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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


May through September is usually the time for weddings. The weather is fine outside, people are free to travel and venues everywhere prepare themselves for day after day of couples proclaiming their love and devotion to one another. As participants, it is an opportunity for us to put on our special wedding clothing, fancy jewelry, make up and prepare for some intense dancing and lots of noise.

I find weddings to be important events, not just because they are an opportunity to get out and be with friends and celebrate young love, but because they are important community lessons in optimism and in the great potential that exits in a life together. As the couple stands under the chuppah they have already small suitcases of experiences together which form the basis of their relationship. They know that they love one another and they enjoy each other's company. They probably have similar interests and have decided that they are looking for the same things in their lives. They are happy and in love and their future stands waiting before them.

Love is the theme of most weddings. I am a fan of weddings; of the dancing, the food and the joy that surrounds the events. Most of all though, I love the wedding speeches which are spoken under the wedding canopy. I listen carefully to these. They not only provide me with information about the couple, but they provide important marriage advice to couples married ten or twenty or thirty or forty or fifty years. In between weddings it can be easy to slip into patterns that are developed over the course of a marriage. Every couple has their own patterns; perhaps a lack of patience or understanding or not listening to one another or talking past one another. Sitting next to my husband at a wedding and hearing the words of a rabbi officiating is the best therapy to steer us back to the beginnings of a marriage and its roots. I will often hold my husband's hand during a wedding and squeeze it to reaffirm our own promises to each other made so many years ago.

Now for the hard part. It is hard to put into words forty two years of marriage. So, here is my own little speech under the chuppah some forty two years after our wedding.


Forty two years

Nights and days

Days and nights

Counted in

Piles of laundry on the floor

Evening walks down quiet streets

Series watched on television sets

Sport teams followed

Mountains climbed, phone conversations

Forty two years

How to measure?

A cup? A ruler? A yardstick?

Calculating minutes, experiences, smiles, tears?

Countless meals, hot cups of tea

Thunderstorms and snow

Pants too big, shirts too small

Padded shoulders, sleeveless shirts

Two door cars to mini-vans and back again

Seconds, minutes, hours

Days, weeks, months

years and decades pass

K'heref Ayin, like the blink of an eye

Looking backwards more than forward

Trying to remember details of children

When did this one walk?

When did he first smile?

Her first tooth?

Which position did he play in Little League?

Which piece did she play in the recital?

We graduated

From nap to nap

From Shabbat to Shabbat

From meal to meal

Mile to mile

From Bar Mitzvahs to graduations

From wedding to wedding

From toast to toast

Dance to dance

From phones on the wall to phones in pockets

We have faced

Dirty diapers

Vomiting kids

Bad jobs, good jobs

Moves from one community

to the next

Dogs, and ducks and birds and rabbits

Houses made into homes

Always together with love

We have seen loved ones

Forever depart this world

Some too soon, leaving a hole in our lives

We have experienced the mighty river which is family

Being there for each other

We have made mistakes, many in fact

Asked for forgiveness and more

We have prayed, traveled the world, built and destroyed

Sometimes angry, sometimes joyous

But always together

Our greatest gifts

Our children, our grandchildren

Grace our lives, bring color and light and nuance and joy

and dance and worry and pride and exaltation and calm and

always something to look forward to.....

To hope for, to have hope in.

After forty two years we can both look back and look ahead

Because of you.

You are the answer to the question

How to measure love

You are what that we could only dream of so many years ago

When we stood under the canopy

One rainy rainy night so long ago.

You are the dreams that we never even knew we could dream

The crown of our years, the song in our hearts

The endless measure of our love

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