We have been married five years now, and all week I have been thinking about the strangeness of time. In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years already. And in other ways, it seems like we’ve been a team much longer.
As I’ve been pondering how long five years is, this is the best I’ve come up with: Five years isn’t very long. And five years is long enough.
Five years isn’t very long.
It’s not long enough to get old together, not long enough to be the adorable gray-haired couple at the restaurant next to us. They haven’t uttered a word to each other since they sat down, but I get the feeling they’ve had more conversation with their eyes than I’ve managed with all my many words in the past hour.
Five years isn’t long enough to have more years behind us than we have ahead of us, Lord willing. It’s not long enough to know what legacy we’ll leave behind. We saw your grandpa last week, surrounded by his thirteen children, many of whom are gray-bearded grandfathers themselves now. “Grandma Sheila would have loved this,” he said, shaking his head in wonder at the hundred-plus progeny surrounding him, all because he married his high school sweetheart seventy years ago.
Five years isn’t very long.
And yet five years is long enough.
It’s long enough for you to load my toothbrush 2,000 times, long enough to put 60,000 miles on our car, long enough to fall asleep partway through 200 Friday-night movies with you. It’s long enough to attend seven weddings and two funerals and a dozen family vacations together.
Five years is long enough to make ice cream together and walk to the library together and ride our bikes together (you at half your normal speed). It’s long enough to laugh until we almost lose bladder control over things that would make no sense to the general population, and long enough to cry a jar full of tears . . . some in spite of each other and some because of each other.
Five years is long enough to navigate who is going to make dinner and pay the bills and empty the dishwasher, even if it’s not the way our parents did it or the way we figured it out so neatly out on our premarital class worksheets. And it’s long enough to renegotiate when things fall apart because one of us is writing a book or adjusting to a new job.
Five years is long enough to say goodbye to the first place we lived together. It’s long enough to buy a house, and long enough to bail water out of the basement of said house while wondering what, exactly, we’d gotten ourselves into. It’s long enough to dig out a tiny garden, and long enough to eat the first tomato we planted with our own hands.
Five years is long enough to win and fail, to hope and despair, to wait and wonder, to break and heal. It’s long enough to sing and forget the words and remember them again.
Five years is long enough to know that although I loved you with my whole heart the day I said “I do,” I somehow love you more now than I did then. Something mysterious has happened along the way: I still love you with my whole heart, but it turns out loving you has broadened the borders of my heart.
Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. . . . The more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper.
Five years isn’t very long. But it’s long enough to know that five years isn’t long enough.
Happy fifth, my love. Here’s to many more years of the Daniel and Stephanie Team.