Thursday, September 3, 2009

"With This Ring, I Thee..."

Most people would finish this with “wed,” but Kevin has never been like most people. When we were walking through the St. Michael Church parking lot on our way to Mass, Kevin reached over and grabbed my butt. “Honey!” I said. “We’re in a church parking lot!”     

“Nobody saw,” he assured me. “And remember, with this ring,” he said pointing to his gold wedding band, “I thee get to do stuff.”
I rolled my eyes, and we both laughed. Now all he has to do is show me his ring with a certain mischievous grin in his eye, and I chuckle.
I love that we still laugh and flirt often just like we have since we became a couple over ten years ago. Some of the hilarious moments we shared as boyfriend and girlfriend are still part of our lives.
For example, we don’t blow kisses to each other the same way most people do. Not since Kevin’s amusing attempt to blow me a kiss one evening years ago. He was visiting from Rochester and staying in my mom’s finished basement. I kissed him goodnight and was about to go upstairs to my room. I stopped at the door to wave and turn the light off.

It cracked me up when he tried to blow me a kiss. The send-off sound was more of a “FFFFFFFFFFFFf!” Of course, I called him on it, and we’ve used it ever since. We’ve both gotten some strange looks at times, when we’re on our cell phones and say, “love you, goodbye” followed by a kiss, and his signature “fffffff” send-off.
It’s hard to believe that five years ago on September 4, Kevin and I stood before God, our families, and friends at Church of the Epiphany and professed our love for one another and our commitment to spend the rest of our lives glorifying God as a married couple.
Our wedding was the last time my dad and all three of his brothers were together in one place. I’m glad the four of them spent those few days talking, hugging, laughing, dancing, and praying.
Kevin and I had a wonderful time, in part, because we could tell our family and friends were having as much fun as we were. Every person in the room was laughing when they saw my uncles doing the Macarena at our very casual rehearsal dinner fiesta.
At our wedding, we felt the love and blessings of our family and friends filling us up with joy and infusing us with pearls of hope. I’m sure the prayers said for us that day and since have helped us through the past five years when we experienced things getting worse before they got better, when we were far poorer than we thought we’d ever be, when we suffered through periods of sickness rather than health, and when anxiety and despair threatened to consume us.
It is truly the grace of God and the gift of faith given to each of us that have brought us to this point. When people tell me that it’s the eighth year of marriage, or the tenth, or the twenty-sixth that are really challenging, I have to wonder and do my best not to worry.
In the past five years, we’ve had quite a bit to deal with that has caused us stress and tested our relationship. We’ve had to deal with the things newlyweds usually face: moving into a new place together, starting new jobs, dividing up the chores, getting used to sharing everything and making decisions large and small as a team.
But we’ve also had a few more significant challenges thrown in. We’ve had to help each other through major illnesses, surgeries, and medical procedures which led to financial trauma. Kevin’s mother and his father died in the first two years we were married. My father James Lester Niermeyer entered hospice in November 2007 and passed away August 10, 2009. Last year my grandmother was admitted to hospice at age 84 after close to two months in the hospital, and we were told it would be a matter of days. Again, thank God those “practicing medicine” were way off on their prediction of the day and the hour she’d be on her way to Heaven. She’s now happily living at St. Joseph’s Little Sisters of the Poor. She’s made lots of new friends, is back to reading often, goes to daily Mass, and plays bridge as often as possible.
The last week leading up to our fourth anniversary we went to the funeral of my dad’s oldest brother, Bob Niermeyer, whose sudden death shocked us all. We wanted to be there to support the family and also represent my father who wasn’t well enough to travel. Now Kevin’s met most of my extended family, though, unfortunately, it was at my uncle Bob’s then my dad’s funerals under a year apart that brought us all together.
In five years, Kevin and I have experienced miracles and blessings too numerous to count. My mom has extended her love, compassion, forgiveness, and optimism to each member of our family, thereby continuing to be the strongest link. My dad and I became closer, and I had the privilege of helping to care for him and hold his hand as he passed from this life into the next. My dad and grandmother have exhibited such strength, courage, and faith in the face of illness, it absolutely amazes me. Kevin and I have seen firsthand the power of prayer through miraculous healing in mind, body, and spirit.
We were blessed we could attend the marriage of my sister Mary to Jordan and welcome him into our family. (He just recently completed his full initiation in the eyes of the Niermeyer clan by reaching new heights.)
We’ve gotten to see my youngest sister Theresa transform into a teenager and had the pleasure of watching her dance in several different performances.
We’ve had the joy of loving the boys for whom I was nannying , Hank and JG, as if they were part of our own family. I’ve had the privilege of spending time caring for little people and tutoring older children.
Kevin and I have made incredible friends through our involvement at church and with Cursillo. These friends who have loved us like family listen to and encourage us, lift us up in prayer, and give us hope. Members of our Cursillo family showed up with groceries, money, and even bought us a car (that I affectionately named Rosie Lou) during the months when a series of unfortunate events left us in financial peril.
We’ve experienced the joy of helping others by giving to church, volunteering, raising money and getting baby items for The Pregnancy Resource Center, taking part in 40 Days for Life vigils, donating my first car Lou to a friend in need, sponsoring a child in Honduras named Deysi through Child Fund International, regularly helping a homeless couple in our area, writing notes of encouragement, and lifting others up in prayer.
Of course we are grateful for having a decent place to live, food to eat, clean water to drink, clothes to wear, work to do, health care, skilled medical professionals, and we appreciate very much that God has supported the habit Kevin and I have had for years of LAUGHING TOGETHER (an acronym for the ingredients that make up our relationship).
These past five years, we’ve been living proof of the inscription on the inside of our wedding bands: Romans 8 which reminds us that “all things work for good for those who love God,” (Romans 8:28) and that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Romans 8:38-39
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