When I started composing this letter in my head, the first thing that came to mind was “our love is like a red, red rose.” Then I laughed at what you would think of that after those video messages and pictures we found on your old iphone. Pretty tame in comparison, huh? There was enough sap on that phone to leave you sticky for a week. Twenty-one-year-old me was certainly silly in love. But back to roses.
Roses tend to be so traditional and expected that I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated them properly, even though I find them lovely. Hand me a dozen roses and I will be floored. I’ll enjoy every moment until the last petal falls. But my reaction will be different than if you give me a bouquet with snapdragons. When Aeryn and I went to Yaddo Gardens this week with your mom and walked through a portico of blooming roses, you can imagine the heady scent that surrounded us on three sides by climbing vines and bushes. The variety of shapes and colors heirloom roses come in makes the small range of florist choices seem almost paltry. It was the beginning of new eyes for them. Everywhere I looked, they were a little more than I expected.
As the 25th came sneaking up on me in this busy month, I’ve been trying to think about six years together, about what I want to say to you and what I feel about us now. Nothing was coming to mind other than starting off year five attending a funeral is not all I want to remember about it. I wanted something cohesive, something to answer for the discordant feelings that can come when you live the ups and downs and ins and outs of daily life with someone. And I wanted something light and happy to hold on to. The other day I found what I was looking for while I was reading Rose Daughter. I’ve long known of McKinley’s passion for roses, but as I’m reading this book and thinking of the gardens, I’m finally starting to get it.
Roses are for love. Not silly sweethearts’ love but the love that makes you and keeps you whole, love that gets you through the worst your life’ll give you and that pours out of you when you’re given the best instead.
That’s our marriage. Our love has been keeping me whole and getting me through this last year and a half even when it isn’t pretty enough to share with the world. Marriages fluctuate; for better or for worse just depends on the moment, and circumstances aren’t always within your control. Reading that passage reminded me that I’ll take it either way with you because, six years in, I know our love is a red, red rose.
Here’s just a little sap because, well, it’s our anniversary and I’m pretty sure it’s mandatory.
A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
Until all the seas run dry, my love. Happy anniversary.