Holding up the Ceiling: A Marriage

Photo Credit: Mykl Roventine

Photo Credit: Mykl Roventine

My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  I remember when we chose this poem by Michael Blumenthal, amid planning the minutiae of our wedding.  And we hung on every word as my dear friend read it to the congregation.

Although we considered this poem to be reflective of the ideal marriage, in retrospect, I don’t believe that either of us fully appreciated the impact of this sentiment.  At that stage in our relationship, we had not yet experienced any hardships as a couple.  I also recall naively thinking about people saying that challenging times brought people closer together, but not fully understanding that concept.  Fast forward to today, and we have seen plenty of turmoil.  And it turns out, the adage is true.  When you are with the person you were meant to ford the streams of life, challenges only strengthen the relationship.

As we consider Valentine’s Day, I hope you have someone in your life that can help you hold up the ceiling (and vice versa) to feel the relief of respite.


By Michael Blumenthal

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you. Your arms
are tired, terribly tired,
and, as the day goes on, it feels
as if either your arms or the ceiling
will soon collapse.

But then,
something wonderful happens:
a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.

So you finally get
to take down your arms.
You feel the relief of respite,
the blood flowing back
to your fingers and arms.
And when your partner’s arms tire,
you hold up your own
to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this
for many years
without the house falling.

Fiona Bessey-Bushnell

Fiona Bessey-Bushnell is an occupational therapist and writer. A former archaeologist, she now enjoys digging up great stories right here in Richmond. She has an unusual affinity for Venn diagrams and post-it notes. Fiona lives with her husband and two young sons.

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