For those of you who are close to my family and I, you’re probably well aware that their 31st anniversary is today April 10. Those who are closer to me also know that I wasn’t there the day they got married for I had not yet been born. I’ve been to only two weddings in my life so far. One was the wedding of my best friend Mashell who married my other best friend Tanisha. Then marlando, my close friend and mentor also got married. I don’t remember vows and I don’t think many people remember them except for the ones the vows were made to. If I had gotten the chance, I would like to have been at my parents wedding just to hear the vows, just so I can know if they were kept. I then got to thinking if vows are anything like promises, and “I do’s” are the acceptance of those promises then I didn’t need to be there to know what was said. All I had to do was just backtrack and think about what they have been to each other for all these years. I started imagining my dad as he looks into my mom’s eyes and he says to her:
” Joan, I love you with all my heart.” And again if vows are anything like promises then he”ll continue with ” it’s not always going to be easy, sometimes we’re going to argue, sometimes we’re going to laugh and there are times when we’re going to cry. I hope we get lots of laughs, less arguments and when we cry, I hope it’s for reasons that bring joy. But that’s not realistic is it? Of course not, what’s realistic is that not all of those tears are gonna be tears of joy.You see, I have no intention of upsetting you but I’m a man and we don’t figure these things out as easily as women do, I’m going to eventually do something boneheaded that makes you mad at me but being mad at someone doesn’t mean you stop loving them. Being mad at someone means that you’re just mad at them, it means we can get pass it and move on if we talk about it. You know as well as I do people who quit relationships weren’t meant for marriage because they couldn’t last through one. We’ve never quit before, we’ve never given up so I guess we are ready. You’ve given me your heart and I give you mine in return, no one has the upper hand, no one has leverage, no one has the advantage. I will love you with all my heart, with all my life and I make this special vow to you, that 31 years from now I know for sure we’ll still be married.”
She would then turn to him and let him know that she loves him too. “I know it’s not always going to be easy but I also know that sometimes we’ll laugh and I also know that all tears won’t be tears of joy but some will be. We didn’t say we were ready simply because we were the perfect couple, we said we were ready because in spite of any imperfection this is as perfect as it gets. I understand that what we had before this day was just practice and this is a start of something totally new. There are things we’re gonna have to learn on the fly, so lets not be totally freaked out when times are rough, those are the times we should draw closer together, understand each other and most of all love each other. I’ve said yes to marrying you and now I say yes to growing with you knowing that our mistakes are also our experiences. I also know that growing doesn’t depends on how well we solve our problems but it depends on our willingness to continue going forward no matter what.
Now we all know that these weren’t the exact words that were said, but they are truths that I’ve seen manifested in my parents’ marriage over the past 30 years. I’ve seen my parents cry, I’ve seen them sad, I’ve seen them argue and I’ve also seen them laugh like they were best friends. What was said at the altar didn’t ensure love, but love confirmed and brought to fruition the vows that were given 31 years ago. 31 years is amazing to me and I’m sure there are couples out there with 60 and 50 years anniversaries but I don’t know of any so I boast and take pride in what my parents have accomplished. This isn’t about the kids, this is about them and what they have done for and meant to each other over the past 31 years. This about two people who’ve never loved before and since meeting each other have never found the need to love again. This is about my mom and my dad showing exemplary courage and tried character to preserve love for so long. I wrote a statement on Facebook a few weeks ago and said that “Not every relationship is meant to last, some were long enough or short enough just to get rid of the mess within you, so that when God gives you the “one” you don’t mess it up with your selfishness and insecurities.” Now I received a few feedback on this so I knew a lot of people have the experience of going through different relationships and getting rid of something about themselves through every breakup. There are people for whom this method is very effective. There are however the lucky, brave and amazing few like Joan and Emile Barnett who’ve never needed a second shot with someone else because what they learned through every mistake, they applied it to them. They went through the same thing, but loved each other enough and cared for each other enough to work through it. It was as if they were telling each other “you learn with me, to grow with me to stay with me.” They did this for 31 years, that’s an amazing accomplishment. You guys have taught me endurance, love, patience and how to greet every situation with childlike enthusiasm. Congratulations on your anniversary, I love you, I love you and I love you.