house are cedars
Our rafters are firs
My lover has gone down to his garden
To gather lilies, still
I am my lover’s and my lover is mine.
Song of Solomon
My darling, today on our wedding anniversary, I am filled with you. 38 years ago the weather was unseasonably warm for our ceremony at St. James Church in Falls Church. Your friend Richard was best man because you did not want to choose between your beloved brothers. Ours was a small wedding, mostly family.
Afterward we drove to Philadelphia for a large Polish wedding reception, where your entire family of aunts, uncles, and many cousins came to celebrate. Few from my family came. All this pointed to what our marriage would be. Your ethnicity would dominate. Against my mother’s wishes, I converted to Catholicism because I could see no other way to unite with you spiritually. Through the decades I bent to please you. I hate conflict and you ran to it, always relishing a fight. I was flexible, and you with an iron will.
Changes in me disappointed you, while your refusal to change was almost a deal-breaker for me. You wanted more children. I was happy with one, our son. I put away my childish ways, while you clung to some of yours. We fought. Often I did not believe we would stay together.
Still we provided launching pads for each other’s dreams. You wrote your book. You got your degrees, your jobs. You started your own successful business. International companies called wanting your expertise. I wrote my stories, sold them, got a graduate degree, and kept writing through university teaching. First my short story collection was published, then before you died, my novel came out from Loyola Press. All this you promoted. You rushed at life and encouraged me to do the same.
The day after our wedding we went to New Hope for our honeymoon. We stayed at a charming bed and breakfast, where a washtub of periwinkle pansies dewy with rain stood by the door. I always plant those pansies this time of year to remember. Our honeymoon lasted one day. All our married lives, I waited for a time when we could be together in leisure without striving. That time never came.
But oh my handsome darling I miss you so. Happy anniversary.