Twenty-eight years. That’s the amount of time that has passed
since I first laid eyes on Rachel. Twenty-five years today since we promised
to spend the rest of our lives together. We have weathered rich times and
poor times; times of laughter and of tears; times we were the picture of
health and times we were laid low with illness. Through it all our love
survived and grew.
I look across the table at Rachel, as beautiful now as she ever
was. More beautiful in fact. Her eyes meet mine and I smile. Green with
sparkling specks of gold dance with laughter.
Our friends gather around as we cut the cake honoring our time
together. My hands over hers on the knife handle as the blade slides easily
through the cake. Flashes of light as cameras capture the moment forever. I
kiss my bride of twenty-five years, her lips full and succulent. Applause
from the on-lookers.
Earlier we stood before the altar, hands clasped tight as the
reverend blessed us and the union we share. We stood in the same spot, in
front of many of the same friends, with a different minister, those many
years before. We exchanged simple bands of gold on that long ago day; bands
that still adorn our hands, signifying to all our endless love.
I don’t want you to think all has been perfect over the course
of these years. Life is never perfect, even when you share it with your soul
mate. Challenges have tried us, sometimes pulling us in opposite directions.
We have stood toe to toe, eyes flashing with anger, disagreement on our
lips. Tears have flowed as we’ve worked through our pain.
Rachel and I are survivors. We have survived the three, the
seven, and the ten year itch; the rumored and much dreaded “lesbian
bed-death”; and the interference of friends and family. We suffered together
through the rejection of my family and rejoiced together in the acceptance
and love of hers.
Our love has endured the grief of lost jobs, lost friends, the
death of dearly loved pets and a much-loved parent. It has endured the
changes we have gone through with the passing years. Eyes weaken, hearing
and memory begin to fail, hair loses its shine and gains in gray, skin is
less smooth, wrinkled with laugh lines and crow’s feet. But none of it
matters. Our love doesn’t judge; it only cares.
Our relationship is considered “non-traditional” by society as a
whole. In some people’s eyes, we belong to a separate community, different
and apart from the mainstream population.
But Rachel and I don’t look at what we have through the eyes of
others. We’re no different from the couple living next door or the family in
the house behind us. Our love, our dedication is as valid, as real as theirs
Saturday nights we go dancing at a club that still plays the
music we like to dance to. It’s been around for a long time, the dance floor
worn smooth by years of feet two-stepping and gliding round and round. Our
friends congregate there, a group of women and men we’ve known for years.
We share a history of struggles and victories. But Rachel and I cringe as we
watch so many of them play the game of musical partners. We are one of few
couples who have stayed together for more than a few months or a few years.
We wish and pray each of them can find what Rachel and I have with each
Twenty-five years. The time has flown by. Once again, for the
thousandth time today, I count my blessings. Rachel is at my side, laughing
at something one of our friends said. Her laughter rings in my ears, a
melody I love to hear. I reach for her hand and am rewarded with her
beautiful smile and a kiss on the cheek. Her beauty takes my breath away.
“Thank you,” I whisper to the universe. “Thank you.”