It has been eight years since I married the love of my life. When you write out a phrase like "the love of my life," eight years seems very short still. Tack "of my life" at the end of something, and one is reminded of how vast our lifespan has potential to be and therefore gives great weight to whatever thing is marking that lifespan.
Still, he is the love of my life.
I'm sure you have a sound enough understanding of life and love to know that when I say he's the love of my life, I still have spent a fair share of days decidedly less sappy than the sentiment suggests. In the full tapestry of a life, eight years is not a lot; but it is a big enough chunk of time for quite a lot to happen. (And a lot has happened.)
That is the point of love. It isn't about how you are feeling, so much as how you are choosing. It's like when Pinterest tells you that choose your happiness. It's the same trick in love: You choose it. Sometimes you are choosing to love, sometimes you are choosing to be loved. And then you honor that you both are making those same choices, day in and day out, even on the days when you or the other is less than lovable.
Every year, Trevor and I give traditional anniversary gifts. Year eight is the year of bronze, and I, along with all the antique dealers on South Broadway, was hard-pressed to really define what bronze was or is used for. In most cases, bronze is art--a decorative statue, an elaborate sconce on the wall of a restored Victorian. It's not very useful, it's just there to be pretty. The irony here is, of course, this is how we depict love, if you really think about it. I tell you Trevor is the love of my life, and you assume that we have some goopy crushes on each other, decorating each others' lives with sentimentality and romantic pictures.
I searched several websites for companies that promised they could bronze any memento--like bronze baby shoes for your relationship. What a silly practice, casting items into metal, and for what? More decor? But as I scrolled through the shiny baby shoes; a police officer's hat, bronzed next to a medal of honor; sports awards from glory days; I realized that the silly practice was a memorial. It was a choice to remember, to honor, to love, to celebrate. To make tangible the heavy decision of love.
There are a lot of silly practices we humans participate in, in the name of importance or value. Yours look different from mine. Maybe giving traditional gifts is a silly thing. But whatever the means, we make little memorials. We mark the journey that we are on, we honor the steps we took to get there. We choose to go another step further, defining ourselves with the momentous milestones already behind us.
In terms of life, this year has been such a crazy one for the Noel family. But I will build a shrine to it anyway. I will honor all of the surprises that have come our way, and I will memorialize the most important thing of all: That every step of the way, even on the days when I have been unlovable, the love of my life has been choosing me, has been choosing to do this life with me.
If I could cast the year in bronze, I would. I love you, Trevor. I still choose you.
See all of our wedding photos at Lauren Stocker Photography.