A Photograph of me without me in it

A Photograph of me without me in it
A photograph of me without me in it

Monday, September 3, 2018

Looking Back

Mom and Dad sent Ann and me a card with blue sparkles and doves for the ninth anniversary of our commitment ceremony. Outside, it reads, “Happy Day, Happy Couple, Happy family who loves you.” Ann and I began our celebration with this card before looking at photo books of the week-end.

Family and friends, some of whom flew to Seattle and others drove or walked to the church, for what was in some ways a traditional ceremony. Unfortunately, Ann’s mom was not well enough to come from Texas. We missed her, though both of us felt confident in her love.

Friday night, we rehearsed the ceremony in the sanctuary. Dinner at Tutta Bella, a tasty pizza restaurant, followed Friday night’s rehearsal. I recall much of that night: Stephen’s scotch gift (MacCallum’s—yum), Alex’s giggly toast, the phenomenal amount of tiramisu our nephew Jack ate. A favorite memory is of our niece Lucie.

Throughout the dinner, Lucie asked repeatedly, “Auntie Mary, who ARE all these people?” Each time, the question was more emphatic, and she'd wave her hands even more dramatically than the previous time. 

I finally responded in a way that satisfied her: “They're our friends.” 

She seemed dismayed: “You mean they're all here for you?” 

I was thankful that she and all our nieces and nephews saw that gay couples, like straight couples, could have a community of support. 

Out of town friends and family joined us for breakfast and a pool party at Katie, Diana, and Bailey’s home Saturday morning. It was chilly, so the kids swam while we adults ate.

Saturday at 5 pm, Ann and I went to the church. We were both dressier than usual, in slacks and tops. I’d even brushed my hair for the occasion. Our nephews, dressed in colorful khaki slacks, escorted guests to the pews. We walked down the aisle as our friends Marilyn and Sara played with their quartet. 

My brother's youngest kids, Lucie and Gretchen, carried flowers from Pike Place Market down the aisle, and our older niece Isabella read from First Corinthians: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres….And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Our friend Cheli, Ann’s student decades ago, read a poem called “The Eagle,” which I remember but cannot find.

Our friend Pam played and sang Sara Hickman’s song “Simply.” After the ceremony, Dad said, “You told me Pam sang, but I didn’t know she could sing.” Yeah. She was awesome.

Our minister conducted the ceremony and gave a talk about love. Ann and I exchanged wooden rings and vows we wrote ourselves. The minister directed our community to support our relationship. Ann and I kissed. People took a lot of photos, and we all went to a reception to eat and dance. Ann and I exchanged chocolate bites of a fancy cake, four alternating tiers of chocolate and carrot cake. 

In some ways, our wedding was traditional. In other ways, it wasn’t. No father walked us down the aisle to give anyone away. There were neither bridesmaids nor grooms. The minister did not invite anyone to speak up if they disapproved. We were both women.

This was a night we celebrated so many gifts that Ann and I are grateful for: one another, our families and friends, our faith and community. 

Our siblings toasted our love, and Little Brother Matt and Ann’s brother Gene both get choked up during their toasts. They hugged, one of my favorite moments of the night.

We all watched a slide show I'd put together to Tom T. Hall's song, "I Love." Bless Rod Margason, who helped me with the show and probably hears, "I love little baby ducks..." as the soundtrack to his nightmares. 

Ann and I danced the first dance to Exile’s “She’s a Miracle.” Everyone watched as we swung in slow motion. Ann held me tight, and the music played: 

She’s a miracle, a sight to see.
Ohhhh, the way she touches me!
Way down deep, in my soul,
Something’s got ahold, and it won’t let goooh.
If I stumble, if I fall,
She’s waiting right there to catch me.
Ohh, she’s a miracle, a miracle to me!

We had practiced for hours in our kitchen, so I didn’t stumble and I didn’t fall. We danced amid reminders of our Northwest home: totems, a carved canoe, a sunset over the sound. We danced amid reminders of how much we were loved and how much we loved one another.

A lot’s changed in the nine years since our ceremony. I had a second brain tumor; Ann retired from teaching; I had to leave teaching and other jobs in high schools because of my disabilities; I started my own writing, like this blog; we had a state-sanctioned marriage; we’ve lost some friends and family to deaths; we adopted our puppy Dosey. The list goes on. 

Some things haven’t changed. We live in the same home and attend the same church. Many friends and family from nine years ago are still in our lives. We still attend Seattle Storm games, though we have better seats now. We still love one another and feel grateful for each moment we’re together.

We're still living this miracle.