Last month when my grandfather died my mom called to ask for a picture of me with Grandaddy at my wedding. “Well, I think the only one I have is in our wedding album,” I replied. “That’s fine,” she said. “We’ll set it out on the table at the visitation for people to view.” She carefully opened it to a large photo that made up the entire layout of one page. You can see us as bride and groom out of focus and my grandparents in the foreground. I love this photo and this page of our album. It’s beautiful to me.
After the visitation the family was sitting around chatting through our grief and exhaustion after losing the family patriarch. We flipped through the pages of my beloved book. We giggled at the shot of my cousin with two champagne glasses and marveled at how brown my husband’s hair was the day we wed. My man is a bit more salt and peppered these days. For the first time I looked at the pages and couldn’t believe the young bride I saw. I shook my head and said, “I look so young!” I do look young. It was eleven years ago.
We always discussed what we would get from the house in a fire. The answer was always the same, “The kids, the dog and the wedding album.” My husband even said as we left for the funeral, “Are you sure we don’t have another photo? I hate to take the album. What if something happens?”
It’s like he was predicting the future. The night after the funeral we stumbled back to our hotel room. Our hearts were heavy and our bodies felt even heavier. With everyone off their schedules, we were a sleepy, surly group. I wrangled the children into bed in a strange place as he unloaded all our luggage from the car. After the kids were down he said, “Did you get the album out of the car?” I told him I left it because I couldn’t imagine anyone would take it. He found this answer to be unsatisfactory and grumpily stomped down to the hotel parking lot. I stifled my laughs when he angrily returned two minutes later to get the car keys. When he returned his anger went from peeved to furious. When I asked what was wrong he said, “I dropped the album and busted the corner!”
My heart sank when I saw the bent and torn edge. We spent a great deal of time and money designing the layout of our album. These pictures were taken in 2005, before the “cloud” was a mysterious thing we all counted on to backup our memories. So they are archaically saved on CD-roms like it’s the dark ages. The album is tangible proof we got married. In a home with small children we don’t display many “nice things.” The album is the exception. It’s out with the instructions to not let anything happen to it. He explained that in his frustration of carrying a bunch of my junk that I had left in the car, it slipped from his hands and hit the pavement just right. He was mad at himself for losing his temper and hastily grabbing everything. He was mad at me and my automobile sloppiness. (Which is a continual point of contention in our marriage. But, I’m getting better!)
Here’s the thing. I’m not going to fix it. First, it would be expensive. Second, I’m just going to leave it.
That ding to our pristine book is kind of a metaphor for being married eleven years. Gone is the newlywed luster of our first decade of marriage. It’s wrinkled like the creases we have around our eyes now. On April 23, 2005 we were so shiny and new in our gown and tux. We had not yet weathered any of the changes and choices that make up a marriage. Money, graduate school, demanding careers, our parents’ divorces and separations, buying and selling houses, pregnancy, babies, children and family deaths. We’ve experienced more. So has our album.
I like our creases and dents. They have a story to tell, just like us.