We forgot about those letters we penned to each other on a marriage retreat. A whole year ago.
But here they were, two envelopes in our mailbox, our own scrawl written on the front.
Our brains did not compute. What were these? (we are getting a little older, mind you)
"Oh my goodness." I chuckled to my husband, remembering vaguely what they might be. "These are the love letters we took drafted at the end of that great weekend together."
Both of us just stared at the white rectangles, postmarks scrawled at the top and bottom.
Normally, I would have ripped mine open. But this time, not so much.
Instead, my heart skipped a beat and my nerves came out to play.
Same with my normally very calm-cool-and-collected husband.
What had we written to each other when the new life stage in front of us was brimming with possibility and hope, a year later, our lives on a seemingly never-ending hold?
What promises had we made to each other that we did not keep? What goals had we set that we hadn't even taken a step toward? What vows to change did we share that might have been broken?
What words were inside, threatening to mock us?
Making some kind of off-hand excuses to each other, I took those two holders of secret messages and tucked them into my "inbox," out of the way of our curious minds.
We were not ready.
We set aside a special time when we would open them together with quick promises not to judge the other.
A few days later, having donned our emotional armor, we apprehensively pulled out the small sheets with words scribbled all over them.
Silence. A long one. Knowing smiles. A kiss. Tears (mine). "I love you(s)." A long, long embrace.
Relief washed over us.
We hadn't made empty promises. We hadn't barked a bunch of goals. We hadn't asked for the other to change in "no uncertain terms."
What we HAD done was gently remind each other all the reasons we loved each other. STILL.
We HAD called out the beauty we saw in the other. STILL.
We HAD thanked each other for our so-far marriage adventure. STILL.
We HAD stated the simple words, "I love you." STILL.
We HAD written that we were so excited to venture ahead into the unknown future together. STILL.
The words were pure grace. Just what we needed.
Given openly. Given freely. Given lovingly.
Today, I am officiating a wedding over Zoom, standing by our fireplace, with this man I love right by my side.
We are all gussied up for the first time in forever.
Another couple is just starting their very own marriage adventure.
Promises will be made. Kisses will be given. Words of love will be exchanged.
They don't know what lies before them. JUST LIKE US. They see beauty in each other. JUST LIKE US. They are heading into an unknown future. JUST LIKE US. They are grateful for the other. JUST LIKE US. They are excited too. JUST LIKE US.
They are doing it together. JUST LIKE US.
I've asked this cute couple to write a letter to each other that I will send them a year from now.
Maybe we will write another one today that we will "send" to our future selves.
Maybe won't be nervous wrecks when they appear in the big green box at the end of our driveway.
Maybe we will rip them open right away, devouring the grace we will need once again.
And again and again and again.