Today is our wedding anniversary: 33 years.
When I look at my wedding pictures, I seem impossibly young.
I was 23 when I married my fella. He was 42. A golden anniversary may not be a likelihood for us, but I think we've done quite well, don't you? A marriage of more than 30 years is not so commonplace any more.
I've thought a lot about what to say here about our years together.
It would be dishonest to say they've all been good.
We had a tough time adjusting to one another at first. My stubbornness and independence didn't mix well with his one-generation-older views about marriage. But we bumped along, frequently clashing, and somehow made it through to the next part.
My fella worked on a ship and was away from home for weeks at a time. My independence worked to my advantage during those absences, but it wasn't always easy to adjust to one another again when he came home again.
Departures posed their own set of challenges and anxieties, often marked by fiery clashes between the two of us.
There have been illnesses and hardships.
There has been deep sadness and great joy.
Some years we grew together, other years apart.
There were long periods of time when we really didn't like each other.
Sometimes it seemed the only thing that held us together was the fact that marriage is not just about emotion; it's a business partnership too. The financial consequences of separation kept us together when emotional strife might have torn us asunder.
There have been good times, too: lots and lots of them.
Times so joyous that it seemed my heart would burst from the sheer magnitude of it.
Moments so tender they made me cry.
Struggles surmounted and discoveries made together, trips taken and stories told, company kept and grand-babies to hold.
So, so good all of that, that in the end it outweighed the bad stuff, making it all worthwhile.
So what can I say about our years together?
That life is hard and times are often difficult.
That when things are bad they can seem very bad indeed.
That the bad years may well outnumber the good but, for me at least, it's been more than worth it to tough it out.
Because, when the good times are so very good, love's light can illuminate even our darkest hours.
Turns out Will Shakespeare had it right:
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no (wo)man ever loved.