I went to the card store on Monday to buy a card that I knew I would not find. Still, I dutifully walked down the aisle to the Wedding Anniversary section and allowed my eyes to stray over the shelf that celebrates twenty five years of marriage. There were a lots of cards on offer, full of marshmallow words, way too sweet and besides far too alien, because I guessed they were written by someone in a Hallmark factory who sat at a desk watching the clock. I left the store empty handed. I went to the bakery and ordered a cake. I told the woman who resembled a nurse, in her white peaked hat, that I wanted her to write ''twenty five years of love'' across the top. She smiled. Then I went home.
On Tuesday morning I woke up to see the man, whom I could not buy a card for, standing by the bedside with a cup of coffee in his hands. Happy Anniversary, he said to me, I love you. I said, Happy Anniversary, I love you too. He did not have a card. I felt relieved and so we planned our day. There was to be no work or anything at all, as in chores, connected with the household. We went to town and bought some champagne. Sat outside and had coffee even though it was raining. I picked up the cake. We went to the fishmarket and indulged in the purchase of a large amount of crab claws. When we got home, the man I love made potato salad with some of the potatoes we grew together. We popped the champagne and the children I love toasted us. We sat at the table and the two dogs and the cat gathered around it too. We pulled the flesh off the crab claws and soaked up the garlic butter with the bread. We oohed and aahed over the potato salad. We sang songs.
It was then that I recalled something I had scrawled on a piece of paper years ago, long before we settled here, back in the distance of my mind. I found it, stowed away under miscellaneous in my filing cabinet, and I read it out, but it was not just for the man I love, it was for my sons and the cat and the dogs too and the sturdy table we sat at, heaving with good food and it was for the garden and the house and the energy it breathes. Because I realised love is the most difficult thing of all to define. There is no beginning or end to love. You can't really hold it or measure it, you just live it from day to day. It has got to be like breathing, you take it for granted until there comes a day when you discover you just can't do it anymore.
your love is my shade in the Summer sun
my palette in the hues of Fall
my blanket in the chill of Winter
my hope in the birth of Spring
© Mary Wilkinson, 2009