Finally! Jay and I have hung in through good times and bad, in sickness and health, and at long last…we have worked our way up to a decent gift in those traditional anniversary gift guides. Today is our 15th wedding anniversary. It turns out that 15 years qualifies us for crystal. I don’t think we’ve ever received (or given) a single gift that conforms to the dictates of the traditional guide. But I like the symbolism of crystal. Plus, your “crystal anniversary” has a much nicer ring than paper (first anniversary), wool (seventh), tin (tenth), or leather (third)—though in retrospect, I could have had fun with that last one.
We’ve landed on our crystal year after a trying few weeks. We’re still recovering from my most recent sarcoidosis flare-up and sudden hospitalization, which came on the heels of an unexpected surgery. Jay’s been traveling a lot for work, and we’re all adjusting to Andrew’s return to school. Our lives don’t accommodate a romantic get-away. But, still, this day feels like an oasis. Jay took off from work, and with Andrew in school, we’ve been able to go to our favorite lunch place and now our favorite café to write together. We’re going to cook pad Thai for a celebratory family dinner. We’ll probably inflict our wedding photos on Andrew.
When we exchanged our vows 15 years ago, we promised to stay with each other, no matter what, that nothing could break us apart. We meant it, but we had no idea that sickness would show up a mere six years into our marriage, and that it would stay for so long. Nor could we have known how much joy was in our forecast—a healthy and wonderful son, world travel, owning a beautiful home, and finding work that fulfills us.
It seems fitting that you don’t earn crystal until you’re well into your marital journey—past the first days of easy love and the seven-year itch. Crystal is beautiful, but it’s also tough. You can still break it—shatter it against a wall or clumsily drop it by not being careful. But crystal is much more durable than paper or fabrics. It resists scratching. And it is beautiful.
What Jay and I have made together, in sickness and in health, is also beautiful—and tough. It’s not shatter-proof, but, then, very few things are. We know each other very well. We quite often start saying the same thing. “That’s creepy,” Andrew says, when we speak in unison. But I also think we maintain the capacity to surprise each other. I realized the other day that I still like my husband—very much. In some ways, I found this cooler than knowing that I still love him. He is the smartest, kindest, and hardest-working person in my life. I like his personality, his mind, his wit.
If the crystal of our anniversary came in the form of a crystal ball that allowed me to see the future of this marriage, I’m not sure I would take a peek, though I’d be tempted, of course. It’s not that I’m afraid of what’s coming. Virgil said that love conquers all, and while I wouldn’t go quite that far, love—at least mine with Jay—is damn powerful. I trust that we’ll be together, and in love. The reason I wouldn’t want to look is that I like the unfolding of each day with Jay. I want to be surprised by the places we’ll go, to quote another great poet.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the nine years I’ve been in Chronic Town, it’s that there are no guarantees—that we’ll get the amount of time we want, or to live out the plans we’ve made. I want to celebrate my silver, gold, and hell, even my platinum anniversary with Jay. That would be great. But every day with him is a gift. What I have right now is this day of happy memories and future possibilities, a day of crystalline clarity of what’s important. I love you, Jay. Happy Anniversary.
What’s crystal clear in your life right now?