Today is my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary.
My grandmother keeps a small album from my parent’s wedding on the coffee table in her living room. I remember pouring over these pictures as a child – my grandfather walking my mother down the aisle, my father looking at my mother like she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, the sincerity in my mother’s face as she said her vows, their newly ringed hands placed together.
It was a beautiful wedding. I adore the bridesmaid dresses, the white suit my father wore, the pictures of the cake, the church, the car as they left. As time has passed, I know they’ve changed. I’m sure the happy couple in those pictures would hardly recognize the people that my parents have become.
My parent’s marriage has taught me that this relationship isn’t about who you start out as. It’s about who you become together. Sometimes marriage is touching your partner’s toes while you’re granddaughter tells you a story. Sometimes it’s holding a brand new grand baby hours after they were born. And sometimes it’s coloring on the floor.
I find that sometimes, when you’re trying to figure out the words you want to say to commemorate an occasion, you find that someone else has already said it, so..From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” 14 “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are Real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse only smiled.
“Someone made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”