Yesterday we celebrated 39 years of marriage... Family came over. They showered us with flowers and cards. We ate Tri-tip and BBQ Chicken. Gary stayed in bed until everyone arrived at 5:00, so he'd be well rested for the evening and hopefully connect to the goings-on. On the special days...it's easy to give in to pity parties, wishing things were different, but making a new memory is great medicine for me on Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas. One thing I've learned over the last 7 years is that it is really important for ME to celebrate things REGARDLESS of Gary's ability to respond. If he IS taking in his surroundings, then that's even better.
So, we had a party. Gary opened his eyes once or twice during dinner while he munched his Steak, and Garlic Potatoes, but for the most part, he remained non-communicative. Right after dinner we settled in by the TV so I could show everyone Gary's present from me. I made him a DVD with the audio of our wedding with photos. During the hours I spent putting together the video, editing the photos, and listening to the ceremony, I was surprised by the effect it had on me. I was so happy, listening to Gary repeating his vows. I miss hearing his voice now. I cried as I listened to the challenges laid out by our Pastor, to love unselfishly no matter what. I am faced with that choice every day. My heart was flooded with gratefulness for 39 years. Gary gave a gift to me last night too. Toward the end of the video, he opened his eyes and watched for a few minutes, and even made some sounds, trying to speak.
Pastor Travaille prayed this poem for us. God has truly answered this prayer for Gary and I.
Oh Perfect Love
All human thought transcending
Lowly we bow in prayer before Thy throne
That theirs may be a love that knows no ending
Whom Thou forevermore doest join in one.
O Perfect Life
Be Thou their full assurance
Of tender charity and steadfast faith
Of quiet hope and gentle, brave endurance
With childlike trust that fears not pain nor death.
Grant them the joy that brightens earthly sorrow.
Grant them the peace that calms all earthly strife.
And may they ever know a faith in Christ as Savior
That dawns upon eternal love and life.
Through Jesus Christ our LORD
Lots of people ask me "How do you do it?" "How do you stay joyful?" Let me say that there's nothing special about Gary and I. We made a promise to God, in 1974 in front of each other. We prayed for God's strength and blessing, and we meant it. We didn't know that I would get cancer, and then that Gary would get Alzheimer's, but we knew that no matter what, God would expect us to keep our vows. And you know what? He's the one that has made it happen. Gary and I are just sinners, saved by God's grace. My joy is not natural. It's from Jesus' love for me, and the fact that we are just passing through this life. Our marriage was grounded in that love. I posted the wedding DVD I made for Gary if you want to watch the photos and listen to the ceremony. Hopefully it will encourage you. The music sound is distorted, but you can hear Pastor T, and us just fine. It's 28 minutes long. At the end is a doodle type note Gary wrote me just for fun.