I was going through my old journal, to realize that today four years ago, I was very busy trying to think of my wedding vow. I tentatively concluded to read a passage from Toni Morrison’s novel Jazz. I copied it on my journal, therefore, thinking that I would later personalize it. The matter of fact is that I did not read any wedding vow at my wedding. First, I was overwhelmed by so many miscellaneous things to be taken care of right before the wedding, and second, I was not sure how my guests would respond to the passage of my choice. I was afraid that they thought the passage was too dark for a wedding. To me, however, this is a much more powerful, eloquent message of love than saying I love you “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” (By the way, many people understand Toni Morrison as a writer who focuses on racial problems in America. She is, but at the same time, she is an amazing poet of love. I can’t believe that not many people know this. She writes so many passages of love to caress and to wretch my heart. More about this later…) I hope my husband reads my belated wedding vow.
He needs courage for that, but he has it. He has the courage to do what Duchesses of Marlborough do all the time: relinquish being an adored bud clasping its future, and dare to open wide, to let the layers of its petals go flat, show the cluster of stamens dead center for all to see.
…Not hating him is not enough; liking, loving him is not useful. I have to alter things. I have to be a shadow who wishes him well, like the smiles of the dead left over from their lives. I want to dream a nice dream for him, and another of him. Lie down next to him, a wrinkle in the sheet, and contemplate his pain and by doing so ease it, diminish it. I want to be the language that wishes him well, speaks his name, wakes him when his eyes need to be open. I want him to stand next to a well dug quite clear from trees so twigs and leaves will not fall into the deep water, and while standing there in shapely light, his fingertips on the rim of stone, his gaze at no one thing, his mind soaked and sodden with sorrow, or dry and brittle with the hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much (so brittle, so dry he is in danger of the reverse: feeling nothing and knowing everything). There then, with nothing available but the soaking or the brittleness, not even looking toward the well, not aware of its mossy, unpleasant odor, or the little life that hovers at its rim, but to stand there next to it and from down in it, where the light does not reach, a collection of leftover smiles stirs, some brief benevolent love rises from the darkness and there is nothing for him to see or hear, and there is no reason to stay but he does. For the safety at first, then for the company. Then for himself – with a kind of confident, enabling, serene power that flicks like a razor and then hides. But he has felt it now, and it may come again. No doubt a lot of other things will come again: doubt will come, and things may seem unclear from time to time. But once the razor blade has flicked – he will remember it, and if he remembers it he can recall it. That is to say, he has it at his disposal.