It’s hard to remember my life before you. Somehow, you were always here; always meant to be. I love you falls short. Loving you has become a selfish endeavor. It means I love myself because, in you, are so many pieces of me; as in me are chunks of you. I can no longer see us separately. There’s no going back to those two people we were. We’re forever and inextricably tied together, blended in such a way that if we were torn in two, the two pieces would be nearly the same.
It hasn’t always been this way for me—seeing us as one. We hardly knew each other on our honeymoon as I wrote about in http://I married a stranger. But there was a fiery spark between us (and still is). Our spiritual journeys clearly led us to one another; we had a knowing that we were intended to be together.
It began as a blind date. No expectations on my part other than a free movie and meal. I was bummed I didn’t get the movie. Instead, I got a long conversation with a most unique person. I wasn’t sure what to make of you. We drove around the Barnett Reservoir in Jackson, Mississippi. You noticed the buildings and structures and acted like it was your job to figure out the purpose of each one. That was my first peek into an engineer’s mind. You’re an inquisitive man.
I knew your IQ probably soared above mine. I needn’t have worried. You’d benefit from my creativity, insight and intuition.
We had dinner at The Widow Watson, which you’ve forever called The Widow’s Watch. I’d never been to North Carolina so you drew a map on the napkin–specifying various regions—my first instruction from a napkin. I was intrigued.
One subject scared me: my children. I needed a husband who’d love my children as his own. You asked questions and didn’t flinch when I described Dawn’s developmental disabilities.
You met Ben and Dawn the next day and were quick to squat to their eye level. You sat on the sofa and read books with them, as I watched in wonder. When we ate at Wendy’s in Pearl, you fed Dawn as if it were your routine.
I was stunned by an unfamiliar emotion; no one had ever responded to me in such a kind way.
I liked you and you liked me.
When you flew back to Wilmington, our fast and furious seven- month courtship began, mostly by phone. We’d see each other a few times before our wedding. Once when I waited for you at the airport, you almost didn’t recognize me! We’d write letters and talk on the phone every night. Before social media and texting, we relied on a few memories for mental pictures. Our budding relationship was deeper than photos.
We drove to Arkansas with the children to visit my parents the summer right after we met. I washed dishes and looked out on that vast green lawn—the beautiful Ozarks in the background (I miss my parents.) You played with Dawn, gave some directions and watched her response. My heart didn’t know how to process the scene. You were a rarity—more than I’d hoped for. You’d gain two children, which included a disabled child, and you thought it a bonus.
Right before our November wedding day, our friends hosted a big Friendsgiving celebration. You stood up and declared “I’m buying the whole field to gain the treasure” (Matthew 13:44).
Seven months is hardly time to know someone. What I knew is that you were a godly man. I could trust that God brought us together. I hoped, in time, our love would grow through faith and intention.
When I say, “Happy 35th Anniversary”, I realize all 35 years weren’t happy. There’s not space to list all the troubles; the stress of caring for a daughter who wouldn’t grow up as we’d hoped, the loss of loved ones, jobs, and relationships. And the private deep pain.
I confess, I’ve rolled my eyes at you when you weren’t looking. I’ve been hurt and angry when you were at work too much and home too little. I’ve hated the times you’ve left me for job responsibilities during hurricanes. My insecurities were often tied to earlier devastating experiences.
I wish I could take back the times I folded my arms, kept my distance and sulked. The minutes matter more to me now.
I’m sorry I’ve complained about your driving—that I’ve instructed you to drive like me. Sorry about the stop sign reminders, but I’ll still correct you when you drive with your knee.
I’m sorry when my selfishness has hurt you. When I didn’t love you completely and loved myself too much.
One day one of us will be alone without the other. I can’t entertain that thought. I hope we’ll fly to Jesus one day, all wrapped up together.
Oh the miracle of marriage— the miracle of our marriage. How can I ever thank God enough for His Plan? How can I ever thank you enough for taking a risk on me? To think of life without you is unbearable— it’s to think of myself not alive.
Thank you for the thousands of hours listening to me. For times you shed tears with me when I couldn’t express my pain.
Thank you for putting up with my many books and my many words.
I’ve loved watching you soften over the years, especially when I catch you with tears in your eyes over family dramas on television. Family means everything to us.
Thank you for loving our first two children. For helping to potty train Dawn. For staying up with her many nights. For planting gardens with Ben and coaching his teams. For being proud of them both. For sharing Dawn with inquisitive strangers— explaining her deficits so they’d be comfortable. Thank you for our second pair of children; John and Katherine. For the delight of grand-parenting Eliza, William and Henry together. And our children by marriage: Adrienne, Mary and Matt—answers to prayers!
Thank you for my morning coffee and love notes.
I suppose two become one theoretically at the vow exchange. But how sweet is the process of becoming joined in a way that God’s faithfulness and our forging towards each other has provided.