by Angela Kempe
The Alps carved the skyline with its frosty jagged edge, laying across the soft blue of the sky like torn decoupage. I shivered a little in my long white dress, kicking at the dirt with my cowboy boots and hiding my cold hands in the pockets of my white knit sweater. The dusty trail overlooked a grassy meadow, and I could see a few Swiss cabins and some trees gently adorning the majestic landscape while the snowy mountains towered above them.
I stared into the eyes of my husband. His face was worn and tired from years of raising a family, but his smile was still as bright as a child’s as he gazed lovingly back at me.
“We made it,” he said.
The children were already fidgeting restlessly. Timmy was wiggling in his suit like a worm and Grace had slowly started inching towards the rocks. They were too young to really understand, but for me it was a new commitment. A commitment to another ten years of life, and this time maybe we’d be more mature and ready for it. This time we might not rush into things. We’d bring our total selves and somehow it might be better.
“I love you for who you are and who you will become. In sickness and in health, I will love you unconditionally and forgive you without reservation. I promise to be a friend to you and to journey through this life together as your partner. I will listen to you and respect you. And as your equal, I will share my spirituality and the lessons I learn in life. I will lift you up when you can no longer stand and smile proudly as you achieve your dreams. I know that life has ups and downs, and I will be with you through all the highs and lows, so that we may one day look back at this great accomplishment: our lifetime commitment to each other.”
John slipped the ring over my finger. I had sent for it to be custom made. It had our original diamond in the middle and our children’s birthstones on either side. Ten small diamonds representing our ten years of marriage were set around the main diamond. And as John held my hand, the ring caught the morning light and sparkled.
In my mind it was beautiful. In my mind everything was perfect. I turned the ring in my hand as I looked out the airplane window. Why couldn’t he commit to me like I did him? I thought.
“Mommy,” Grace said, nudging my arm.
A tear streamed down my cheek.
“Are we ever going to see Daddy again?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said and took her hand. “But it will be different now.”