Emily’s Wedding Song to Me

By popular demand, following are the words of the song that Emily wrote to me for our wedding 34 years ago today. She sang it to me at the open mic at our reception after I recited “The Ballad of Ken and Emily,” the poem that tells the story of how we met. She still sounded like an angel when she sang it to me today (April 7 even though the blog post shows April 8 as the entry date).

I Take Thee

© by Emily Schuster-Wachsberger

I take thee my love

I promise to spend my life near you

And to be with you

I don’t know all the feelings

I don’t even know all the words

And I can’t express the feelings

All I know is that I love you

Yes, I know

This is right now

The time for us is now

And forever

Happiness is what you give me

Worthy is what I’ll try to be

In love is how my eyes shall see

All I know is that I love you

As we stand here all alone my love

With the people we hold most dear

We continue down our path of love

Telling them what we’ve already known so long

This path of life together is ours

As separates, as equals, together as one

I take thee my love

I will be there when you need care

Yes, I will always be there

Come to me when your world aches

Lean on me when you have to

Hold me tight and we won’t be scared

You are my life and I love you

Yes, I love you

And I love you

34 Amazing Years

My lucky number is 34. Today, as I celebrate the 34th anniversary of the day I delivered my vows to Emily, I couldn’t ask for more out of my life:

Emily,

Knowing you has changed the way I wake up in the morning.

You’ve given me a new word to define.

Feeling you has given me the strength to face the shadows that surround me and have the courage to see the dawn.

Loving you has meant a friendship stronger than the pressures and the fears of failure possibly can tear.

Emily, I love you. I want to spend my whole life with you. And although at times we’ll differ, I will always be here when you need me. That I swear.

Emily and I Celebrate Double Chai Meeting Date

Today is Emily’s and my double chai anniversary of the day we met: 36 years ago today in Lansing. The next day was Passover. Emily, being from New York, was going to observe it alone. I, being from Cleveland, was heading home to celebrate with my family. I invited her to come home with me. So the day after I met Emily, she met my family. We’ve never looked back. The experience proved to me that I can make good, lasting decisions on the spot.

You’re probably wondering, what do two bags of chai tea have to do with our anniversary. Nothing. Actually it’s “chai” as in RaCHmaninoff, not “chai” as in “CHerry pie.”

Chai is the Hebrew word for life. If you’ve ever been part of the ceremonial toast “l’chaim,” you’ve exclaimed “to life,” or, to express its multiple intentions, “to a life filled with mazel (good fortune), strong family ties, warm friendships, love between the two of you (if we’re talking marriage), many children, peace, harmony, a vacation once or twice a year, and a healthy retirement wouldn’t hurt.”

So why is today our double chai anniversary? Because Jews are also the original numerologists. Every letter of the Hebrew alphabet corresponds to a different number and adding the letters in a person’s name or birthday can determine his or her future. Words have numerical value, too, and you don’t mess with them.

“Chai” (ח י) is spelled by using the Hebrew letters ח (“chet”; or “het” if you can’t roll your tongue), the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and י (“yud”), the tenth letter. Using simple math, 8 + 10 = 18, and you have 18 being the number that represents life, and 36 being double chai. (Did you ever get an $18 check from a Jewish friend for a gift and wonder why he didn’t just round it off to $20? That’s why. Believe me, the good luck is worth more than the $2.)

We learned about chai during preparation for our wedding, whose 34th anniversary we will celebrate next week. I had written a poem that told the story of how we met and Emily had written a song expressing her love for me. We told our rabbi that we wanted to perform them at the ceremony. He said “Knock your socks off but I’m not coming on stage until you’re done because my portion is going to be 18 minutes.”

Who knew? Yom Kippur sermons may last forever but Jewish weddings are 18 minutes to get us off to a good start in our new life together (and, I think, to get us to the reception sooner). Well, it wasn’t a totally new life; we had been living together for two years, a week, and a day by that time.

But who’s counting?