Still Life, Still Celebrating: Special Anniversary Edition

njm_3015-001One year ago last Monday, Steve and I stood atop the Rooftop of the Center in the Square surrounded by family and friends and said “I do.” It was a cloudy, almost blustery day, but the rain held off, and we had a beautiful ceremony with our beloved mountains as backdrop, and a wonderful evening with dancing, cupcakes, heartfelt toasts that made us laugh and cry, and so much love and joy I thought I might burst.

I’ve often heard people say the first year of marriage is the hardest. There have been some adjustments to be made as Steve and I settled in to our new home (“Do you really want to hang that pink and yellow painting in the living room?” “Can you please close the hamper to keep the dirty clothes smell inside?”) Slowly we found our way to shared spaces that make us both smile, and we discovered new “together” routines that we love, honor and cherish.

My cancer diagnosis added some unexpected complications to that “first year is the hardest” admonition. I don’t think when we said our vows that either of us realized just how soon, and how dramatically, we’d be practicing the “in sickness and in health” portion of our pledge to one another.

imageBack when Steve and I celebrated our one-year dating anniversary, we had traveled to Seattle for a conference that same week. While touring around Pike Place Market, we hit upon the idea to honor our milestone by purchasing a piece of artwork jointly. We had already discerned that our tastes in art didn’t always converge–Steve preferred the representational, while I looked first for color, pattern, and mood–and though we weren’t yet engaged, we knew we were heading toward a future together. At the market we found a Scott Alberts woodcut of Mount Rainier with a cobalt blue sky. Steve liked the wood, I liked the color, and we both liked the mountain, which was recognizable but not straight realism. Sold!

The traditional first wedding anniversary gift is paper, so Steve had the wonderful idea that we should reprise our joint-artwork purchase: instead of each buying separate gifts, we could look for a watercolor or painting on paper that we both liked during our brief celebratory visit to Asheville, where we’d shared several special moments, including the day when Steve met my dad, and our honeymoon.

imageAs we wandered around some of the downtown shops and galleries, we kept our eyes open. Nothing much grabbed us until we saw a beautiful Jane Voorhees giclee print of a watercolor. The colors were rich and vibrant, the scene impressionistic rather than realistic, yet the painting clearly captured a Blue Ridge mountain landscape. When we picked it up and read its title, “these healing mountains,” it seemed meant for us.

Our first anniversary looked pretty different than what I would have described, if you’d asked me to project a vision of it back on our wedding day (especially the hairdo I’d be sporting…). Still, I was able to stroll through a city filled with good memories, enjoy delicious food, and let the beauty of the mountains sooth me, all with my husband, my love, right by my side.

It is enough.

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