Walking together in a field near our Sunbury, PA apartment, suddenly you were on your knee saying those four life-changing words. We were twenty years old, our lives stretched out before us.
Walking down the church aisle toward your handsome, beaming face, my heart fluttered, not with anxiety, but with joy and anticipation of good things to come. We were barely twenty-one, more sure of the love we shared than anything else in life.
Walking out of the emergency room in your arms, devastated, empty, longing for the baby that was not meant to be. We were twenty-three, just beginning to understand, "in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health."
Walking into my parents' house on Christmas Eve, I held our most precious Christmas gift in my arms. I was ever so thankful to be in this place - in every sense of the word - and not just because I thought we'd never arrive due to you driving 15 mph in a 45 because there was a baby in the car. In my childhood home, during this miraculous time of year, we celebrated not just our Lord's birth, but our son's birth. We were finally parents. Days away from twenty-four, we were now not merely husband and wife, but family.
Walking through the door of our house with newly born Zachary and big brother Alexander was a dream come true. At twenty-five, after merely four and half years of marriage, we had not only a growing family, but a home - our home.
Over the next ten or so years, we walked many places together.
We walked through the woods of countless parks and nature centers, almost always carrying one child or another on our backs.
We walked through St. Mary's hospital parking garage, where I stopped every six steps to lean against whatever was close by to breathe through a contraction. What a sight we must have been with two young boys in tow, me reassuring the concerned onlookers that I wouldn't give birth until I got to the birth center.
We walked a 10lbs 14oz newly born baby from the birth pool in our dining room to our bed, and then did the same with a 9 lbs 14oz homebirthed baby a couple years later. We snuggled our little ones, marveling that just hours before, in this very house, this little person in our arms had seemed more dream than reality.
We walked together through breastfeeding and babywearing, through elimination communication and gentle discipline, through morning sickness and miscarriage, through homebirth and homeschooling.
We walked together through the mall, just the two of us, trying to figure out how it was that we managed to enjoy ourselves before having kids.
We walked through SPORKS and through my Lowest Point.
We walked together until I could no longer walk, and then you pushed me in my wheelchair. Somehow we didn't see this happening at 36 instead of 86.
We continue to walk, wheel, hobble .... journey together through this crazy life of ours. Through Epoch battles, plays, and classes. Through the sanctuary of Camp Calumet. Through impromptu dance recitals, gluten-free test-kitchen creations, game nights, questionable choices in movies, and jokes that only our family would find funny. Through anger, tears, and pain. Through laughter that just won't stop. Through endless glasses - or mugs - of water, hot rice socks, and foot water. And despite the fact that you won't bring the bathroom closer and haven't yet built that thing.
I will walk with you through sickness and in health. For better or for worse. With canes, crutches, wheels, or my own two legs. Always.