I vow to love you....all of your days

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Today is Valentine's day...a holiday to honor love. I have been blessed to experience many kinds of love in my life...the love of the Lord, the love of my father and mother, the love of my siblings and extended family, the love of my children, the love of dear friends, and the love of one man...my husband. 

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Brooks and I met in the summer between our college years at an Ice cream Social at church...how's that for retro?!! He was dating another girl at the time, but we were all part of large group of college aged kids that hung out together that summer. We became friends and a few weeks later, his relationship with other girl ended. His parents lived in an old house on Lake Stevens and many evenings after work we would all gather there to swim and water ski,  have bonfires, and sing songs with a guitar around the campfire. If it sounds idyllic, it truly was. Most of us attended the same church and shared a bond of faith. In August, my older sister got married in Seattle and Brooks asked me out after the wedding for a date later the next week. We drove down to Seattle after work on a beautiful sunny day, walked around Green Lake, shopped at a cool sport clothing shop, and ended up at Thirteen Coins restaurant for dinner. 

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And so it began...we saw each other almost every day until I left to go back to college in Minnesota three weeks later. He returned to college in Tacoma, WA.  Long distance romances in the late 70's were so different than now...no cell phones, texting, email, or facebook!  We actually wrote letters back and forth (I still have them:)) and talked on the phone once a week...Sunday night, when long distance rates were cheapest. Though our relationship had it's bumps, we kept our relationship going, seeing one another at Christmas break, a surprise visit at Easter,  and then again in the summer. I still had one more semester to go and he flew back to visit me in the fall, getting to meet my friends and see my campus. The following January I finished my degree and we got engaged! In July of that year we were married on a lovely warm summer day, surrounded by family and friends. One of the songs at our wedding was Longer, by Dan Fogelberg, with the following lyrics:

      Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean, Higher than any bird ever flew, Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens, I've been in love with you.  Stronger than any mountain cathedral, Truer than any tree ever grew, Deeper than any forest primeval, I am in love with you. I'll bring fires in the winters, you'll bring showers in the springs, We'll fly through the falls and summers, With love on our wings. (Sigh....awwww). Through the years as the fire starts to mellow, Burning lines in the book of our lives, Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow, I'll be in love with you.

For some reason, this song came to mind yesterday and for the first time I noticed a progression..."I've been in love with you," "I am in love with you," and "I'll be in love with you." Interesting how during the years when things crack and fade and age, the lyricist says, almost like a decision he's made, "I'll be in love with you." And that's one of the things that I've learned after 33 years of marriage...love is a decision...even when the feelings and romance seem to have disappeared.

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About a year after we were married, a movie came out named, "The Four Seasons." The movie was romantic comedy about three middle age couples who vacationed together each season of the year. One of the marriages falls apart and that husband then brings a lovely young blonde along on the following vacations and the other two couples are almost forced to examine their own marriages. Alan Alda starred in the film, along with Carol Burnett and others, and Alda also directed it. Brooks and I saw the movie with friends and loved it. Shortly after seeing it I watched an interview with Alan Alda where he was asked about the idea for the film. I've never forgotten his response. He said the four seasons represent phases that a relationship goes through. In the spring (the beginning), all is fresh, dewy, and new..like young love. Everything is good. Summer comes and the relationship intensifies in the heat. Things are still good and fun, passion is hot, but a few small irritants are developing. Fall arrives and the leaves fall off...the irritants and faults are exposed...raw to the wind and rain. Then comes Winter...and it feels cold and lonely and dark. The couple wonders if the relationship can survive, with so little heat and warmth... almost nothing seems good. It is at this point that many relationships end, as one or both parties walk away, thinking love is gone and the relationship is dead...no revival possible. They go looking for a new Springtime with someone else. But, Alda said, instead of moving on, if the couple can cling to one another in the cold and hang on, working on it and looking for good...many times the Springtime returns again to the relationship and love flourishes, even deeper than before. I have found this to be true. I love you, Brooks. Happy Valentine's day!

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All images are via Pinterest...