Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Case of Extreme Trouble, or Death

I've written, before, about Jim's and my wedding, but I've never written about our wedding night. We had only the one night before we needed to head back to Virginia; Jim had been transferred from Charlotte, North Carolina and was getting ready to start a new job with AT&T, and I was smack-dab in the middle of teaching six English classes at ITT-Richmond.

We took a proper honeymoon to the Virgin Islands, that September, but the night we married in my parents' front yard, we holed up in a tiny cabin from the 1860's.

Immediately upon carrying our belongings inside, we sat down on opposite ends of the sofa and wrote one another a letter. We wanted to capture exactly how we felt in that moment for the moment in which we'd be parted.

I don't know that we've ever told anyone, before: maybe because this letter-writing felt like such a private and sacred act. I can still see Jim, pen in hand, scratching out words on lined, yellow paper. I watched him write for a long time; he wrote much longer and more than I. He wrote and wrote and just kept writing. I wondered impatiently if he'd ever finish, and finally he did. He sealed his fat letter in an envelope, just as I had sealed mine.

Maybe we haven't shared because we know others might think our letter-writing strange, or even morbid. Truth be told, we were two people who'd fallen in love in 1994 only to go our separate ways for 13 years. We'd each failed others since failing one another. Additionally, we'd lost loved ones to death. It happens. Every relationship includes a parting.

Our hope is that one of us won't read the letters, at all: that--after a parting by death--the surviving spouse will read. But we've agreed: should we ever reach the point of separation, we will read, first, the letters.

And, for now, our letters remain sealed, just like our transgressions. My Jim sleeps beside me as I type this, and--in just a moment--I, too, will sleep, dreaming while clinging to the body of my beloved.

Sharing with Jennifer Dukes Lee and friends from The High Calling.

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