We took a day trip into the mountains to kayak down a river yesterday.
The real reason we went, though was to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my husband’s aunt and uncle. Over the holidays, his uncle proposed to his aunt again and then the family planned a surprise renewal of the vows at their weekend home on the river. With the backdrop of the July 4th holiday, pandemic almost in the rearview mirror, the entire family arrived to mark the milestone.
50 years. It almost boggles the mind. Many of us do get married, some more than once. I imagine most people think it will be forever. The beginnings of any romantic relationship can feel like 4th of July fireworks. Explosive, awe-inspiring, heart pounding. That kind of love doesn’t last. It just can’t. It can’t be July 4th every day for 50 years. It is too much. It burns out. It implodes. It fizzles out. It’s a dud. But it can be July 4th sometimes. Even if it is once a year.
We loaded up the kayaks and inner tubes and drove them to the river head and floated down to the property where the wedding was about to take place. The day was glorious, almost cloudless. The bluest skies in the world hang over North Carolina. The water was ice melt cold and the sun danced behind the trees making patterns on the choppy water. People lined the banks; families, parties, corn hole and beer. America at it’s finest.
Weddings are beautiful. I’ve never been to a bad one. I’ve been to ones with bad food or bad music or no alcohol, but the spirit of the event has always been beautiful. This was no exception. Celebrating love that has stood the test of time is truly a gift. It’s easy to celebrate the beginnings of something. All the potential is there, none of the mistakes or missteps.
Whenever we go to the mountains, I HAVE to drive. If I didn’t, I would be turning green, vertigo setting in and likely puking on the side of the road. The roads are so damn squirrelly, turning and weaving, up and down. Sometimes the edge of the road is right at the edge of the mountain and I can see how high up we are. I’m feeling waves of nausea just thinking about it.
On the way home, it started to get dark. I frowned. The only thing worse then driving squirrelly mountain roads, is driving them in the dark. Just as I was about to complain out loud, that magical moment at twilight happened, where the hints of blinking lights caught in my peripheral vision. Bobbing and dancing in the weedy flowers at the side of the road, I see the fireflies come alive.
As the night grew darker, the fireworks began to appear in the distance. For a brief moment, the fireflies and the fireworks were simultaneously competing for my attention. The grandeur of a dozen different fireworks displays was easy to see. I looked around the car to tell everyone to look, but at least 2 were asleep and the third was on the iPad with headphones in so I was basically alone. I oohed and ahhed to myself. It occurred to me that in the darkness, the fireworks and the fireflies both served the same purpose. They both gave light in the dark. They both illuminated the way. They were both a celebration. Love lights the way and the darkness retreats.
I’m not going to lie, that fireworks kind of love will rock your world, it will take your breath away and give you a bounce in your step. But I have a new appreciation for the firefly kind of love. It flickers softly in the weeds at the edge of the dark. It’s the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.