This is the 43rd anniversary of the marriage of Kay Allen and David L. Lewis. That means we have, as they now say, "been together" for precisely this many years -- and not one day more. This represents years of varying degrees of sickness and some of health; a few moments of riches and many days of poverty. And, till death do us part does not seem as far in the distance as it once did. I don't know what is so amazing: how young I now see we were then, or how old I thought I was at the time
Kay and I were born during World War II, so neither is technically a baby-boomers. We have lived with one part of us in the world that existed before the War, and one part living in the culture that has come to be since. I suppose growing up in the 1950s we both went into marriage assuming we'd made a lifetime commitment. "Unto death" was what our parents and grandparents did; and we would, too.
Kay has borne five children, suffered miscarriage, and we walked together through the shadow of death. There have been times when each thought the other would pass -- and neither could conceive of life without the other. I haven't been to a barber since -- well, since all barbers were men. I do know which store sells groceries, but not what to buy that ain't junk food. I can cook some, but am not at all sure how long I'd survive on barbecue steak. In some magically way which I never cease to appreciate the laundry always is done, often long before I knew anything was dirty. There have been times when I thought she would be justified to kill me, and times when I've facetiously told the kids I would just kill myself and then kill her. Overall it has come to be true each cares more for the other than ourselves.
There is, despite what you hear, no way out of loving once you've committed to it. There are hills to climb and valleys to descend; wealth and poverty to experience; reward and loss to work though; we can both be distant to or feel abandoned by the other; either of us occasionally could fairly complain, "We never talk anymore." But the marriage commitment doesn't end; and your one-time, perhaps long-ago decision doesn't go away. I cling to the belief that in marriage there must be fruitful years and dry years, times of dependence and moments of indifference; times when we forget our commitment and times (like today) when it is all for which we have to live.
The phrase "soul-mate" was unknown to us in 1965. Not that it didn't exist, just that we didn't know what it was until after the fact. Take it from someone considered at the threshold of old age: when problems and distractions inevitably come, simply remember again the decisions and the commitments made. Remember also that two-way true love may seem nebulous now and again, but it will endure.
Happy Anniversary, Kay
I love you more than I know how to express,
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.