My husband and I will celebrate twenty-four years of marriage on May 17th, which is tomorrow.
Bruce, as most of my friends and co-bloggers know, was my professor before he was my husband. I got free tuition when I married him. He was thirty-four and insecure. I was twenty-nine and damaged. On one of our early dates, we went to the temple. I quietly prayed that we would be able to do sealings after the endowment session–a rather odd request, I know, but it seemed terribly romantic.
So there we were in the Celestial Room, and a worker entered and quietly announced, “We need couples to do sealings. Can anyone here help?” I congratulated God on his quick work, and told Bruce we ought to accept the invitation. He looked panic-stricken. But he said yes. Then, on the way to the sealing room, he nervously told the sealer that we weren’t married. “Oh,” the sealer said, “that doesn’t matter. Aren’t you going to get married?”
“That’s not decided,” said Bruce. He was starting to sweat.
“You look like you should be married,” said the sealer casually.
Soon, there we were, at our wedding rehearsal in the temple.
Bruce was so frightened of marriage that I believe he had to actually picture himself as a groom, and had to put a real face on his bride. As it happened, my face wasn’t what he had long imagined. He had wanted an olive-skinned, dark-haired beauty, not a pale redhead with barely visible eyebrows. I suspect I met only a few of the qualities he had on his checklist (he’s never told me). Nonetheless, there I was, and we were rehearsing.
Today, the day before our twenty-fourth anniversary, we just returned from the temple, where we served as the witness couple. No nervousness now. Bruce is a bishop, and I am still a redhead. I think if he made out a new checklist, it would be completely based on me. That’s because I’d write it. Marriage works that way–a few little compromises, and sometimes the complete surrender of your own agenda or the way you had always imagined things would be.
I think rehearsals are good things. I consider that I’m rehearsing for death as I stand at the veil–but a death that has no fear or pain attached, only faith and hope and eternal promise. I am rehearsing for glorious roles beyond this life as I put on my ritual clothing. Of course, the rehearsal is nothing like the real thing. Just as “playing house” only hints at what family-making really involves (“Let’s make this really interesting and pretend that the baby has an eating disorder!”), so our other rehearsals perhaps accomplish only one truly important thing: they allow us to imagine ourselves in a place or a relationship that is otherwise beyond our comprehension, perhaps even beyond our will.