I was 18 then. The entire world around me was changing. Graduation loomed only a few months away and the prospect of college loomed in the not too distant future. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be. I just knew I didn’t want to do it alone.
Enter the most unique and incredible person I have ever known. From the moment I laid eyes on her I knew she was different. Some people call it ditzy, she’s been told she’s unaware – I like to say she lives in the moment, and she ALWAYS sees the best in people. She was smiling then, and I don’t know that a day has gone by that that beautiful smile hasn’t brightened the world, even if only for just a few seconds. Her joy and authenticity gripped me in that moment, and it hasn’t let go since.
After an appropriate amount of time had passed, I decided to succumb to what many of my friends and family had known for quite some time. She was my person. The one. My better half – and the only human capable of spending the rest of my life, with me. I did what any self respecting 23 year old kid would do, and I bought a rock, and made a plan. At the same spot we had shared our first kiss (a magical moment worth reliving), I asked her to be my bride. After a few moments of confusion, and a VERY exclamation of the question “are you serious?” – the answer was yes, and the planning began. June 17th, 2006 would be the first day of the rest of our lives. And they would all be done together.
It was hot. Like steamy (insert joke here) and uncomfortable. There were hiccups. A lost mom, a late dad, leaving the reception hours later than we planned; and many more I’m sure I can’t remember. But if I am being honest, it is STILL one of the best and most beautiful days I have ever been a part of, and I have been fortunate to have many. Even her make-up (which she NEVER wears and was beautiful) couldn’t keep me from crying like a school-kid, as she walked down that aisle, and into my life in a brand new way.
Sure there have been hard times. Two break-ups (obviously my fault) and the occasional disagreement (hey it’s what happens when two passionate people get together) have graced our days. There were moments when I thought I’d lost her forever, and times when she lost those who cared for her most. A honeymoon that started with us washing all my clothes in a bathtub and laying them around a VERY air-conditioned room to dry in four hours; ended with a car ride home filled with the realization that her mom’s cancer had returned. It’s not the path that either of us would have chosen, but it’s the path that life gave to us, and it has made us the people that we are today.
Those people made two BEAUTIFUL children. One just like each of us, to remind us of where we come from. They overcame death, sorrow, and grief, and sometimes have to show anxiety the door. They’re responsible for a world renown photography business, an instagram famous creator studio, and the coolest church this side of the St. Croix (no offense fellow pastors). But most importantly, those two people have CHOSEN to love each other each and every day since, even when they didn’t want to or didn’t know how. That’s what love is – a choice – and it’s one we’ll keep making.
Today, on the 14th anniversary of the day we became husband and wife – I remember being an 18 year old boy standing on a metal bench in the link at Hudson High School. I remember seeing her face. I remember hearing her laugh. I remember the feeling in my chest when I told her my name. If I could tell that boy anything, it would be to jump in with both feet and to lead with your heart. He’d smirk and laugh, because I think he already knew. I think it’s just what he did. 18 year old boys don’t always make the best decisions, but on that day, in that place, this one did.
I am 38 now. The entire world around me is changing. So much seems uncertain and out of my control. But one thing, one person, makes me know that tomorrow morning is worth rolling over and getting out of bed for. I will not be alone. There will still be some joy. There will still be her smile. It’s all I needed then, and it’s all I ever will.
Thank you Emily, for being my person, my one, my better half, my wife, my partner and my reason. You have all of me. I love you. I choose you. Thank you for choosing me. Whatever tomorrow brings, all that matters is that I am facing it, with you.