Well, we just got back from a weekend at the lake. I know, I know. Most people like to go to the lake when it is warm, and the actual water can be enjoyed. But we rather enjoy going in the depths of January, when everything is bleak and wet! Actually, the ocassion was my family's Christmas (winter) get together. We are 27 strong, and have seriously outgrown everyone's house. It is a weekend of good food, good fellowship, games and lots of good people. My siblings and I think that our mother would be very glad that we still make the effort to meet like this at least 3 to 4 times a year.
Last year when we went, Jessica was a single person, stuggling to find her place in the family. This year she is married and has added her mate to our gathering. I certainly could not have imagined how a year would change the landscape of our family. Scott is a wonderful addition to the group, and has made Jessica's family role somewhat different. She now has a partner to participate with in the games and activities, and also a partner to consider in the decision making. It is a big change for her, one she seems to take seriously and with joy. Ah, to be young and in love again!
Her relationship has made me reflect more this year on marriage and the living, breathing being that it is. I am sure if I was a philosopher, I could pontificate on the stages of a marriage. I just know that you have the dating period, when there is passion and almost a puppy kind of love. Then there are the early years of marriage when you are really learning to live together and figure out how to make the whole thing work. Of course the child-rearing years can be a challenge, when the joys and rewards are as high as the responsibilities and work is burdensome. And then there is the empty nest years. A true test of a marriage. This is the time when you figure out if you really love your spouse, or if you have been too busy and overwhelmed to notice you don't know who you are married to anymore. Randy and I are in the stage following the empty nesters. I will call it the post-empty nest period. It is definitely the reward for surviving the other marital periods. For us, it is the pre-old age time when we are still working, but our responsibilities and tasks have dropped by the wayside leaving us both time and motivation to again get to know each other. We are blessed to enjoy love and friendship combined with a sense of accomplishment.
I am not sure if this is normal or not, but Randy and I have both noticed that we think about the loss of each other more than we used to. I think some of that is the dependence being together for 30 plus years has created between us. It is a wonderful thing to have a partner that you love and enjoy spending time with. On the other hand, the stakes are high in the possibility of losing that. It has gotten to the point where I cannot imagine my life without him, nor do I want to. A bittersweet realization at best. To have a great relationship void of the worries of younger marriage, but to possess a fear of losing that. Such is life!