If only creating a happy blended family were as simple as throwing us all in a blender and pressing “whip.” Instead, it is something more like the art of keeping oil-and-vinegar dressing mixed, requiring constant vigilance and lots of experimentation with how hard, long, and often to shake, not to mention storage temperature and what spices to add to the mixture.
Our family is a collage of images. Swine flu Christmas. Soul-holding moments. The poetry wall, quiet reverence and strokes of paint over half-revealed secrets. Mural women finding their voices.
Holding hands in the surgical waiting area. Hugs and popsicles. “Will you put my earrings back in for me? You’re better at it than Mom.”
Waiting for a teen to come home or answer a text—please, please answer the text!—at 2:30 a.m. Christmas Eve.
The skittish dance of young souls. Trust offered—mistakes we made—trust withdrawn, offered again. Like watching a woman unravel an afghan after finding a dropped stitch and knit it back together again.
Cello music, violin, soccer, sketches, paintings, and poems. Twelve muddy paws to wipe on rainy days. Storms, kisses, and fifteen journals filled. Transitions mastered, businesses grown. Girls becoming women. Hearts mended and other ordinary miracles.
“Will you sit with me after dinner?” Mediation is the glue that keeps us solid. Five years and four solid, beautiful young women later, there’s still a bit of overwhelmed-crazy-can-we-do-this? some days. But we’re getting better at this business of gently sheltering souls.
Given this collage of individuals and responsibilities, deciding to get married was quite a process for us. We knew we wanted a joyful wedding, and for everyone there to share our joy. There were the girls and extended family to consider, with levels of acceptance for our journey increasing over the years. Then there was Wisconsin; maybe if we waited a little longer….
Finally, from a quiet space, a tender, open space, we recognized that the joy we’d been waiting for rested curled in our hearts, a sprout waiting to open. It didn’t come from anyone else being ready for our marriage. It came from years of growth and healing, from a love deeper and less volatile than in our early days.
One evening, the same day we scheduled the Mandolin Inn and the magistrate in Dubuque, Heather’s dad called to share the news that our Iowa marriage would be recognized by federal tax law. We stood in our kitchen and held each other, silently moved at having the federal government extend an olive branch of equality past the walls of Wisconsin’s laws.
Days later, we found words for what we felt that night. If they had a melody, they would be set to the cry of a red-tailed hawk, and haunting owl song at night.
My best friend, my partner, my love, I am grateful to have you by my side, part of my life. You and our four girls complete me, because without love I would not be whole.
Together with you I hold joy in my heart. You are my best friend, my inspiration, and a reminder that all the tough bits are worth it. I will be by your side in times of celebration and sadness. I will love you when life is simple, and when it is a challenge.
Today is not a beginning, but a continuation of something that began five years ago. We have acquired many anniversaries, many sacred moments. Several years ago we chose rings, symbols of our affection and commitment to each other. Today we reaffirm our connection, our bond, our deepening understanding of each other’s needs, dreams, and goals.
In each moment, we drink in our sufficiency, our passion, and our caring. We remember to breathe deeply, so that we don’t miss the exact second when a glint of sunlight turns an indigo bunting feather brilliant blue, or Hawk calls and stirs our spirits, or Owl glides silently across our path at twilight.
Our love is not perfect, but it is whole. We complete each other in ways we never imagined. Through the years, we will remember how to laugh through the tears, growing old together at the same time we grow younger every day, deepening our capacity for joy.
Heather and Heather live on the west side of Madison and have four daughters ranging from eighth grade to junior year of college. Heather M.’s business, Create Thrive Grow, www.CreateThriveGrow.com, includes massage therapy, intuitive work, and her DoodleKids drawings. Heather K. works on campus and has published four novels. Both enjoy journaling, birding, nature hikes, and their three dogs. They were married in Dubuque in September, with a Wisconsin ceremony to follow.