Sixteen years ago, sunlight danced off icy branches as a new day unfolded. Standing on the porch of my childhood home, I took a few moments before appointments and preparations to breathe, to pray, and to enjoy the dawn of a new chapter of my life.
The morning was a blur of activity during which I didn’t have time to think of more than what needed to be done in that moment. All of a sudden, there was quiet and calm. In those moments of silence before taking those first steps, my thoughts filled with thankfulness for the blessings in my life and wonder at the things I survived to get there. At the first strains of music, my heart leapt in joy and anticipation of spending the rest of my life with my best friend.
My Dad walking me down the aisle; my beautiful maid of honor and the “nice Amish boy” (if they only knew!) best man; the flower girls in gorgeous handmade dresses; the ring ninja protecting the rings from any and all threats; musician friends playing and singing, even if they couldn’t find the Radetzky March; family and friends who braved ice and snow; my best friend who couldn’t make it but who was beside me in spirit; a pastor friend from out of town who hours earlier was mopping the entryway floor at my parents’ house; and so many more – what a wonderful group of people to be surrounded by as we publicly committed to forever and always.
And our reception – Mr. D's band ; my former band director/father of one of my flower girls (whom I used to babysit) on trumpet; the (married) Pastor catching the garter after the sea of bachelors parted; the band egging on the young man who finally caught the garter as he put it on the leg of the drummer’s daughter, whose mother hovered over them; an awesome performance of New York New York; my grandparents dancing to "I Found My Million Dollar Baby at a Five and Ten Cent Store," and singing Christmas carols with my friends are among the highlights of a truly special day.
But the best part? The best part has been the sixteen years since. We’ve had our ups and downs and have come through them, sometimes not with flying colors, but have come through them. We’ve lost three babies, but we’ve gained five amazing children. My health has dramatically declined, but our understanding of what is really important in our lives and our marriage has just as dramatically increased. I was going to say that the one constant through it all has been our love for each other, but that, too has grown. When I married Jim, I loved him with my whole being. That much hasn’t changed. But now I not only love him as a person, my best friend, and my husband, but I love him as my family’s provider, as the father of our children, and as my caregiver.
I always dreamed we’d one day be two old fogies rocking together in a porch swing watching our great-grandchildren play. Now I’m sure, God willing, we’ll do that some day. I figure if I can put up with him for sixteen years, what’s another sixty? Besides, I’m partway to fogydom already – I’ve got the arthritis, the canes and the wheelchair. If I don’t keep him around, who’s going to push my wheelchair, heat up my rice socks and bring me water in which to soak my feet … or laugh with me about things that only we find funny, agree with me that life just wouldn’t be as entertaining without our children, be just as scared of our three-year-old as I am, or be crazy enough to deal with my insanity?
So thank, you, honey, for everything you do for me every day – especially the millions of things I forget to thank you for. Thank you for laughing with me when my body fell apart, even if I almost peed my pants. Thank you for putting off a certain procedure long enough for us to have the five children I told you we’d have when we got married instead of the two you had planned on. Thank you for supporting me in all facets of our lives: natural-duration breastfeeding, babywearing, homebirthing (although it took you a while J ), homeschooling, having a crazy number of children in our house on any given day, and all the other radical and not-so-radical life choices we’ve made. Thank you for wearing those pants in college and for letting me stalk you and still talking to me when I quite awkwardly approached you in the computer lab and told you that I knew you from somewhere. Thank you for being an overprotective puppy dog. Thank you for loving all of me. Always remember…