Honestly? I always worried I’d be too afraid to go through actually getting married. Not because I am afraid of that kind of commitment. And not because I have trust issues. I am seriously introverted. I hate standing in front of large crowds, and I hate all the attention on me. But that day was so different.
Ten years ago today, right this very moment, I was preparing to make the great walk down the aisle. I was so excited, but also suddenly terribly nervous. I remember sending bridesmaids out to make sure you weren’t standing around in the parking lot or hanging in the back of the Church. Once I got the all clear, we all traipsed across the parking, wind blowing, as my dress and especially my veil fluttered in the wind. As I walked into the vestibule, my dad was standing there and his grin said it all. I remember him saying how beautiful I looked, calling me Sprite and Addie-Paddie, and saying how hard this was for him but how happy he was for me. We shared a moment of tears and held each other.
Then the music started, my dad took my arm, and we walked. A third of the way down, I tugged his arm and through tears begged him to slow down. “We only get to make this walk once, Daddy.” He looked at me with glassy eyes, and slowed way down. We got to the steps of the altar, and my dad gave me to you.
Ten years. That’s a long time! I look at pictures that girl standing next to you, promising her life and heart to you, and I see how innocent and naïve she was. So full of only good visions of the future. Brimming with only hope of joy and peace. I failed to imagine the hardships that would inevitably befall us. But, you were always strong enough to keep us afloat.
Ten years. Full of unimaginable joy and heartbreaking suffering. Off we flew to our honeymoon, and unbeknownst to us, came home with a tiny tag-along growing within me. Our first child. Oh, how happy I was to give you a child. Nine months later, I gave birth and we took her home. I never told you how badly I struggled with postpartum depression, how black and dark life became for six months. But you were still strong enough to keep me going, even if you didn’t know how badly I suffered.
Two months after her birth, another positive test and lots of fear. Thirteen weeks later, we lost our first son. I fell into swirling hole of depression. Life moved on, but I could not. Between the PPD and our first miscarriage, life was rough. You knew. And you kept me going, held me up, and loved me through our first loss together.
The orders came, you left for a year; six days later, we found out she was tagging along. My sweet happy thought that got me through our first deployment. On the phone and through Skype, you talked me through my fears of another miscarriage, of giving birth alone. Just as labor was starting, you were surprisingly sent home for her birth. You arrived just in time. And our second sweet daughter was placed in our arms after a scary labor; how happy we were. We took her home and you left again to finish your deployment. Two months later, you returned home. Our family was whole again. Ah, sweet victory of surviving our first deployment.
Such a sweet season we were in. Filling our home with babies, learning how to love each other, and soaking up every moment in a home filled with tiny children. In April of 2013, another positive pregnancy test, and in December of the same year, a third daughter. Our sweet girls, your tiny princesses.
Another deployment in 2014, and very unexpected. You left within a month of finding out you were going. Our youngest was so small. I was terrified. During that time apart, I weathered two hospital admissions of our newborn, our second daughter’s kidney infection, a giant busted pipe in our home forcing us to leave the home for several days, and many other hardships. But we survived. You were my rock even so far away. And you came home. We were whole again. And, oh, the joy.
Another positive pregnancy test in November of 2014. We were shocked, but so thrilled. That pregnancy was so joyous, I still feel joy as I look back on it. A divine sort of happiness laced that pregnancy, as though something about it was straight from heaven. But halfway through the pregnancy, at a routine OB appointment for which I went alone, they couldn’t find the heartbeat. You rushed there, but still, the silence reigned. Our second sweet boy had flown home. Oh the heartbreak. Oh how much he looked like you. Things were hard for a long time after that.
But the light broke through eventually, and joy returned. You held me up, helped me heal, and together we found happiness again. We soaked up our precious girls, even stronger than because we knew how fragile life is. Life was full of messy crayon gifts, manicures on tiny nails, dance parties before bed. Our life was still beautiful. And then, he came. Our ribbon of blue amidst the pink and glitter. A huge answer to prayers; a son to hold here. Our tiny dude.
The last two years have been so full of hardship. Terrible job news twice over, health issues that led to sudden treatment that meant no more children. A car accident that totaled our paid off van. More time apart. Growing pains in our family. Huge health scares with our children. And then all of it culminating in the worst way possible: watching my daddy struggle with sepsis, and then losing him. Oh the grief that fills our family right now. I cry to God for a season of peace. I can only hope He grants our prayers.
My love, our life has been full of great joy and great suffering. The last two years, admittedly, have not been easy. We are tired, we are weary. During the last ten years, we have seen new life and walked through death several times each. We have held our healthy babies and laid sleeping ones to rest. We have personally suffered heartache that made us question our masculinity and femininity respectively. We have seen that adversely affect our sweet family and struggled to pull together again. We lost a man who was so special to both of us, watching him suffer terribly and then laying him to rest long before we thought we’d have to.
Ten years. We have gained new life and lost sweet children. We have been apart and we have clung to each other. We have praised God for blessings and hit our knees in darkness. We have seen each other at our worst and at our best. We have had seasons of innocent joy and chapters of suffocating darkness. We have lost and we have gained. We have cried and we have laughed. We have fallen and we have grown. We have questioned and we have answered. We have praised and we have begged. We have hurt and we have healed.
But we have never stopped loving.
Ten years ago, when I said “I do” to you, I said it to God, too. Our marriage has always been a vow to each other and to Him. You have been my earthly rock, my constant comfort, my forever best friend. You know how to make me laugh when I am weeping, how to keep grounded when I’m spiraling into worry, and to just hold me when we have no words. I am so very grateful for your constant love, your quiet heart, and your deep faith. I’m grateful for your daily prayers and your constant support. Our lives together in the last ten years have been constantly beautiful in the joy and in the suffering. I wouldn’t want to do this crazy life with anyone else.
Thank you for asking me to marry you. Thank you for promising your life to me. Thank you, sweetheart, for making all of my dreams, all my naïve hopes, come to life. And thank you for holding me up when our lives get tough. I praise Jesus that He put you into my life.
Ten years, my love. Ten crazy, beautiful, happily-ever-after years with a man who still looks crazy handsome, gives me butterflies, and is a daily inspiration to me. Here’s to at least seventy more.
I love you.