I’m having difficulty remembering my life before you. You were always here; always meant to be. To say I love you doesn’t rightfully convey. Loving you has become a selfish endeavor. To love you really says 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 are 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 were strangers on our honeymoon as I described in I Married a Stranger . But there was a fiery spark between us (and still is). And our spiritual journeys clearly led us to one another; we had a knowing that we were “meant to be”.
It began as a blind date. No expectations on my part other than a free movie and meal. I was a little bummed that I didn’t get the movie. But what I got was 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 were intent on figuring out their purposes. My introduction into the mind of an engineer. I was relieved when I didn’t see a pocket protector. You were so inquisitive and curious; still are.
Your IQ soared above mine, but I didn’t hold it against you. Maybe you’d benefit from my love for beauty and creativity?
At the restaurant, The Widow Watson, that you’ve forever called The Widow’s Watch, you drew a map of North Carolina on your napkin. I’d never been to North Carolina and I’d never been instructed by a napkin drawing. I was intrigued.
One probable discussion scared me: my children. I was afraid it would be a deal breaker. Especially the part about Dawn. But you wanted to know more. You didn’t flinch when I said, “She’s five and developmentally delayed…not verbal yet.”
When you met Ben and Dawn, you quickly got on their level and read books to them. We took them to Wendy’s in Pearl, and you fed Dawn a baked potato. Later you helped her eat ice-cream.
No one had ever responded to me in such a kind way—I was in shock.
I liked you and you liked me.
When you flew back to Wilmington, our fast and furious six month courtship began. Mostly by phone. We’d see each other only 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. Since social media and texting weren’t yet the norm, we’d rely on our few shared memories to remind us of each other. Our blooming relationship was more than an image.
We drove to Arkansas with the children to visit my parents the summer right after we met. I stood at the kitchen window washing dishes; looking out on that vast green lawn; the beautiful Ozarks in the background. (I miss my parents.) You played with Dawn; giving her directions to see how she’d respond. My heart didn’t know how to process what I was watching. You were simply a rarity. More than I’d asked and hoped for. Gaining instant children, including a special needs child, didn’t deter you in the least. To you it was a bonus.
Right before our November wedding day, our friends hosted a big Thanksgiving celebration. Today we’d call it “Friendsgiving”. You stood up and declared that you were “buying the whole field to gain the treasure.” (reference- Matthew 13:44)
Six months is hardly time to really 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 by our faith and intention.
When I say, “Happy 34th Anniversary”, I realize that all 34 years weren’t happy. There’s not space here to list all the troubles; the stress of caring for a daughter who wouldn’t grow up as we’d hoped, the losses 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 when hurricanes were coming. My insecurities were often tied to earlier devastating experiences.
I wish I could take back the times when I folded my arms, kept my distance and sulked silently. The minutes matter more to me now.
I’m sorry I’ve complained about your driving. That I told you to drive like me. For reminding you about stop signs and braking and not to drive with your knee (although I feel justified in that one).
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’m not willing to entertain that thought right now. I’m hoping that we’ll just 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 shedding tears with me when I couldn’t even express my pain.
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 crying 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 so many nights. For planting gardens with Ben and coaching his teams. For being so proud of them both. For sharing Dawn with inquisitive strangers— explaining her deficits so they wouldn’t withdraw from her. Thank you for our second pair of children; John and Katherine. For the delight of grand-parenting Eliza and William together. And our children by marriage: Adrienne, Mary and Matt—our answers to prayer! Thank you for loving us all in actions as well as words.
I suppose the two become one theoretically at the exchanging of vows, but oh how sweet the process of truly becoming joined in a way that a lifetime of God’s faithfulness and our forging towards each other has provided.