My husband and I married when I was 53 and he was 61. We knew we wouldn’t get to have and to hold one another for the same “forever” my sister and brother-in-law had already enjoyed for 39 years of marriage, and counting. We wouldn’t have the 53 years my parents shared before Dad died.
Our time together would be shorter. So, I was bent on making the most of it, especially on our wedding day. I hoped our guests would tap into all the love in their own lives — and dream of more ahead. For me and Tom, I imagined the sounds, textures, words, and embraces of the day would stay with us into our future. I wanted it all to last in the way our marriage would last.
Tom knew he was marrying a timekeeper. My obsession with tracking the hours left in each day means I’ve never stopped wearing wristwatches, even as others began using phones to tell them when they could leave work or how much longer until they’d see their beloved.
A few years ago, I bought an elegant brand from Denmark in a sleek, modern design, made of my favorite metal — silver. The one I currently wear has a face in cat’s-eye green. It is so beautiful I convince myself I’m gazing at it to take in the details of its careful construction. But the real reason is to parse the number of minutes left for crucial matters, like whether I can fit in a call to Mom just before my doctor’s appointment.
I bought a beautiful new watch for the wedding — white with glimmering crystals on each hour.
I didn’t look at it once that day. There was no need to oversee time — it had stopped. Our guests may have had obligations before the ceremony, or a child to fetch afterward. But as the bride, I forgot an agenda ever existed. For once, my watch was only an accessory, not a meter of my experience. It was as if I didn’t know the day would end.
I was stunned when it did. I yearned for more wedding dances and a chance to go back and sit at each table, to talk with every guest. I wanted more minutes to listen to them tell me about their weddings, about the things our ceremony had stirred up in them, about hoped-for future romances.
It was too much to take in on a single day. So, I absorbed what I could, knowing that in the years ahead I would recall all that grace. Especially when I’d have to rise to the hard moments in marriage, the ones I couldn’t imagine on our wedding day. I trusted that, later, I could review what I’d missed in the extraordinary blur of that day, details captured by our photographer and videographer, who froze us in those moments, in all our middle-aged glory.
On our wedding day, Tom and I embraced our symbolic role by committing to love for eternity. As bride and groom, we were ageless, timeless. We were not done with love, even at our age. Especially not at our age.
The photos and videos remind me how present I was that day. Tom’s ability to live in the moment comes easily to him. It takes more effort for me, with my tendency to worry over a renovation project or a flight reservation. But not on the day we married.
In the seven years since our wedding, I’ve learned the clock does not motivate Tom the way it does me. His unhurried pace can annoy me when I’m in my usual rush. But more often he inspires me to dabble at modeling myself after him.
Sometimes I even believe there is no shortage of time with him. I can keep my eyes from checking my watch for reassurance, trusting that what we have is exactly enough.
Laura Sturza is a writer in Rockville, Maryland. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell your story. Email your 650-word essay on a relationship to email@example.com. Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.