Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 1,493: Wedding 2.0: 10 Years and Counting

So on Saturday, I got married.

To my husband. Again.

It was wonderful. Magical. We are so grateful to everyone who celebrated with us. The weather was beautiful. We have a lot of beer left over. No matter. What else can I say? I don't have much to add, so I've posted below the ceremony that I wrote and read for the occasion (except for the poems that Augie, Lenny and Gabe read). I've never written a wedding ceremony before, and I wasn't really sure how it was supposed to go. It seemed like people were crying, so that's a good sign, I guess. Our professional photos aren't back yet, so I've included some of the ones that our friends took, which turned out great!

What a day. What a whirlwind two-day honeymoon. Or is it still a honeymoon, all the time? Well, not ALL the time. Things have happened.

My mom made a toast at the wedding. It was the only one. She said "here's to ten more. and ten more. and ten more. and ten more. and ten more. and ten more."

Everyone cried. Everyone except me.

Some things never change.

Wedding/Vow Renewal Ceremony, Katy and Gabe, October 11, 2014

Thanks to everyone who has come out to celebrate with us today. Damn, there are a lot of you! It’s wonderful to see everyone together. This vow renewal/wedding that we’re doing today is happening for a couple of reasons. The main one is that we have gone through a lot as a family over the last several years. The strange thing about these types of trials is that there’s nothing that marks the end of them, nothing that you really have to show for what you’ve been through but the fact of being able to still be. Early this year, in January, after I finished my treatments—again—we thought about celebrating. But then, we’ve been down that road before, and it seemed like it would be a better idea to celebrate the beginning of something happy rather than the end of something sad. So I thought, huh, we’ve got this tenth wedding anniversary coming up. Maybe we should throw a little party.

And then, well…this happened.

So that’s the main reason. We have learned not to wait to celebrate. We might not be the best planners, but we all know what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men. We do know the best people, and that’s what matters.

On that note, the first reading for our ceremony will be done by Augie. My brother gave me this poem for a Mother’s Day present back in 2010, just a few days after my first cancer diagnosis. Go ahead, Augie.

This Paper Boat
by Ted Kooser

Carefully placed upon the future,
it tips from the breeze and skims away,
frail thing of words, this valentine,
so far to sail. And if you find it
caught in the reeds, its message blurred,
the thought that you are holding it
a moment is enough for me.

So, on the one hand, we are here in order to pay homage to still being here, together, more or less in one piece, after everything that has happened. We have had to test our marriage vows years before we should have had to really think about what they meant. Life has been beautiful and it has been ugly. It has been easy and it has been hard. But love is a choice. It is a choice you make over and over again, and no one can talk you into it, and no one can talk you out of it. You can always make a different choice. You can get lost in the idea of how things “should” be, or, you can learn to love things as they are, in spite of, or even because of, the eccentricities.

Next, we will hear Lenny read a poem that succinctly gets to the heart of what marriage is, though you might not know it at first; this poem speaks to what you know about marriage after ten years of living it. Go ahead, Lenny.

I Could Take
by Hayden Carruth

I could take
two leaves
and give you one.
Would that not be
a kind of perfection?

But I prefer
one leaf
torn to give you half

(after these years, simply)
love’s complexity in an act,
the tearing and
the unique edges—

one leaf (one word) from the two
imperfections that match.

So we are here to celebrate love, in all its complexity and imperfection, to celebrate it with each other and with all of you. The next reason that we are here today is related to this day, specifically. Thirty years ago today, I was hit by a car when I was walking home from school. There are a few people here who remember that day. My mother and brother, obviously. Julie and Danielle. I came very close to dying. I was in a wheelchair, missed three months of school, and had to learn how to walk again. Every year at this time, you might see me walking around the neighborhood, kicking the leaves, grateful for the opportunity to still be able to do that. I celebrate what I think of as my second birthday every year on October 11. One of the reasons I wanted to get married in October was to have the opportunity to celebrate a different kind of occasion.

When I was young, I wrote a great college application essay about my car accident. I don’t remember much of what I said, except that I said that it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Like I said, I was young. I didn’t know what I was talking about. Of course it wasn’t the best thing. The most formative, maybe. But almost dying in 4th grade is not the best. It was the worst. Having said that, thirty years ago, I began to learn some things that would stay with me for the rest of my life. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called “28 Years Later, Still Walkin.” That was the essay I had always meant to write about that experience. In it, I said this:

In all these things, the epilepsy, the car accident, the cancer--I have been one of the lucky ones. There is nothing to atone for, nothing to prove. I can blend in anywhere. I am lucky. I am still here.

And so it goes. What I have learned is that not all wounds heal, and not all problems are solved, and sometimes realizations come too late. But even within all of that, it is possible to just stubbornly do things that you might not have been able to do, if fate had moved you an inch, if there had been a stick pointing up on the sidewalk, if you hadn’t tried, if you hadn’t done things anyway.

I’ve learned that it is possible to always be nine years old, waiting to fight in the leaves, convinced that the best colors in the crayon box are burnt sienna and marigold, laughing while you eat the candy that some stranger gave to you while you were wearing a costume, wondering how it will be next year, when things will be different, when life will open up around you like a promise, no matter how crooked or stiff or imperfect. I’ve learned to live inside that promise, the promise of turning ten. And so it goes, that I have turned ten again and again, 29 times, each one as glorious as the last.

Someone once said, "the thrill is gone." But for me, it isn't. For me, the thrill will always be there. May it be so for you.

That is why we are here today. To acknowledge the thrill, and to celebrate it. So thank you again for that.

Gabe will now read a poem that has special significance for us. This poem served as our “wedding favor” back in 2004. It is not a poem about getting married. It is a poem about eating peaches. Gabe?

From Blossoms
By Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

OK, we are almost there, people. Before we renew our vows, I’m going to read a poem I wrote for this occasion. But first, I need to say a few things. After ten years of marriage, life looks different than it did at the beginning. There are dozens of people who are here today who weren’t even born into the world when we got married. Many of our best friends have moved far away and couldn’t make it here today. Ten years ago, we had just moved to this neighborhood and didn’t know a soul. And now there are so many families from this area celebrating with us. But as new people have come into our lives, others have left. I’d like to take a moment to recognize the people we love who have passed away. I’d especially like to recognize those who were very much alive and with us ten years ago but have since passed on: My grandparents Marthagene and Linder. Gabe’s beloved Grandmother Harriette. My Aunt Karen. Our friends Sue and Janeen and Bobby. Please take a moment to think of those you think of most when you would like them to be with you.

Of course, while some have left, there are others who are still here. Props to those who came to the first Jacob Sterritt wedding and came back for more! Raise your hand if you were at our wedding back in 2004. For those who were there, you remember that not everything went as planned. It was 38 degrees and raining. The cake almost didn’t get delivered. And, of course, there was that car accident. How appropriate, right? Some teenager went for a joyride in the parking lot of the community development corporation where we got married, and she managed to hit three cars, including the car of my best childhood friend, my boss at the time, and one of my coworkers.’ That didn’t stop us—of course not.

When I sat down to write a poem for today, I couldn’t think of what to say. I have said most of what I wanted to say about love and marriage and hardship in my blogs. One of the things that happens when I sit down to write is that I acknowledge all of the ways that I am cheating. I feel that I have never really written anything at all. The only thing I’ve done is pay attention to what other people say and do, and write about it. If I am not particularly interesting, other people definitely are. And so, I wrote a poem about the girl who was driving the car in that parking lot that day. Sometimes, our decisions have consequences that are bigger than we could have realized at the time, and it takes quite a leap of faith to get us through.

Superstitions for a Tenth Wedding Anniversary
By Katy Jacob
For Gabe

Imagine being 15, going for a joyride,
finding yourself in the parking lot of a community center
on a day that’s colder and wetter than it should be,
when the pavement is slicker than any you’ve experienced.
Imagine losing control as you circle the lot
and suddenly begin spinning wildly,
crashing into not one, not two, but three different cars.

Imagine your mother’s car stopping, your heart sinking,
as the people come rushing out of the building
you had assumed was closed.
Everyone is in their Sunday best, but it is Saturday,
and there is a man who seems to be in charge,
but only because he’s there, when other people aren’t.
Imagine your confusion.

Just think about what she must have been thinking about
as the reception continued inside
and the newly married couple looked at each other
shaking their heads slightly, hoping their car was safe,
since the other one had just been broken into yesterday
and someone once told them that omens were real.

If it were you, you might never be more
in need of your forgotten superstitions.
It wouldn’t seem possible that this could end well.
This day should have gone differently,
or it should have been a different day,
or a different car or a different parking lot
or a different city or a different you.

If it were you, you might not be able to stop yourself
from examining all of the other possibilities
and paths you could have taken, but didn’t.
And so, if it were you, slowly emerging into the October sleet,
you might be left with nothing but your best magic.
Just imagine it: You don’t know what will happen.
You hear your mother’s voice, but she isn’t there.
Someone somewhere is giving you advice:
Accept what you’ve done, and what you are about to do.

But not before you close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Count to three.
Cross your fingers.
Knock on wood.
Pick up that shiny penny.
Make a promise.
Say you will.

OK, I think now we’re reading to get married again. Augie, bring the rings over, please. Also, I'm going to ask Amy to join us. Amy and I have known each other since college. She is a legitimate clergy person and is going to help us do the formal part of reading our vows now. Thanks, Amy!


I take you, Katy, to be none other than yourself. As my wife, loving you now and always. I will love you when we are together, and when we are apart. When life is peaceful, and when it is in disorder. When I am proud of you, and when I am disappointed for you. I will honor your goals and dreams, and help you to fulfill them. From my heart I will seek to be open and honest with you, and to make your life easier, rather than harder. I say these things to you with the whole of my being.


I take you, Gabe, to be none other than yourself. As my husband, loving you now and always. I will love you when we are together, and when we are apart. When life is peaceful, and when it is in disorder. When I am proud of you, and when I am disappointed for you. I will honor your goals and dreams, and help you to fulfill them. From my heart I will seek to be open and honest with you, and to make your life easier, rather than harder. I say these things to you with the whole of my being.

Then, we kiss. And let the party start.


  1. Beautiful - wonderful words - so glad it turned out to be a very beautiful day to celebrate your love

  2. So Beautiful! Your story, your love, your life, your struggles, your winning, your beautiful family, your love that is Healing, your Happily Ever After... Hugs from a TNBC sister, Angellinda

  3. Beautiful. I wish I could have been there.

    NO, REALLY. We need to talk. :)