So our anniversary vow reaffirmation was everything and more that we hoped it would be. We will be doing a few posts to share the highlights but today belongs to our daughter. She has given us permission to share with you the speech that she made right before we said our vows. If we had known how moved we would be at her words, we would have gone first…
Here she is:
and here is what she said:
“I’m nineteen now, and let me tell you, nineteen is a bit of a scary age. You walk around as an adult but you’re still a teenager, just a little bit. You aren’t really sure where you want to go with your life, or of all the turns life will take. You’re scared and excited about the future.
My parents were nineteen and twenty when they got engaged, and only a little older than that when they got married. Right now, to me, it seems crazy to promise forever when you aren’t even sure what you’ll be doing next year. Nonetheless, they stood up in front of their families, their friends, in front of the law, in front of the church, and in front of God to promise forever. In sickness, and in health, for richer, and for poorer, for better or for worse, they promised forever.
When you’re nineteen though, you’re so full of hope for the future that all the sickness, the poorer, and the worse fade into insignificance in the face of all the hopes that you have for your life. You’ve embarked on the great journey of life with some almost-stranger who has stolen your heart, and you somehow remain absolutely sure that despite anything life might throw at you, you can still promise in total confidence that you will be together forever.
Standing up at the altar when they got married, I don’t think either of them could have imagined even the smallest part of what would happen in the next 25 years. All of the bad things were worse than they would have hoped. All of the good things were better than they could have dreamed.
My mom once told me that if her twenty year old self had known what her life would become, standing up there at the altar, she probably would have made a run for it. I think that’s true of nearly everyone who has ever been married. Those vows that you make when you’re young and idealistic are fragile until they have been tempered with conflict, with sleepless nights, and with all the ups and downs that life can throw at you.
My parents have endured some pretty tough things together. They’ve suffered through infertility, job changes, sick and crying babies, and fights. They’ve had to lose important people. They’ve had to watch both of their children be rushed to the hospital with their lives hanging in the balance. But the reality is that each time they endure one of these trials, they emerge knowing that their marriage is stronger for it. And the good times haven’t been so bad either – after all, they had Colin and I.
If I have learned one thing from my parents, it is that while love is essential, it is not enough to weather the dark times. Blind faith alone will not carry you through. Despite the often-quoted statistics about the divorce rate, and the disparaging of the institution of marriage, those vows are the framework that holds everything together through the rough patches. Wedding vows symbolize not only love, but also a promise that even in those dark times, you will be truly committed to doing anything to preserving that love.
Twenty-five years is more than half of my parents’ lives, and without question they have seen the best and the worst of each other. They have grown and changed and yet have somehow continued to make time to love each other and to get to know each other again and again throughout the years.
So we’re here today to witness a re-affirmation of the wedding vows that they spoke twenty-five years ago. The first vows were made with boundless hope for the future and a determination to succeed. Now older and maybe, just maybe, a little wiser, they make these second vows with confidence. These vows look at the hardships they have endured together and, despite all the sickness, the poorer, and the worse, promise forever once again.
I hope that Colin and I can take their example in our own lives, and that in some thirty-odd years we can gather here again for our own reaffirmation of vows. I think that love and that marriage are a lot harder than we give people credit for, but at least we know it is possible to still want to promise forever after all the bad things happen. I am so glad to say that my parents still love, respect, and truly like each other now perhaps more than they did when they spoke their vows for the first time.
Here’s to 25 more!”
And there is nothing to add to that, except we could not be more proud of our children. They are our love and light. Having them stand with us last week was a wonderful experience. Here we are just before we headed down the aisle, all four of us.