Thursday, April 5, 2007

Ten Beautiful Years

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On a star-lit December evening in the season of my fair maidenhood, I attended my alma mater's yearly formal Christmas dinner celebration. I sat myself down at a table of good friends, right next to a rather handsome fellow classmate I hardly knew. Somehow the dinner conversation among our group turned to the subject of marriage and weddings, and I haphazardly commented that I knew exactly what I wanted my wedding gown to look like. I went on to dreamily describe its perfect beauty. My good friend Peter chuckled, questioning, "And who, exactly, do you plan to marry wearing such a dress?" I casually placed my hand on the shoulder of the dashing gentleman next to me, asserting with a smile, "I'm going to marry Patrick." Everyone burst out in friendly laughter at that moment, but an hour later I was courted by that very man on our first date. We married a little over two years later on April 5,1997.

As I reflect on these ten precious years I see only the good. Not because I remember the past with only fond memories, failing to bring to mind the particular difficulties and trials given us during those years. I recall the joys experienced and suffering endured in our marriage with equal clarity. The truth is, the present for me is always the best. I am happiest in the now. The past is a pleasant memory, the future full of hope, but joy is today.

In the first six years of marriage before our first baby, I was happy. I was grateful to enjoy such wonderful adventures with just the two of us, from our honeymoon in Italy, weekend getaways to the wine country, hiking in the mountains together and cuddling up at home with popcorn and a movie. I thanked God for every moment. Even suffering from childlessness, though hideous at its worst moments, was appreciated for its own benefit of growing closer to my spouse through a cross only met and nourished by love and the bond of a sacrament.

During the next four years Patrick and I would welcome two beautiful babies into our lives. Our love grew and multiplied in number and in degree. There were new trials, much smaller ones than childlessness, but perhaps even more important - the daily responsibilities of parenthood. There were no longer weekend getaways to the wine country, dinners out whenever we pleased or peaceful Sunday masses. But there was more love, and more happiness.

In my sometimes frivolous youth I had no idea the man I loved would bring me this kind of true joy. I was too inexperienced to know that through marriage I would watch my husband sacrifice himself for his children and for me, every day. I could not conceive what it meant for a spouse to embrace his role as a helpmate, until I saw over and over again the loads of laundry, the ironing, the picking up of toys, the washing of cars and the diaper changes that would be performed by a loving and generous husband. I had no conception of the patience and compassion I would become accustomed to witnessing during times I would complain of a difficult day, or display one or more of many vices he would bear calmly. And in my youth, no one could have explained the joy I would come to know so frequently when watching my husband cuddle with his girls while reading them a story, or kissing them before he leaves for work.

Today is Holy Thursday. What a treasure it is to celebrate a wedding anniversary on the day commemorating the moment Christ defined Love for His disciples, offering His own body and blood for them. I could not have planned it more perfectly. My husband and I will attend a beautifully chanted evening Mass of the Lord's Supper at St. Michael's with a procession to the Altar of Repose, just the two of us. We will no doubt recall the moment we received Our Lord's body and blood for the first time as a married couple. Silently, we will surely renew our vows before His body is reposed. And bearing the wisdom and experience gained over ten years of marital Love, we will fortify our union with today's ever-new, ever-present Commandment:

~~~~~~~~~" Love one another as I have loved you."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~(John 13:34)

20 comments:

Love2Learn Mom said...

Congratulations! How beautiful. :)

Ken Wills said...

Congratulations. It is a joy to see that the Lord has brought such bountiful gifts into your life. I thank the Lord every day for my wife and children as I'm sure you do. Congratulations again.

scmom said...

That is a beautiful story, Kristen, and the two of you look like royalty.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Congratulations, Kristen!

You both look stunning!

Enjoy your day!

Michelle Halpin said...

I'm whispering a happy prayer for you two today, Kristen! Congratulations to your on your tenth...Phil and I will be celebrating our tenth in August. You look so characteristically lovely in your wedding picture!

I remember when you told me that Pat had proposed...we were in the fishbowl, getting ready for a special events luncheon or dinner for someone, can't remember whom. Mrs. Donohue perhaps? Remember how particular she was about things...no ketchup bottles on the commons tables when she visited, and sorbet for her dessert b/c she didn't eat dairy? Funny what you remember. But I remember you sitting next to me in the fishbowl showing me your ring. You beamed with happiness, and I was so happy for you! Memories, memories...God bless you both!

Suzanne Temple said...

Happy Anniversary!!

Amy (Cabaniss) Kline said...

"The past is a pleasant memory, the future full of hope, but joy is today." Wise woman! This is a lesson I'm still learning.

Great story; it's always fun to learn how classmates got together. And what a beautiful picture. Happy anniversary, and God bless you both!

Cheryl M. said...

Happy, Happy Anniversary Kristen and Patrick!!!

E Caughron said...

Happy Anniversary to the two of you! I was just remembering your wedding the other day, but I had forgotten what the date was. God Bless you with many many more wonderful years.

Kristen Laurence said...

Thank you so much, everyone!

Anonymous said...

Kirsten, Congrats on 10 years. We are in our 10th year as well and will be celebrating our anniversary of our engagement on the 9th of April! I have been following your blog for the last few months, and want to let you know what a blessing your sharing has been for me.
Marcia
www.homeschoolblogger.com/iwonderwhy

Ouiz said...

Congratulations! I echo what scmom said... you do look like royalty!

Karen E. said...

Beautiful, Kristen! And happy anniversary!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

You. Are. Absolutely. Beautiful. Wow. What a smile.

(And the even more beautiful thing is, one could flip you inside out and you'd be just as lovely!)

If you know what I mean.

Belated Anniversary Blessings. I'll offer up the prayers I should have said on Holy Thursday at Easter Mass instead. Hope you don't mind! ;)

FloridaWife said...

Wow! He IS a handsome man! Beautfiul photo and accompanying story.

Cheryl said...

This is a beautiful post and I agree with the others who have said you both look stunning. Happy Anniversary.

Erika said...

Happy (belated) Anniversary, Kristen and Pat. You have been a most marvelous example. God bless you.

Alice said...

Another gorgeous reflection, Kristen!!! You are really something else!

Thank you for sharing the season of your fair Mommy-hood with us!!!

teresa said...

That is a great way to start a relationship -- knowing it will end in marriage! I am sure you do not want to idolized, but your stories are inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Jane Ramsey said...

Beautiful thoughts and beautifully written, dear Kristen. However, I would not recommend to any young women this method of finding a husband! ;-) Happy belated Anniversary!
Missed you much during my Lenten "retreat"!
Love,
Jane