My husband and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago, and by our definition, it was the perfect party. We took ourselves, our loyal mutt, and our boat up to the lake. The goal? To enjoy each other and this special occasion. The weather was beautiful, the water warm, and the lake practically deserted. Simple, healthy food filled us up. Conversation was lively, while the silences were perfectly comfortable.
We’ve always kept our wedding anniversary simple. We make time for the two of us, perhaps share a special dinner, and always take a lovely walk down memory lane. We reminisce about the year gone by, the highlights as well as the challenges. Mostly, we laugh.
And, loving, disgustingly sentimental parents that we are, we indulge in unabashed praise of our children, since every anniversary offers us a different child-rearing perspective.
This year’s anniversary celebration was no different. There was plenty to appreciate. I’ve had the publication of my first novel. My husband is building yet another boat! And our kids? They’ve all grown up to be adults we hoped to give the planet! To the letter – bear with me – they are compassionate, generous, hard working, loyal, educated, and entirely self-sufficient. They each make significant contributions to their communities, believing in the value of giving back to society. We could not be any more proud of how they turned out.
Throughout this past year, we anticipated a family highlight, the marriage of our first born to a very special man, her wonderful partner of eight years. It was a joyous week as we gathered to sew, arrange, haul, decorate, bake, and then witness what promises to be a very solid union!
Their marriage represents what I believe most parents dream of for their offspring; the love, maturity and resolve to make the ultimate commitment to another living soul. It is a commitment that comes with unlimited significance and meaning, endless responsibilities, necessary rights and privileges.
What we didn’t know on our daughter’s wedding day was that the next life altering highlight for our entire family was just around the corner.
One morning, twenty-five days after our daughter’s wedding and six days before our anniversary, my husband and I sat on our couch. Leaning into one another, we were full of anticipation for what was about to happen. Honestly, we were downright antsy. The television was turned to CNN. We were both surprisingly quiet, though I know our hearts were pounding loudly as we waited for an answer to a question that had haunted us for many years: would two of our dear children continue to be denied the same rights and privileges their big sister and her new husband now appreciated?
I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to have your wonderful, beautiful, accomplished children treated like second class citizens, to be openly and actively judged and discriminated against simply because of whom they love. It’s even more frustrating when, based on my experience as a parent and as a mental health professional, it’s quite obvious to me that no one chooses this path. Really now – why would anyone choose a way in the world, in which discrimination, malice, fear, judgment, bodily harm, even death can be part of your experience?
Finally the news broke. My husband and I were absolutely overwhelmed when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and refused to rule on California’s Prop 8! We cried, as relief flooded us with unbridled joy. It was a monumental moment for us, our children, our family, our friends, our country! I couldn’t help but think of the all of the parents across the nation who were feeling just like we were. Really now, isn’t fair and equal treatment what all parents want for their children?
Beyond the parents who adore their children, I also considered the countless people these decisions would directly impact by affording them the same civil rights the rest of us consider our birthright. I couldn’t stop smiling!
And while I wish the waiting was entirely over, I am finally optimistic that one day all loving couples will have the joy of a wedding anniversary and be able to take their own walks down memory lane!
How could I ever deny them what my husband and I treasure?