So, when Greg and I first got engaged, instead of an engagement ring (we were pretty poor) we gave each other a simple, framed photograph of a pair of trumpeter swans, soaring side by side through a deep blue sky. Right now, it's hanging in the hall right off the kitchen, and I walk past it several times a day. For thirty years it has hung in our homes, from one end of the continent to the other, through some very rocky times and of course, many easy and wonderful days, and I've never let it become invisible to me. I stand in front of it often, and remind myself how romantic it is. I let it remind me of the unbreakable commitment, the covenant Greg and I made to each other when we knelt together at an altar in the Salt Lake Temple so many years ago.
Once, when we were in Oiso, Japan on business, a young man, probably about 23-years-old, came up to me during our lunch break and ask if he could sit down at our table. In his gracious Japanese manner and halting English he told me that he hoped to marry someday, but he was afraid. His own parents were no longer married. Could he ask, please, if I could give him any advice? How was it, please, that Mr. Link and I had made "such a lasting marriage of happiness?"
I could see the sincerity and the hopefulness in his eyes. I could also see the fear. So we talked about swans and promises. We talked about covenants--serious promises that invite and include God in a marriage. I assured him that if he would work to become a man who knew how to keep his word--not only with himself, but with God, he would also become able to recognize the woman who also knew how to give and keep her word. It would take work, but if he would be careful to find his swan, the two of them could confidently create "such a lasting marriage of happiness."
I have been stunned at the number of marriages that implode following the loss of a child. But now that I've lived under the stress that such a loss places on a heart, I've come to understand the pain behind that statistic. And I realize how blessed I am to have found my swan. I was reminded of this blessing on Saturday, when Greg volunteered to be the one to clean out Gavin's car. When he came back into the kitchen it was obvious he'd been crying, that the job had been just as painful for him as it would have been for me. But he did it anyway. He did it because he wanted to save me from that pain. He did it because in covenant with God, he had promised he would love me, and take care of me--forever. Even if the sky got darker than he'd ever imagined it could and the winds blew harder than he'd ever imagined he could bear. He did it because he gave his word to me and to God that he would fly at my side, through any storm, forever.
I am so blessed.
Photo: National Geographic