Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Package

Nielson family December 2006

Our religion centers on the belief that because of Jesus Christ's atonement we can be as families forever in this life and in the next. Our marriages are labeled eternal, meaning that they do not end when death does us part. Our promises and commitments to loved ones hold an everlasting claim if we choose (because we are all about agency too).

Today was Stephanie and Christian's anniversary. A day to celebrate their perpetual union, which currently means more than ever. Along with the children, Lucy, Chup and I spearheaded a little surprise party in Steph's hospital room. We were to present a package of collective efforts.

It included:

  • Claire's latest spelling test where she braved the "challenge words" and did very well. Except, why does there have to be an "a" in sugar. It could just be sugr, right?
  • Jane's choice of chocolate truffles. Jane is an advocate of celebratory food.
  • One of Reachel Bagley's hand-picked stylish wool hats.
  • A card signed by all four children. (Some by proxy.)

There had been a short attempt at taking the girls to see their mother last week, but this was the first time the whole family assembled. All of the fruits of Mr. and Mrs. Nielson together for the first time in four months. A harvest in the hospital room.

We cheered the anniversary, presented our gifts, and exchanged exclamations. Gigs is so big! Ollie is so big! I love you! I love you! I love you!

"Eight years." said Steph, crying after the package had been distributed.

"Honey, in eight years we've done it all." Christian replied.

I can't explain the various emotions involved in this sort of reunion, on this sort of a day. A snowy day, a date on the count-down to Christmas, an anniversary. There is sweet. There is sad. There is hope. There is change. Fear and love, casting eachother out-and-back.

The social worker warned me.

"After a day like this adults will feel tired, children will feel energy." She handed me some energy-outlet toys for the car ride home. Three toys survived the 1-15 voyage. One penguin had his top hat gnawed off, but that is because Gigs is a realist. At home I opted for a grilled cheese sandwich dinner and spent the night watching Claire, Jane and Ollie perform silly plays with musical numbers and punchy dialogue while I melted on the couch.

I am still thinking about eight years of marriage. Eight years with an infinity to go. Thinking about how our spirits are sculpted by endless relationships. Fathers, mothers, children. How Ollie recognized his mother who is unrecognizable. How after we left the room Gigs asked Lucy to take him back.


(Which did us so good, and made Gigs a new hero in my heart.)

I will look forward to this day next year. And the year after that. We will celebrate the timeless package of loved ones that we've been given. A date to thank God for keeping this family together for mortality, with a promise of eternity to come.

Happy Anniversary Nie and Mr. Nielson!