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."