This afternoon I received an email from a friend who is thinking of entering the wedding photography business. She had some questions about what I looked for in a photographer, what I paid, etc. As silly as it may be, I actually have my wedding planner in my office at work. It's been shoved on a bottom shelf collecting dust for years when I brought my planner to work to have my information accessible for a special I was involved in and never took it home.
Anyway, I flipped through to find the photographer information and then kept looking through the other folders when suddenly I spotted a simple piece of white paper with black type on it. I gasped and then squealed! I knew immediately what it was!
We had a very large wedding in 2002 and received many wonderful gifts from our guests. Beautiful china, personalized Christmas ornaments, crystal and many things to fill our small apartment as we changed it from "my place" to "our home." Mixed in with all the gifts and cards containing monetary gifts was a plain white business envelope with a simple, typed letter from a young firefighter we had become friends with in the few short years since he had joined our fire company. I remember lounging on the bed at the Holiday Inn, surrounded by flowery wedding cards, opening that envelope and wondering what was inside.
What was inside was a gift of money accompanied by the most amazing letter! Insightful and tender - from such an unexpected source. We read it with tears in our eyes... and then we read it again. I loved that letter immediately and knew it would mean something to me forever.
I tucked it away for safe keeping and, as I am prone to do, completely forgot where I put it. For years, when that letter has crossed my mind, I have looked in the places where I keep small treasures, always hoping to find it. I never have. Until today.
I was almost afraid to read it again. I worried that the letter that once meant so much to me when I was embarking upon my new life with my new husband would now seem laughable or irrelevant almost 7 years later...
It didn't. It doesn't. This letter is still as wonderful today as it was on November 23, 2002, when I first read it. I don't expect it to touch all who read it the same way, nor do I expect others to be impressed by it the way I am, but I will share it anyway before I take it home to find a frame for it so I can hang it on my wall. I want to read it over and over again and remember the truths contained within when I need to remember them the most.
Who would expect something like this from a young 20-something computer nerd who is into Japanese animation and the Smashing Pumpkins? Never in a million years...
This isn't a very good gift. It really isn't meant to be a good gift, because what's included isn't a gift. It's a start. A couple needs more than gifts to start a life together and love is but a part of life. So hear the ramblings of a young fool for just a bit, because I know you are going to hear the ramblings of much older and wiser fools over the days, weeks, months and years to come.
Be kind to each other. Laugh when it's funny, but remember there is always something to bring you down. Cry when it's sad, but remember there is something better to brighten the day. Scream when you are mad, but that will pass and be replaced with other feelings. Fight if you must, but you will eventually run out of energy and all that's left is acceptance. Life and love have their ups and downs. Remember you chose each other and life, love and time will continue no matter what you feel or do. Or so it should.
Love is not always happy. It can be sad, angry, frustrating, desolate, uncaring, even hating. Love is something that should never be taken lightly. I think you chose love for the right reasons. Remember that love isn't what anybody ever expects it to be. Depressing as that sounds, there are the food things about love. Love can be happy, curious, overwhelming, sappy, complete, and even just as good if not better than any poet, author, musician or artist could ever convey. Love should be unconditional. Love accepts the good with the bad and learns from both. Love exists whether you are near or far. Love shines through when you need it the most. Love pokes at you when you think you don't need it.
One last note on love. Be VERY honest with each other, even if you cannot be honest with yourselves. Work with each other, even when you can't see why the other is doing what they do. Take the good and learn from the bad. And there will be good, and there will be bad, but such is life and love.
So, Why the non-gift you ask? Because a couple has to start somewhere, with something. I would like to think in my very small way, I helped start that something, somewhere. It isn't much, but every little bit helps. And I know you will survive and grow and love no matter what gets thrown at you.
Take this note for what it is. I AM young. I DON'T know love well. I AM still a little weird. But it doesn't matter, life does. So take the note for what it's worth. The note is my gift to you. The other goes to the start of a very wonderful life you will build together.
T. F. B.
What a different person I am from the person who first read that note, tanned and young, still dressed in a fluffy ivory gown with tired feet from dancing all night. With my new husband by my side, my world was wide open. The good in this letter is about all I paid attention to, most likely. For the bad would never befall us.
Yet here we are, almost 7 years later, and - believe me - we've seen many of the down sides mentioned in this letter. We've screamed, fought, at times even thought of giving up. We are different people now. Yet this letter - its good and its bad - still ring true. This letter still touches me the way it touched that bride. I am more aware now, maybe even more cynical and in some ways even bitter, but I know the truths this letter holds. We are not always as happy as that couple hoped to always be. But we are still here and we still "survive and grow and love no matter what" just like our young friend hoped we would.
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