Paul and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month. Just writing that out makes me smile. We've been married for exactly half of our lives. It feels so comforting to know someone so well, to have traversed illness and health, joy and sorrow, struggles and ease, side by side with the same person who loves you even when sometimes they might not like you very much.
We spent quite a bit of time discussing how we might celebrate this milestone, and in the end decided that we would take a full week of vacation from work and spend each day doing some small, enjoyable activity together. It was the first real, week-long vacation that we can remember taking in many, many years. We rented bikes and went riding downtown, we walked in scenic parks and out on the pier of Lake Michigan, we visited antique shops and my hometown of Manitowoc, and we loved every minute of it. But the highlight of our anniversary week was when we traveled to Indiana for a short stay.
The morning of our anniversary I was as nervous as a new bride as we drove to meet our friend Bishop Don who said Mass for us and invited us to renew our vows. I was surprised to find that Paul was just as choked up and emotional as I was. Following a delicious Italian lunch we bid farewell to our friend and traveled to northern Indiana for an overnight stay at Serenity Springs, a resort with private cabins overlooking a small lake. It was so peaceful and quiet. The resort was definitely well named! When we arrived we were taken by horse and carriage to our cabin. I had to resist recreating a scene from my favorite movie, Barefoot in the Park. I wanted to stand up and shout "We just got married!" but to Paul's relief, I refrained from embarrassing him. We completed our vacation with a stop at Michigan City, an artistic little town with a sea glass jewelry store where I had my favorite piece of glass re-wired, and a nice hike in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I never wanted the anniversary week to end.
|Serenity Springs horse and carriage ride|
|Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore-half of the trail had been burned by the DNR|
|The burned forest-not exactly my kind of paradise; this sign made me laugh.|
|Now this looks a little more like a paradise valley.|
|And Lake Michigan must be pretty close to paradise!|
A week later, we drove to Lake Villa, Illinois to bid farewell to our friends, The Handmaids of the Precious Blood, at a final Mass as they prepared to move to their motherhouse in Tennessee. On that sunny afternoon we took the backroads instead of the freeway for the one hour trip and were treated to a delightfully scenic drive that included farms, horses, white fences and fresh spring flowers. It felt like an anniversary vacation all over again!
That night I dreamed that Paul and I were in heaven, and the heaven of my dreams looked very similar to that drive to Illinois, only we were walking together instead of driving. I do hope and pray that after at least twenty-five more years of wedded happiness, when the time arrives for Paul and I to leave this earthly life, we will truly be walking hand in hand together through paradise.