There was a period of time where it felt like every weekend was spent at a wedding. Lots of choosing between chicken or beef. Dancing to “At Last” and “Party in the USA.” Open bars and plenty of great cake.
These days, the heels and glittering clutches have been tucked away and traded for Uggs and diaper bags. And, the only thing I have danced to recently is “The Greatest Showman” in the kitchen during breakfast.
So, after a few years off the wedding circuit, it was kind of a novelty to go to a wedding of one of Adam’s fraternity brothers a couple weeks ago.
Adam was a groomsman and we enlisted the help of his parents to take the kids overnight. Something we had not done before.
We both were drunk on the prospect of sleeping past 8:00 AM the morning after.
At the ceremony, I sat with the other groomsmen’s wives in the front few pews. I smiled as I watched Adam, like I had many times before, walk a bridesmaid down the aisle. He shook the hand of the groom and he stepped aside.
The familiar ritual of the ceremony began. The same words I had heard so many times at many ceremonies.
To have and to hold… To Cherish… A strand of three cords… I nodded along.
At the giving of the rings, the minister asked them to look down at the new bands on their hand. He told them that every time they look at these rings to be reminded of this day. To remember the love they had for each other on this beautiful day.
He talked about how as years pass married couples can lose the “spark” and how they need to remember the love they felt today.
I looked at my own left hand and fiddled with the three rings on my finger. On top is my engagement ring. Simple and stunning. Given to me on a Friday night when cooking steaks and drinking red wine at Adam’s home.
Then, the ring Adam gave me the day I became a mom. More details in this band of both circle and square diamonds.
And, on the bottom, my wedding band. An infinity band of small square stones framed in white gold. A mix of soft and strong.
Holding my fingers and running my right thumb over the three of them, I thought about our wedding.
It was a great day.
I remembered how one of my friends wrote to me after the weekend and told me that she felt my happiness as I walked down the aisle to Adam. She said it seemed like I was skipping towards him.
Other guests would recall that same moment, but they were not looking at me; instead, they were looking at Adam’s giant smile. But, of course, I knew about that. It’s all I could look at too.
I remembered our kiss… bigger than I had wanted for a ceremony. But, we weren’t thinking clearly when Father Steven finally said we could and we couldn’t help it.
I remembered closing the door to the car that drove us away from the party at the end of the night. After our friends and family had lined the patio of the country club sending us off. In that car, we looked at each other in disbelief. “Wow!” was all we both could manage to describe the night and all our feelings.
I looked up at Adam on the alter now. Handsome, but older. Baby face gone. More years in his eyes.
I looked back at the rings and thought of the love I felt for him that day. It was a sweet love, filling me with butterflies and possibility. It was a love that was full of the belief in forever.
It was nothing like what I felt now.
Not even close.
Seven and a half years later, we were so far from that love.
I looked at Adam and thought, “And, I don’t want that love back.”
That love was sweet, yes. But, it wasn’t as sweet as sweetness can be after something bitter. A moment where we hurt each other. Maybe not intentionally, but it still hurt just the same. Only to find each other again and choose love over hurt, anger and keeping score.
That love gave me butterflies when he picked me up for a date night, but not nearly as many butterflies as when our children would excitedly reach for him on the most routine Tuesday after a busy day of work.
That love was full of possibility, but had not spent hours late in the night dreaming together. Spent saying we would do things that to some may seem impossible and building a business that would be ours.
That love had a belief in forever, but had not yet seen that forever can be ripped away from anyone in the blink of an eye. This love knows more. Has seen more. And, knows every day is a gift.
This love is so different. It’s less intense in the sense of grand gestures, presents, and spending hours in bed. It’s less spontaneous and impulsive.
Instead, it’s a conscientious choice everyday.
Instead of jumping into each other’s arms, it’s more hand holding. It’s softer.
But, still, it’s deeper. Stronger. It is so much better than that love on our wedding day.
I finally caught up with Adam at the end of cocktail hour. The wedding party had been off taking photos, so once they were all announced he headed straight towards me. He gave me a kiss and told me I looked great.
Still with his arm on my waist, I told him that I thought the idea of looking at your rings and remembering your feelings on your wedding day was bad advice. And, I also told him that I didn’t want that love back.
He paused for a second, having to place the thought and really hear it- without focusing on locking his knees.
He kissed me.
“Me either. Not at all,” he said.
And, grinned that same giant grin I saw at the end of the aisle seven years ago.