the gifts that live

Today would have been our silver. Twenty-five years ago, Chris and I got hitched at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Washington, Conn., a pretty stone church that my mother liked to call Our Lady of Perpetual Motion.

Three priests presided. Music was provided by one violinist (my mom), one trumpet player, two organists and a gospel choir. A friend snapped photos. My brother-in-law ferried us in Chris’s old Corolla to the reception, which was held in a church basement down the road that we rented for 60 bucks. The meal was pot luck. I’m not kidding. Pot luck. For entertainment, a buddy of ours played guitar. Stout-hearted friends took control of the kitchen, and washed, and washed, and washed.

I think of that day and wonder how we did it. How we managed to fall in love so wildly, so quickly, with such conviction. Four months after our first date, we got engaged. Again I’m not kidding. Four months. Six months after that, we were married. Who does that? How did we know it would stick?

I think of that day and marvel that Chris and I were ever so young. That so many now gone were still alive: my parents, Chris’s parents, my sister Lucy, my best friend Pam. And Chris! How alive he was. How his heart rumbled inside his chest. The man stood so straight he almost fell backward. He hugged me so hard I almost cracked. He smiled with his mouth, his eyes, his whole sturdy person, rocking on his heels with the rhythm of delight.

I think of that day and swell with gratitude. Chris gave me so much. He gives me so much still, his gifts growing with love long past his death. He gave me our three beautiful children. His dear, kind sisters and brothers, their husbands and wives. My three fine nephews. My new great-niece, an angel born three weeks ago.

Chris gave me my home: Had I not married a reporter for the Times Union, I wouldn’t have moved to Albany. He gave me all of my life here. All of my friends and coworkers. All of my neighbors. He gave me the Adirondacks. Camping. Stewart’s Ice Cream. Downhill skiing, which I would never have tried without him.

He gave me the lingering effects of his green thumb. The apple tree at the front of my house. The gardens, front and back. The spider plants, upstairs and down.FullSizeRender

Most of all, he gave me his love and all its light. That lingers, too. He gave me faith in the long-term bond between two people. He gave me an understanding of love as a deep, enduring and sacramental fact, as a truth forged together but greater than the both of us, as something worth fighting for every minute — because the minutes, if we honored them properly, could amass into decades.

And so they did. Twenty years I had with my good, strong, loving, constant husband, a brilliant man whose giant heart roared with the joy of living. He died, but his gift goes on forever.

26 thoughts on “the gifts that live

  1. I know we don’t know one another, but this just made me burst out crying.

    Your story is beautiful. People spend their whole lives looking for their Chris ad never find him. How lucky you are to have had a love like that in your life.

  2. Beautiful Amy. I am grateful for the way you continue to share Chris with us. What a treasure. What a gift. Thank you!

  3. Amy, so beautifully said. Love the “Woolworth” booth pictures of you, too. You look like your daughters!

  4. Well said as always Amy. I miss him all the time but as you said, he gave us all so many reasons to be greatful. What is your secret to figuring shit out? I’m not sure I will ever know, and I certainly wont figure a lot if it out. But one thing do I know is how proud to now officially hold the title of Uncle Chris. Let’s just hope I can live up to the namesake.

    -Ruby’s “Uncle Chris”

    • Oh, my dear Chris, you just made me cry — but tears of joy this time. Your uncle thought the world of you and your brothers, and he’d rejoice — he’s rejoicing — at seeing you with little Ruby. She’s lucky to have her Uncle Chris.

  5. Love how much you treasure the good you had and are able to hold onto it. I find your writing truly inspiring Amy.

  6. Lucky you, and also lucky him. Love never dies, and here is the proof. Happy 25th anniversary to you and yours. Life is – maybe – a potluck, and washing, washing, washing.

  7. my friend, Carol Coultry, and I both posted your words on our FB page…..lovelylovelyLOVEly memories you have shared – sending hope to you for all good things in your life

  8. Amy, as usual, you have said it so well. Although I am many years older than you, I have lived what you experienced. Love goes on and on. Death is not the end, only a separation for a while. Happy 25th – cherish your memories.

  9. Amy: Brava! I read “It Can’t Happen Here” long ago and again this year. A very disturbing book, parts of which are unfolding before us today. May the God(s) help us.

  10. Washing those dishes was my small way of keeping any glitches away from your sight that might have distracted from yours and Chris’s wedding day. Ps- just re-read “Faith iIn Words” this week

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