Marriage: Year Fifteen

Fall 2017: Learning about Settling

We buy what Brandon affectionately calls our “death house” – forget the forever home business, this is the place we’ll die someday. It’s unlike any other house, with weird pockets of weirdness tucked into corners of weirdness. We love it.

The place we buy is where we want to stay. Shedding the burden of “what’s next” is a strange new relief for me. This is it. This is what we’re doing. This right here. This is where we’re going to be. Right here. This is where our children will return when they are grown with their young children, return to visit us and Izzy, who will by then be the world’s longest living dog because she will never die of course.

Every single step and turn earlier in our marriage came with a what if packaged with a what next. When this is over, we would say, we’ll do something different, go somewhere else, lift up roots and transplant again into new soil or just rest awhile til we discern the next destination. And then off we went again.

But now, we’re certain of what we hope for. Certain. Returning to Ashland is many things but what it marks in my heart is a firm renewal that we’re here, together – this marriage – this love – this family – this world we’re building together.

This is what I have been waiting for, this. This hope. This steady rise, this cup overflowing, this contentment, this open space, this peace, this faith, this rest, this firm ground.

And it’s here now. It’s here. Right here.

Summer 2018: Learning How We See the World

It’s warm and sunny with a slight breeze on Punderson Lake when we decide to take our boys canoeing. We’re camping, and Lydia is with her grandparents in Akron. Elvis and I paddle slowly on the water, gliding over the surface, alternating strokes on the left and the right. We glide near the lily pads and watch for signs of fish.

“This is so relaxing,” I sigh. “Oh, look! A crane!” I point towards what I assume is a Great Blue Heron, because I love the Great Blue Heron. Blue, solitary, gawky… it is my spirit animal.

“This is exhausting,” Brandon says.

Nearby Henry and Brandon smack the surface of the water with their ores. The wind is gusting. They keep getting tangled in seaweed. Henry isn’t paddling with any kind of regularity. It’s a struggle.

We steer our canoes toward the opposite shore. I snap a few pictures of Elvis in the bow of the boat and answer a call from my mom from the canoe. We paddle along some more.

“Oh no!” Splash. Elvis and I turn in the direction of Brandon and Henry who have just gone overboard into the water. The canoe rights itself, Henry bobs in the water, and Brandon begins swimming toward him.

Elvis cannot stop laughing. He is laughing his head off. Laughing harder than maybe I’ve ever heard him laugh. “Shhh, don’t let Dad hear you laughing,” I tell Elvis as we paddle toward the overboard crew of our second ship.

I hold the canoe steady. Brandon climbs back in. We help Henry pull himself up on the edge of the canoe and back in the boat.

“Well,” Henry says, “That was an experience.”

I laugh. “Yes, that was an experience. I bet you’re cooled off now!”

Brandon’s certain they almost drowned. “That’s the last time I’m ever going canoeing.”

“Oh, it was fun!” I say.


I am the silver lining to Brandon’s storm clouds. He is the reality check in my fantasy land. Some days, it drives us nuts about each other. Other times, it’s our saving grace.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

One thought on “Marriage: Year Fifteen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: