Share this article

print logo

Family gives us?a reason to live

This summer, I attended seven weddings in three months. Between traveling, lodging and gifts, I spent nearly $2,000. I'm not complaining, though; I'm happy to celebrate my friends' happiness. But if this marriage movement continues – and if I'm still single by 35 – I'm seriously considering having my own party, complete with registry. But I'm hopeful it won't come to that.

The thought of getting married made my stomach do complicated things just two years ago. There was no reason for my cynicism – my parents had the ideal marriage. They married right after high school and had the time of their lives in the 10 years that followed. They created a home, traveled and spent ample amounts of time with friends.

"We felt good, looked great and laughed often," my mother has often reflected.

Due to her own difficult childhood, she admitted that having children was not a priority to her at 29. She was afraid she was going to be a bad mother. "But your father wanted you so much, and he was my life. How could I say ‘no' to him?"

Unfortunately, she had a miserable delivery. She was in labor for 22 hours, and was at risk for seizures after my birth. While Dad played with me in the nursery, my mother spent two days in a dark room. Subsequently, I was the only child.

This was just the beginning of our turbulent relationship. Now, at 27, I realize it's because we're too similar: stubborn and creative, fiercely independent and greedy of our alone time. Dad was a pillar for our family, at times a wall between my mother and me. He was strong-bodied and strong-willed. Indefatigable. Indestructible. These are words that defined him.

He was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 2001. He went into remission five years later. "Thank God," he joked with a relative. "Laurie and Sarah would kill each other." And we almost did when he died in 2007.

But with time came mending and growing. We learned to forgive and forget – to communicate. Now our relationship is better than it has ever been.

I was home for a friend's wedding in September. After my mother picked me up from the train station, we sat on the back porch of her house until dark, drinking tea and talking. She reminisced about one afternoon when I was 2. She, Dad and my grandmother took me to a playground. While my mother pushed me on a swing, they sat on a bench and watched.

"I'll never be able to thank Laurie enough," Dad told my grandmother. "If something ever happens to her, I have a reason to live."

My mother teared up at the memory. I recall him chasing a squealing me around the playground. Maybe it was that day.

I am recently single again. But I'm strangely no longer cynical.

Perhaps it's all the weddings I've been to this year – I'm love-logged by my friends' vows. Or maybe I truly am at the age when people settle down. Whatever the reason, the gardens within me lay soft and burnished beneath the peace of my awakening. For better or worse, I want what my parents had.

"Could you imagine being childless now?" I asked my mother that night on the porch.

She shook her head, "Absolutely not." She said I gave her a reason to live.

Sarah T. Schwab, who grew up in Eden and now lives in New York, shares her thoughts at www.SarahT?