“Ten years.” I found myself contemplating these words in awe and disbelief last week. Time had pulled its usual trickery. The day before yesterday, I was walking down the aisle with my new wife – then there was something of a busy blur – and suddenly a decade had passed, as if instantaneously. Ten years is a long time. It’s the difference between being a 10-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man. A lot can happen in a decade.
Although the years flew by, it was not as though we were standing still. As I was counting years, I also began to count other things: four children, moving house nine times, moving countries, living in a variety of places that included West Cork, Crosshaven, Sherkin Island, Dublin and the Isle of Wight. We’ve had some great milestones in our careers and workaday lives in that time, certainly. But all that pales into total insignificance next to the joy of raising our children together.
The thing that leaves me most awestruck, looking back, is recalling seeing the children grow and emerge to reveal more of themselves. Each, day, each year they transformed by degrees, and by magical leaps, from fuzzy images on scans in the womb, to baby bumps, to babes in arms, to toddlers and then onward to smiling, thinking amazing children that brighten our lives every day.
I found much to be thankful for, looking back. There were hard times, as there always are in life, but it seemed that each year was better than the last. I struck gold with that wife of mine, that’s for sure. We married on a hunch, or perhaps it was a leap of faith. We had only been going out six months when we got engaged, spontaneously. I had no plan to propose. There was no ring at the ready in my pocket the day everything changed.
We were sitting alone in the chapel on the island in GouganeBarra on a clear winter’s morning, when I found myself inspired to ask the most profound question I have ever asked. Her answer to my outpouring of words was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, followed by a single word: ‘Yes’. We were married six months later, in that very chapel, surrounded by our loved ones. A year after that, our first child arrived.
The beginning of our marriage was a series of dramatic metamorphoses. All the more so as my wife also had to move countries and jobs to make our marriage possible. I had to turn down my dream legal job prosecuting war crimes with the UN to make it possible. Writing the email refusing that job offer still gives me a twinge when I think of it. Yet complete comfort immediately arrives when I think that if I had suddenly moved in the Hague at that critical juncture, we wouldn’t have married when we did, and the children wouldn’t have arrived as they did.
The kids love looking at pictures of our wedding day. They understand that this magical, sacred day led to their very existence. They sense the beauty of it.
Exactly now, ten years ago, we were on honeymoon in Italy’s Amalfi coast. We promised then that we would return there for out 10th anniversary, hopefully with children in tow. Perhaps ironically, arrival of our fourth baby in July put paid to that ambition. Who knows though, maybe we’ll get back for our 20th anniversary. After all, God willing, in the blink of an eye it will be 2028. Perhaps I should book now.