White Dog woke us by standing with her front paws on Steve's chest and her tail beating me in the face. I turned my head and saw we were surrounded and being stared at by the rest of the White Dog Army.
"Aren't you going to kiss or something?" White Dog demanded. Everyone leaned forward in anticipation as Steve stroked WD's head. "Not ME!" she told him. "Kiss momma! It is your anniversary!"
After the lip lock that took us back to the wedding reception so long ago of clanking glasses and hoots, White Dog sat at the foot of the bed; the others curled up around us. "Tell us." she demanded.
White Dog has heard the story of the day thirty-three years ago at a Boy Scout Camp in Michigan where Steve and I in the frosty morning forest pledged our commitment forever and always through all triumphs and challenges. Taiko was hearing this piece of history for the first time and the rest love to hear stories of the ancient times, even repeats.
We spoke of artist friends who had made colorful banners to hang among the autumn trees and told of musician friends who performed "our" song as well as personal homages specially composed for the day. Several friends read poetry written or chosen to reflect their thoughts and feelings on the day. Together we laughed at the remembered image of the minister, shivering in the cold open air, dressed in a bright blue ski parka, thermal hunting boots, and wearing gloves as he conducted the ceremony.
"You left out the part about almost running away," White Dog chided me. The others turned to look at me in horror. At one point as people were gathering in the glade and I stood alone in my garland of flowers and ivory dress, the totality of the commitment I was about to make hit me. Once I make a promise it is forever and will not be broken, that is just the way I am. I panicked worrying about the responsibility I was about to take on and for a brief moment calculated the distance to the ridge top and whether I could get up and over before being discovered. Just at that moment, in a pattern that has repeated itself a million times over the past 33 years when I am afraid, I felt Steve's hand slide into mine and squeeze. Suddenly, the fear was gone and I was filled with a confidence that with him at my side that we could do anything.
As I finished the story, YoYoMa said, so there was a feast or something to celebrate, right? Steve told him of the little Inn on the lake where we had a brunch reception and dancing on the lawn. Yo said, "So, why don't we start the celebrating with a breakfast feast...just for the memories of course."
"Dearest Ones," we told them, "we can think of no better way to celebrate our lives, our good fortune, and our love than to be with you all day ...sharing, feasting, and being together. Apple fritters and bacon for breakfast? And braised pork ribs with five-cheese macaroni with salad and pumpkin pie for dinner? And in between, well, like our life of the past 33 years, we will just see where it goes."