Today, my parents celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Three whole decades it’s been since they gave themselves to each other, to honor each other as man and wife for the rest of their lives, to accept children lovingly from God. And I’ve been around for 24 years of that marriage, my sister for 26. We, the children they lovingly accepted, have so benefitted from their married love. They have given us life and have taught us how to love. They have loved us by loving each other.
I delight in hearing stories from the early days, stories of their cross-country road trip in a car of questionable quality, their shoebox of a basement apartment where you could open the fridge while sitting at the table, and most especially the one that began it all: their first meeting. (It’s so good it hurts.) They were in the choir together, and they met at the sign of peace. The sign of peace. And what my mom first noticed about my dad is that, when their eyes met, he didn’t look away. He held her gaze. And the rest is history.
And in 24 years, I’ve seen: marriage isn’t easy. Marriage goes far beyond that first sign of peace, that camping trip in the Grand Canyon, that newlywed glow that covers the stubborn crickets in the shoebox apartment with its special hue of perfection. To love is to will the good of another, Aquinas says. It’s a choice, it’s a yes, it’s a grace when the glow is gone. And my parents have chosen and do choose and will keep choosing each other, choosing to love and to give and to lay down their very lives in service of the other.
And they keep choosing us, too—my sister and me. There’s been something sacred about our time as a family this summer, time in the midst of danger and loss and uncertainty. Never before have I been so very grateful to be alive, and not just alive, but alive with them, loving them and being loved in return. There’s no way I’d rather have it.