Posted by: Kate | October 12, 2010

Promise

We gathered together on a chilly but beautiful Saturday afternoon, just before sunset. The temperature could have been a few extra degrees higher, and the baby had an instant and prolonged overwhelmed reaction to the group of people trying to touch him and talk to him, so he cried the whole time. But rather than take away from the event, these details just rounded the circumstances out a little: the cold led us to stand closer together and made it just a little more memorable, and the baby reminded us all that life is not all smooth and perfect, but even when there are unforeseen additions we can still create a truly memorable experience.

It was a short ceremony, only about 11 minutes overall, but it was just perfect. It was beautiful, and from the heart, and it will stay with me as one of the most precious days of my life. There were two readings, both chosen because they encapsulated something about our marriage in a way we couldn’t quite manage in prose, and a song that meant a lot due to its lyrics and to the fact that it was sung so achingly wonderfully by a dear friend (not to mention, it had been sung at our wedding ten years ago, by my middle sister, and it was beautiful then, too). The older children had written vows, because this was a family event, and we decided that Isaac was just singing along… a little unhappily, maybe, but he wanted to take part, too.

And then Willem and I traded our vows: just words, just simple strings of phrases and ideas. But so special, and deep, and true, and all the more important because they were expressed in a joyful celebration of our lives and marriage, instead of appearing as part of a eulogy.

It was beautiful, from start to finish, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it… maybe to have a few more people, those who hadn’t been able to attend due to geography or prior commitments, but as it was we had a group of 20, and that felt like the perfect size. The simple memory of it makes me smile. And now we can start thinking about what to do for our 20th anniversary…


 

Tenth Anniversary Ceremony

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On Marriage
Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

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Love
Roy Croft
I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.

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One Hand, One Heart
Leonard Bernstein
Make of our hands, one hand,
Make of our hearts, one heart.
Make of our vows, one last vow;
Only death will part us now.

Make of our lives, one life.
Day after day, one life.
Now it begins, Now we start;
One hand, one heart.
Even death won’t part us now.

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Emily’s Vows
I’m happy to be a family because we go a lot of places, and because Mom and Dad try really hard to jam-pack our summers with lots of fun things. I like to be a family because Mom does lots of fun crafts, especially Halloween costumes. Dad takes me to cool things like Lazer Craze and a Patriots game (Go Pats!). But I like it most of all because we all really love each other and try to make each other happy.

I promise to not argue with Mom and Dad… most of the time. I promise to take care of my brothers. I promise to give Mom breakfast in bed whenever she has a cold or gets sick, and to try to eat every chicken and pea on my plate (ha, ha). I will try ever so hard NOT to bicker with my siblings, or sell them to the Indians, or duct tape them to the wall.

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Jacob’s Vows
I like the family because I like the baby. I do crafts. I like it because it is fun.

I promise to be respectful, and to give lots of hugs and kisses. I promise to travel. I promise to work hard in school. I promise to love my family.

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Willem’s Vows
Over sixteen years ago, I met a girl who caught my eye and captured my imagination. It took me a while to work up the courage to talk to her, and even longer to figure out that I might have actually caught her eye as well. Ten years ago, I pledged my life to her, and while these years have not always been easy or predictable, they have reaffirmed that we were indeed meant for each other. I am so happy to be standing here at the edge of the Earth, amongst our friends and family, looking into her eyes right now.

Kate, I have told you many times over the years that you make me a better person, and I truly believe this. Your influence has molded me into a compassionate parent and a devoted husband. Together, we have created a family that rivals any in terms of laughter and adventure, caring and friendship. What we have is simply extraordinary.

Since the day you came into my life, I have come dangerously close to losing you twice: once through my own thoughtlessness, and once to the random hand of fate. I will not allow these near-misses to define what we have or who you are, and I will not stand by quietly and wait for the third strike to come. I want to grow old with you by my side – watch our children blossom into adulthood – and live the life of our dreams.

On the occasion of our tenth anniversary, I pledge these vows to you:

I promise to remain faithful to you forever.

I promise to always protect and support you to the best of my abilities.

I promise to provide for our family and share equally that which I have to offer.

I promise to listen.

I promise to love and guide our three wonderful children.

I promise to celebrate our triumphs, and to take on all of life’s experiences as your partner, your friend, your husband.

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Kate’s Vows
It was dark, and silent, and I was alone. When I finally woke up, I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know why I hurt. Just opening my eyes took so much effort, and I didn’t know what I would see once I succeeded.

Willem, I saw you. I watched you walk into the room, and you had that smile. It was a little wobbly, and I knew you were scared and worried, but you were still able to smile. And then I knew it was going to be all right. I knew that, whatever had happened, we could get through this, because you could still smile. You came to me and touched my face, and I knew we were going to work through this together, because you were still there for me. You sat down and held my hand, and I knew we could build a happily-ever-after, somehow, because you had the patience to sit and hold me and carry me when I couldn’t carry myself.

We’ve made it through ten years, and they’ve been such a wild ride. From babies to health scares, houses to jobs, we’ve weathered so many things. This year alone has given us enough adventures to last a decade, but before I got sick we had so many fun experiences together. I get scared, sometimes, when I think about the next week, much less the next ten years, but I know I can get through it because I’ll have you by my side. We’ll have new adventures, new fun, together.

I promise to keep trying, every day, to smile and accept myself as good enough. I promise to hold you whenever you need it – and, sometimes harder, to hold you whenever I need it. I promise to be the best mother I can be, because we have three amazing children and they deserve everything we can give them. I promise to find reasons to be proud of myself, because when I’m happy I know it makes your life easier. I promise to finish knitting your socks sometime before our 20th anniversary, and to knit whatever else I think I can get you to wear after that. I promise to love you a little more all the time, because you have become such a strong, smart, empathic, special man, and I fully realize how lucky I am, or maybe how smart I was, to have made the right choice.

I promise to try to be the woman you see, not the one that I feared I would become.

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Responses

  1. This, and you, and your family, are simply amazing.

    Here’s to another 10, 20, 30 . . .

  2. I don’t tear up at much, but… Everyone’s vows are beautiful. Its so awesome to see two people so in love when lots couples can’t make it 10 years. Here’s to 10 more happy years and beyond to grow old together.

  3. Touching and beautiful, just as you and your family are. Here’s to many many more.

  4. That was beautiful, thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  5. Congratulations! I am sorry I couldn’t be there in person, but I surely was in spirit. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness…a little less dramatic than this past year would be ideal!

  6. What a wonderful way to celebrate. Congratulations and may you have many, many more years together.

  7. So sorry to have missed it but so pleased for the re-cap here. I love that Roy Croft poem- we used it at our wedding.
    Love you guys!!! xox

  8. Way to go! Many more happy years to you.

  9. Awwww…. that was beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Hoping the next 10 years will be far less stressful.

  10. That was so beautiful and meaningful, and a wonderful celebration of love.

  11. lovely

  12. So beautiful!

  13. Aww look at you with your short hair. Haven’t been over for ages. Congratulations, looks like a lovely event and so sweet on the beach and barefoot. You have a lovely family.

  14. Beautiful!! And here’s to another 10…or 20….or 30 years together! ❤

  15. What a beautiful, heartfelt ceremony!! (You look amazing, BTW.) I loved the kids’ vows most of all … there’s something so special about the way you included them. Happy anniversary, and here’s to a long, happy life together.


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