Thirty weeks, 2 days. Our 34th wedding anniversary.

It’s dull and grey here today — comfortingly typical west coast weather. This day, 34 years ago, Ray and I were married on a warm, spectacularly sunny day.

We crafted the ceremony around what we loved. I am Roman Catholic, so Ray agreed to be married at Holy Name Parish in Vancouver. We chose gorgeous music that we both revelled in — Handel’s Largo; Panis Angelicus; Ave Maria — and invested our meagre budget in a singer, a harpist and an organist. There were only close friends and family there. Our reception was in my family home. We didn’t even have a cake — we took pictures cutting into salmon. I wore a dress I’d owned for years. And the only photos we have are blurry happy snaps taken by whoever happened to bring a camera.

Out of this simple day came these 34 years of companionship, partnership and strength for both me and Ray. I often wonder about the huge investments and family-splitting tension that some young couples go through to mount a ceremony for a relationship that doesn’t have enough depth to pull them through everything they will ultimately have to endure. Ray and I really did love and support each other until death parted us. I don’t feel parted, though. I continue to feel Ray’s presence in my growing strength in pushing my life forward.

I do feel this anniversary. Tears are seeming to squirt out of my eyes unbidden. But I don’t feel devastation. I feel warmth and strength and tremendous gratitude for having had a relationship so rare and precious. I feel grateful that I still love Ray and that my kids and I continue to enjoy his humorous, intelligent and talented legacies.

Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you.

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