Much thought went into where we should go for dinner to celebrate our 8th anniversary but we quickly realized that nothing could match the satisfaction of a home cooked curry dinner (House brand’s Java curry #6, with extra cayenne pepper, for the adults, and Kokumaro #1 for the kids) topped with shredded Gouda cheese. Instead of buying a pricey cake, dessert is something assembled from supermarket Swiss roll, a bag of assorted frozen berries and a can of whipped cream (the brand’s Rebel, I kid you not). It was delicious and best of all, we had a lot of leftover berries (hello rhubarb crumble) and whipped cream.
“Let’s write our vows and read them after dinner later,” my husband suggested that morning. I spent a large part of the day cooking for 45 people (with the help of two other moms) at my daughter’s gakudo, the after school program for working parents. Summer is the busiest time for the gakudo and parents have to take turns cooking a fresh lunch for the kids. After washing and drying some 90 something dishes and spending some time playing with my daughter who wanted to show me the gakudo’s toys, I went to the supermarket to get ingredients for dinner. After shopping, it was time to pick up both kids and head home to prepare dinner. In the midst of all this busyness, I barely had time to scribble a few notes for my vows.
To my dearest friend, lover, partner,
Every now and then, I see photos of my younger self from 8, 9, maybe more years ago, then I look at my present older self in the mirror. How I have changed inside and out. The lines on my face tell the story of how I have been broken and repaired, stretched and expanded, and become wiser, stronger, bolder and wilder. I love the me that I’m becoming, and a lot of this is thanks to you and the life we have together.
Thank you for turning towards me even when difficult. You are the person I want to share my thoughts, big and small, with.
I love raising our kids together. I love seeing you in them. With you by my side, I am the best person I can be. When you’re there, I’m happy. Today, as we renew our vows, I promise to be present to you and be there with you, in good times and bad.
This is where I was when my husband came home. It was time to set the table. I was not perfectly happy with what I have written but there was no time to write more or to edit. The state of my vows reflects the busyness of life 8 years into marriage, or so was my excuse.
After dinner, my husband lit a candle and played the same songs we walked down the aisle to. First I read my half finished vows and choked with tears midway. They’re half finished but fully meant. Next my husband read his.
You’re not the woman I married twice in 2009. And for that I’m grateful. I hope I’m not the same man either.
As we move forward together in life, I hope to continually change for the better.
It’s not our role or place to be perfect for each other, so I will not pledge that.
But as we close the chapter on 8 years, I will leave petty grievances and annoyances there… because I will find new ones in year 9. With that said, let’s look forward.
I commit to stay when I feel like walkng away. And if I walk, I’ll tell you I’m coming back.
I commit to be responsible for my feelings and own up when I don’t.
I commit to remember the big picture, the long-run, rather than dwell in short-term setbacks or disappointments.
I commit to turn towards you in whatever small way I can.
I commit to be human. To annoy you, disappoint you, and vex you. But as a human I will want to connect with you and hear the most glorious music… your laughter.
Above all, I commit to respect you.
You’re a good partner. We’re not always perfect for each other but we’re enough for each other.
And after this long long life, I still hope that your face is the last I see before I slip into the eternity of your memory.
He made me laugh and cry, which is pretty much what he does to me the rest of the year.
We kissed. Our daughter declared, “This is my favorite part.” Our son ran off to the next room, squealing and covering his eyes. Then they both fought about who gets to blow out the candle.
“We’re not gift people are we?” my husband reflected. It didn’t even occur to me to get him a gift. “I’d rather have this,” I said.
I’d rather have this.