We were a new millennium marriage.
Engaged in the January and married on the 22nd of July, 2000.
Twenty years ago today.
In the lead up to our wedding day, one thing kept playing on my mind…
When we went to the cinema, Randall would wear glasses. To see the distance.
I started to worry that when I stepped from the vestibule of the beautiful old church where we were to marry, to walk the aisle to him, that without those glasses, Randall wouldn’t be able to see me. In a full church, his were the only eyes that mattered.
I asked him, “Randall, please, can you wear your glasses?” And he would always laugh and assure me that the glasses were not necessary, that he always felt a little foolish wearing them and that he would be able to see me just fine without the spectacles.
And so our wedding day came and as I headed to the church, my Great Uncle driving, my father by my side, both beaming, I was lost a little. This was the most significant decision I had ever made and whilst I knew I loved Randall, it all felt a little surreal. The dress, the fuss, the idea that in this church waited family and friends to bear witness to our promises. And all the unknowns of a life beyond the ceremony.
I felt oddly numb.
Then we were there, and I was stepping out of the car, being greeted at the door by the Presbyterian Minister who had so carefully prepared us for this ceremony.
As my dress was smoothed in the vestibule and positions taken, I looked through the glass panelled doors towards Randall, standing by the altar.
And there he was, wearing those glasses.
Not because he needed them to see but because I needed to be seen.
In that moment, all became crystal clear ... for me.
I exclaimed with the broadest of smiles and the fullest of hearts, “Oh, he really does love me and I really do love him! We can get married!”
With those words, the bemused Minister muttered, “I should hope so” and beat a quick path to take his place as the processional music began.
In the minutes that followed, as Randall and I stood holding hands, we gave ourselves to the promise of a future we could not truly conceive, having faith in the promise of the Bible verse we chose to be read before our vows:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Hope and a future.
We have lived that promise each year until we find ourselves here, celebrating twenty years of marriage.
We have tested all of those vows we made that day, stretching the promises we gave in the fresh glow of young love to their very limits - loving each other through tears and gritted teeth some days, soaking up the for better or raging at the for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, wondering if we could make it until death to part. We have forsaken all others in order to never forsake each other.
And through all of those years, the highs, the lows and the very ordinary, Randall has seen me - even when the mire of PTSD meant he couldn’t express that meaningfully, and even on the days when I couldn’t see myself.
He has loved me in spite of myself and because of myself.
As I too have loved him.
I believe in him. Randall is wiser, funnier and stronger than the man I married that day; a besotted father, a generous friend, a devoted lover.
He has an art for using few words to express far more, although it is true, he consistently ignores all allocated parking space lines and has an odd affinity for hi-vis and country work shirts that I never saw coming ...
I believe in the us that we have made. In our little family whom we are devoted to, and becoming the people who are worthy of the children we have been given.
So as this anniversary dawns and we find ourselves twenty years in, we are still holding tight to those promises: the hope and our future.
Always together. Seeing the distance.
Happy anniversary, Randall Lee.