Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On What You Can Learn in 16 Birthdays

It seems like just yesterday I was walking into the residence and spotted a very handsome guy across the hallway.  I remember telling my girlfriends that I thought he had one of the most beautiful smiles I’d ever seen. There was something about him that made me instantly know that he was destined for me.  We stuck like glue.  That was over 15 years ago when I met the love of my life.  I always thought it only happened in movies when people fall in love immediately and “just know” that they are going to spend the rest of their lives together.  Well, fortunately, it does happen in the real world and it happened to us.  I remember telling my mom, after dating for only a few days, about this amazing guy I had met and that I knew I was going to marry him some day!  Like she said, when you know, you know.  And I did!  So I want to write a letter and not just any letter.  A letter to my love on his birthday…


Where do I begin? Oh yes, happy birthday babe.  As I sit here and think back on the past fifteen years, I can’t help but smile with a faint tear in my eye.  We have had the most amazing journey so far.  We’ve had times where we can laugh until all hours of the night, cry on each others shoulders, and sit without saying anything at all.  I can’t imagine my life without you.  You are my rock.  You are my soul.  You are my strength when I am weak.  You are my encouragement.  You are my best friend.  You are my happiness.  You complete who I am and who I was meant to be.  You are always there for me when others aren’t.  You always tell me the truth even when it hurts.  You love my family as much as your own.  You can always make a bad day good with just a smile and a flash of those dimples.  You cherish your friendships and I love that.  You make the world a better place.

A girl asked me about our wedding the other day. She was young and excited and wanted to hear about all the pretty details.
“Wow”, she said. “That must have been the best day of your life”.
I smiled at her, in all of her youthful exuberance, and I agreed “it really was a great day…but there have been so many more since”.
“Wasn’t it the BEST, though?”, she persisted. She needed to hear it. The twenty-five-year-old standing in front of me needed confirmation that the wedding day she was so anxiously dreaming about was going to be the best day of her life.
And that’s okay, because, right now, she’s young and excited and has watched one too many romance movies. One day, she’ll understand.
She’ll understand how much more there is to look forward to. She’ll understand, if she’s as lucky as I am, that only after the dress has been worn; the flowers have died, and the food has been eaten that the real fun begins. She’ll understand that, while a wedding is great but a marriage is better.
When I woke up this morning, on your birthday…I wondered what I’ve learned about you in 16 of your birthdays celebrated together. The truth is…I know nothing about the fairy tale that girls dream about! The bigger truth is, I don’t need to know anything about it, because “we” aren’t a classic fairy tale. “We” aren’t this universal truth that applies to all. We are us. You and me. Our crazy lovely life. Our family. And that’s what I’ve learned 16 celebrations later…

Babe, it’s the way you run your fingers through my hair when I’m crying with my head on your chest. It’s the way you let me think that I’m hilarious. It’s the way we can spend hours and hours in a car together without killing each other. It’s the way we dance with our boys. It was the look in your eyes when you feel hurt. It’s the way you took care of me after we had our babies. It’s the way you tell Kingston how smart he is. It’s the way we get through life as if we are inextricably connected. It’s the way you think that 25 Facebook likes is just the beginning of what my writing will do one day. It’s the way you put your head on my lap when you are hurting. It’s the music we listen to as we drive. It’s the immense joy we found while binge watching Dexter. It’s the road to Patson court and Jack Astor’s and crooked cobblestone walkway to OUR first home. It’s our own backyard and starry nights in the hot tub. It’s my endless tears and your endless patience. It’s the way you kiss me goodbye each morning. It’s the way you let me embrace my insomnia. It’s the way you fold laundry. It’s the way you never complain when I spend too much money on coffee. It is a stocked wine shelf and morning coffee.  It’s watching the sunset over Three Mile Lake and your breath on the back of neck while we sleep. It’s the warning signals you give off when you’re hungry and the way you still love me even though I never put gas in the car. It’s the way you hold my hand when you’re driving and how nuts it drives you when I leave the car a mess. It’s doctor’s appointments and mortgage payments and first days of school. It’s embracing the big things and bickering over the little things.

One day that excited 25-year-old girl, if she’s as lucky as I am, she’ll understand…

She’ll understand that the best day of her life isn’t going to be her wedding day or the day she meets her Mr. Wonderful, it’s going to be all of the days after because then she’ll realize that her wedding day was only the beginning.
And as I woke today, 16 birthdays later, I did actually know one thing for sure about the man I married…
I’d choose you all over again.

Today, Tomorrow and Always,
Happy 35th Birthday, Handsome