Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NLT)
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“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories?” (George Eliot)
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August 30, 1968 dawned cloudy and muggy–unusual for any day in Albuquerque. But this was not just any day. It was my wedding day, one that I’d always dreamed of as being sunny, bright, and special in every way. Special I was sure I’d have, for I was marrying my best friend and the love of my life. Sunny and bright remained in question all day long. As time for the wedding drew near, I seemed to be the only one in my household getting ready. In frustration, I called Harold and told him I’d no doubt be hitch-hiking to the church. He laughed that special Harold laugh that was so much a part of the man I’d fallen in love with, and he promised that whenever I got there, he’d be waiting for me at the altar.
Waiting he was, and the wedding and reception went off without a single problem. We left to spend the night at an upscale place near the foothills that we’d decided to splurge on for that one night before we left for our lovingly planned week in the Colorado mountains.
The clouds finally won out and we were serenaded by thunder and lightning that rolled down those foothills. So instead of going back out, we decided on room service. Both of us had been too excited to eat much, but then we looked at the menu…and settled on splitting a hamburger, the only thing that came close to fitting into our limited travel budget. When it arrived, Harold served up our “sirloin under glass” with much flair and flourish. We laughed and feasted!
The next morning brought the sun and blue skies we’d been hoping for. We went out to the car, ready to head for Colorado–only to find that our clothes for the trip, left hanging on a rod in the back seat, were gone. Flabbergasted, we wondered if we could live a week with just the clothes on our back. An airman and a college student, we couldn’t afford to replace what had been taken. Then we saw it, a soggy note under the windshield wiper. Our “friends”, the same ones whose chase we thought we had eluded the night before, had managed to get in the car and remove our things. They were nice enough to leave us a note about what they’d done, and they did tell us where the clothes were; unfortunately, that part of the note had washed away in the downpour! We spent the next hour and a half calling around trying to locate which of our enterprising friends had our possessions. True to his nature, Harold laughed through it all and had me doing the same in no time. Our trip, complete with our clothes, was everything we had hoped for and dreamed of.
It was the perfect beginning of a marriage that spanned over four decades, not always ideal, not always easy, not always smooth–but ALWAYS full of love and laughter, faith and friendship.
August 30, 2012 has dawned sunny and hot. Today was to have been our 44th anniversary. We were going to be celebrating at our favorite hideaway in Ouray, Colorado. Instead I woke up alone. Just as I have for the past 3 months and 25 days. In my wildest dreams, I could never have envisioned this day turning out this way.
I have cried, I have screamed in anger and frustration, I have wallowed in the depths of sadness and despair, I have had days when the pain and loneliness have seemed unbearable, I have grieved deeply. I suspect there is more of the same to come.
For today, though, I choose to celebrate. Not with parties and gifts and crowds and dancing. No, this is a celebration of my heart and spirit, a celebration of thankfulness for the almost 43 years of love and laughter I had with my best friend. Thank you, Harold, for gifting me with those years. Your deep abiding love and your tremendous faith keep me going, and the memories of the good times and laughter buoy my spirits daily. The realization that together we weathered hard times and sad times gives me strength still.
All my love to you on our special day from your Susie…