Vows aren’t forgotten when they’re lived out, every day

Posted 6/30/21

I asked my wife a question this week, then held my breath.

“Do you remember our wedding vows?” I wondered.

The query wasn’t made facetiously. 

Me? I don’t …

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Vows aren’t forgotten when they’re lived out, every day

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I asked my wife a question this week, then held my breath.

“Do you remember our wedding vows?” I wondered.

The query wasn’t made facetiously. 

Me? I don’t remember the vows — not word for word, anyway — we said to each other 31 years ago this week. So when Lee Ann said she didn’t remember them either, I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief.

Let me explain.

When we started planning our wedding, we decided to write our own vows for the ceremony. It wasn’t whimsy or capriciousness; we simply wanted to make the day our own. We worked on those vows for weeks, diving into the process with all the seriousness the occasion deserved. I vividly remember the beginning — “Lee Ann, I love you,” because it starts with love, right? — and the ending, which was two verses from Proverbs 24: “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

And of course I remember the sentiment, which was: commitment and devotion.

But the words in between?

They’re lost in the fog of memory for me, though not really forgotten.

And to me, it doesn’t matter that my wife can’t recall the specific words of the vows. She lives them all day, every day, without fail.

I found myself reflecting on this as Lee Ann recovers from foot surgery performed a week ago. That recuperation — and the severely limited mobility she’s suffered for the last few days — has had to me doing a little more cooking and a lot more cleaning than normal, in addition to partaking in one of my favorite things about being married: waiting on her, hand and (for the time being, bandaged) foot, in the most literal sense you could imagine. For me, it’s been the act that the words “labor of love” were joyously created for.

Our wedding vows didn’t include the phrase “for better or for worse.” We knew that would come with the package. And I recognize this surgery, in the scheme of things, doesn’t fall within a mile of qualifying as a “for worse” season in our lives. For a couple who has spent more than three decades together, it’s just another blip, another thing, another of life’s hiccups that, if nothing else, gives us an opportunity: first, to lean on each other, and second, for me, as her husband, to lean hard into the purpose of those few sentences we memorized (and, I might add, recited flawlessly) on June 30, 1990.

In a box somewhere in our craft room upstairs, there’s a VHS tape of our wedding ceremony. We haven’t watched it since showing it to our children when they were young. I’m not even sure if we even own a VHS player now, but as the seasons have passed we’ve spoken often of how much we vividly recall — vows notwithstanding — about that incredible day. It hasn’t been flawless, but it has been beautiful.

By the time you read this, we will have passed the occasion relishing not just the memories of those 11,320-some already gone days, but in the pleasure of the present moment, another in a glorious series of “todays” on which we’ve built our lives together. 

And perhaps most of all, looking forward to tomorrow. A wonderful thing 31 years together has taught us, thankfully, is that it just keeps getting better.

Bill Horner III can be reached at bhorner3@chathamnr.com or @billthethird.


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