Mike and I returned Sunday from Boston, where we celebrated the wedding of my friend Theresa to her best friend Nil. We returned just in time for another celebration, today being the 47th wedding anniversary of my in-laws, pictured above on their wedding day in 1966. It's amazing to think of everything that's happened since the simple toast pictured above - three boys who grew into men, six grandkids, retirement, trips to Italy, winters in Del Ray Beach and all the small things that make up nearly five decades of a life together.
I think often about these moments, big and small, finding that, for me, motherhood has brought with it an unexpected yet fierce awareness of being a link in the Family chain, arms outstretched to connect those before me to those behind. I want my son to know that his father and his father's father both wore lily-of-the-valley in their own way on their wedding days. I want my daughter to know that there are four generations of women before her who share her middle name. And of course I hope that one day I'll be sitting in the front row of a wedding ceremony, clutching my "lucky wedding purse", the one I carried first to my own wedding and then to every wedding I've attended since without fail, watching my babies start their own adventure with someone who they love and who loves them back without fail.
If only life were simple enough that simply wishing all of the above would guarantee it came true. On days like today I have to remind myself that my love for my family, which is so real and alive to me that it has its own pulse, isn't a liability. That the attendant anxiety and vulnerability that accompany a day like yesterday, or a day like today six years ago in my home state of Virginia, only means that I'm lucky enough to be among the army of folks who guard family and love with the fiercest of mettle, for whom that which is greater than the risk of loving is the reward. Hold your babies tight. Call your mama. Tell your friends you love them like a sister. Make your partner laugh. And after you've done these things, say a prayer of hope and peace for someone you know for whom one of the aforementioned is no longer possible. Omnia vincit amor.