The first and most basic is that we have been given another day of life.
The second is that in our Jewish tradition and faith it is the eve of the New Year and the beginning of the Days of Awe, that period in which we celebrate the arrival of the new, reflect on how we have fallen short, or, in the words of Rabbi Al Axelrad, missed the mark, and work to begin anew in our chosen areas of passion and commitment.
And the third is that on this day, 13 years ago, Dunreith, Aidan and stood together under a tree that had three roots that came together at the base and became a family.
On September 1, 2000, I packed up my white Honda Civic, left my apartment and my job in the field I had been in for 13 years, and drove out to Easthampton.
Three days later, Justice of the Peace Bruce Zeitler led Dunreith and me through a ceremony we had designed and guided us through our vows as we pledged our love to each other at that moment and for all future moments.
One of the moments I remember most from the ceremony is the point where both Dunreith and I did not read, but rather spoke from the heart, first to each other, and then to Aidan.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember Dunreith’s blue eyes, her wintry hair and her pure authenticity.
At the end, I stepped on a glass wrapped in a white cloth napkin and Aidan threw rice at us.
Much has happened since then.
Aidan has grown from a boy to a young man I am proud to know, someone with character and compassion.
We have buried her parents, first Marty, then Helen, and my stepmother Diane.
We have moved halfway across the country, and, in July, to one of the more southern points in the world.
We have quilted a community that stretches from Chicago to Western Massachusetts, from Boston to South Africa, from California to Chile.
Aided by Dunreith’s unflagging support, I have made a transition from educator to writer.
Together, we have worked to help each other realize personal growth and professional success, and, in so doing, to build a life based on our most cherished relationships, our most basic values and our deepest dreams.
Our marriage is neither perfect nor always easy.
But, even during moments of conflict, it is always, always worth it.
Today, Dunreith and I shared a day full of gifts.
We took an unhurried, meandering walk through the tapestry of brightly colored buildings, lapislazuli shops and restaurants of many stripes in the Bellavista neighborhood.
We ate a freshly prepared and tasty meal at what has become our favorite restaurant here in Santiago.
We passed through a glorious collection of homemade paintings and flutes and posters and belts and etchings in Feria de Artesanos, a covered area rich with mosaic tile that ironically celebrated its 21st anniversary today.
Dunreith chose an unexpected gift: a copper ring with a green and black speckled stone in the shape of a D with a pair of tiny silver circles at the bottom and top of the letter.
We bought it from Juan Pablo Lazo, a lean Santinguino wearing a leather apron who has plied the trade he learned by observing other artists for two decades.
She displayed her newfound treasure for me as we walked over Pio Nono, with people passing by and the brown Mapocho River passing underneath.
We asked our waitress tonight to take a picture of us.
As I looked across the table and into Dunreith’s blue eyes and ever more wintry hair, I was filled with gratitude to her for sharing her life with me, for helping me reach my dreams, and, through her blend of fiercely unconditional love and soulful authenticity, helping me better a better husband, father and man.
Happy Anniversary, Dunreith.
L’Shanah Tovah, everyone.