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Monday, September 22, 2008

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The longest journey

It was our eleventh anniversary on Friday, and we watched our wedding video in its entirety for the first time. All four of our parents stood with us on that day. In less than six years, three of them were dead, and we never could bear to watch it.

Friday night, while the pizza was baking, I walked back to our bedroom and found the cassette where I've kept it for eleven years, in a suitcase, next to the ream-deep stack of email transcripts that records our courtship. We called the kids into the family room, piled up on the sofa, and hit play.

It was so much more sweet than bitter, though I wept to see my father walking down the garden path with me. I was amazed by all I'd forgotten about it. Mostly I was struck by what babies Patrick and I still were, even though we were just shy of 35 and 28, and going into our second marriages. And I thought the hard part of life was all behind us!

That made me smile and cry. As did the moment when my father took the stage at the reception, and read this poem that he wrote me when I left Newfoundland, nearly thirteen years ago:

To Kyran in Full Flight

The borders you must cross to get to Mexico
are nothing compared to the borders
you’ve crossed to get where you are.

Going toward yourself
is the longest journey of all.

There are instruments to help you
get to San Miguel de Allende.
But the southbound bird winging
its way south without map or compass
holds within its heart some knowing
unknown even to itself.

Your lover awaits your arrival
in full knowledge that you have been
his destiny all along. The artist
who painted your portrait portrayed you
as a bird imprisoned on its perch.
Your expression there –
the grim anticipation of flight.

Now (fold upon fold of that feathered grip let go)
you’ve taken to wing. Now you have no instruments
to guide you. And now your destination
has nothing to do with Mexico.

The horizons tumble away as they leap-frog
forever forward in front of you. Your journey
is the journey that has no end.

I will miss you. And I will envy your lover
his destiny under the ancient Aztec sun.
But as long as you travel the endless skyways
to (and ever toward) your heart’s delight
I’ll be there with you, soaring somewhere
alongside – winging it all the way.

Al Pittman, copyright held by the estate of Al Pittman, all rights reserved.

That poem was included in his last published collection, Thirty for Sixty.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmm. Two weeks ago we watched some of my daughter's baby videos for the first time. I wept to see my mom and dad, both now gone. I wept to see the pure love they held for me and my daughter. The love spoken only in their unwavering gaze. I didn't see it before.

Isn't life amazing.

2:06 PM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

I love this post!

3:23 PM  
Blogger Jule Ann said...

It was five years before I watched our wedding video. When I finally did, I discovered that the uncle who was doing the video had wandered around talking to people on camera while we were getting ready. He talked to my dad, who had since died. He asked him if he had any words of wisdom for the new couple. And there, tucked away where I hadn't thought to look was a jewel of wisdom from the wisest man I knew. You can bet it brought tears to my eyes. This post brought that feeling back.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

What a gift your father gave you. You must feel so loved. So blessed.

Happy Anniversary.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

How lovely... I hope someday to be able to watch my wedding video without cringing at my mother's breakdown on the altar (she had recently left my father).

10:17 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Happy anniversary to you and Patrick.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Happy Anniversary!

I drank way too much that night and vaguely remember your father speaking. I would love to see the video sometime.

It's such a contrast to my father in law, notoriously a man of few words, who walked up to me after the service, shook my hand and said, "I hope it works."

6:41 AM  
Blogger Misbehaving said...

Happy Anniversary.....both of you!

7:09 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Sigh... How lovely that you have such works of his to read, forever... Glad you were able to watch it again.

Happy Anniversary! Our 11th was this weekend, too.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Having been through a very similar experience as this one you describe, I know the emotions you must have been feeling as you relived that day and realized, without knowing it then but understanding it now, how fast life comes at us.

A wonderful post! Cheers to your father.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Happy Anniversary Kyran and Patrick!
I remember meeting your dad once but I was very young and all I remember was looking at him from across the room and thinking, "Wow" - I was overwhelming shy and humbled to be in the same room as the great Al Pittman. This poem reminds me why I felt that way.
What a stirring gift for his baby girl! I also believe he "gifted" his incredible talent to you! (Yeah, kinda sucking up but it needs to be said! Ha!)

1:52 PM  

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