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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 4-29-22 – In Celebration of Deep Connection

“The thrill of falling in love is often the thrill of being loved; the thrill of marriage is the thrill of loving someone for the rest of your life. Each day - and year - that passes is a triumph of this act of loving.” ― Susan Waggoner

This weekend 29 short years ago, Julie and I got married! Our big day was at the Sun Inn in

Bethlehem. It was an intimate ceremony, we had about 30 guests and were wed by District Justice and friend Diane (Repynack) Martin who, sadly recently passed. It was a nearly perfect day. We gathered together in a small room on the first floor of the Inn and exchanged vows, Julie’s dad, walked her in and we gathered in a circle. Then, we went upstairs and had a wonderful meal with friends and family. Musicians played acoustic music. I say nearly perfect because Julie ended up spiking a fever and by the next morning had entirely lost her voice. She was wilting yet smiled through the day anyway.

If we had a redo, I would do everything the same but ask the forces of the universe to put off that fever Julie got for 72 hours, or perhaps spare her from it. We did a getaway on our wedding night at a hotel, and my mom and dad generously offered to spring for room service for us. It was largely used for hot tea and comfort foods. At one point when I was out of the room, hotel staff called to check on us and all Julie could vocalize was a series of hissing sounds. She could not talk. Julie had been watching a PBS show All Creatures Great and Small, and apparently there was a sad scene in which a vet had to put down an animal. I got back to the room just after she got off the phone and Julie was crying and hissing. It was all quite humorous reflecting back on that first weekend of marriage!

We had a very special honeymoon a month later. Julie had studied at the Glasgow School of Art while she was at Tyler. She vowed to bring back whoever she wed. That was me. I was on board for the adventure. A month after our wedding, we went to Scotland and toured the highlands. It was a momentous trip. We were both interested in neolithic things and Scotland has all of these stone circles, cairns and standing stones. We have returned a few times. I am hoping to go back for our 30th to be in our special place. Unsolicited advice to young people would be to travel as a priority, if you can.

Our first date was after I helped her move to her New Street apartment. She showed an unnerving talent for Pictionary at a gathering of friends I crashed. I weaseled myself into joining because I knew on seeing that smile that I could look at it for the rest of my life. As I noted in this post, the second time I took her out, 32 years ago, the relationship nearly ended right there before it got off the ground when I pulled up in my fire engine red 1979 Chrysler Cordoba with fine (white) Corinthian leather. I had bought it for $100 and it had served its purpose at one point as a police undercover car. She saw it and for some reason didn’t want to get in. I am really glad she did. I am eternally grateful she tolerated that car and a few of my other disposal chariots on the road during those early life years.

I recall dancing outside with her during thunderstorms, dinners with her dear friend Marc and so many wonderful memories of those early years. Julie would end up at Thomas Jefferson and have a career in cytotechnology and eventually return to her first love, art. I was in my early years in a life of service to persons experiencing addiction. She accepted my recovery. It is a bigger deal than you may imagine. One can be isolated socially when in recovery as people either become self-conscious about their own use or have some underlying bias about people who have experienced addiction. It is unfortunately common and those of us in recovery know it when we experience it. Julie accepted who and what I was with no judgment and open arms. She still does!

Pictured above is photographic evidence we were both mere puppies at one point. Our first weekend away together, ever. This photo was taken in the winter of 1990, I was 25 and looked 15. Julie radiates beauty. You can see the smile that continues to break my heart all these years later. That weekend in Cape May was the start of a huge adventure. We tend to be people who go back to our special places. Winter at the shore in Cape May is one of those places. The weekend ended with us getting back to her apartment, me offering to take out her stinky garbage and the New Street Radish Miracle of February 1990, to this day my greatest physical feat, unplanned and harrowing as it was.

One of the things I recall just before getting married is hearing a lot of negative feedback from people about the institution of marriage. That has not been my experience at all. We are a good team. Over the decades, we have had our highs and lows as any couple experience. I am still incapable of folding a fitted sheet to Miller specifications, but she still loves me, and I still love her. We have laughed more often than we have cried together over the years. That is a good measure of things in my humble estimation.

I am grateful she said yes. I am grateful she still does! This weekend, it will be a special dinner in Philadelphia. I am grateful for each and every year I have had the privilege to be with the love of my life.

What are you grateful for today?

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