I sat our child down on the couch today to watch our wedding DVD. He has stared at the wedding photos hanging on our wall for months now and has gifted me with his own commentary on the matter:
“Look! Mommy and Daddy got married! Where’s the cake? That’s when you smush the cake!”
From his persepctive I am Elsa and you are daddy and we hug and kiss and so we’re married.
I love that perspective. Because while real married life is far from a fairy tale, it is good and right that he associates affection with marriage. We kiss and hug and so we’re married. The end. Or rather, the beginning.
You and I both sat down during your lunch break today, next to him and smiled as he pointed out all the people he knows from our big day, “There’s uncle Tongy! Aunt Boogity! Look it’s Daddy!”
His eyes are wide as “Pampaw” walks down the aisle with mommy. He asks what we’re doing as we bow our heads in prayer and light the unity candle and laugh at pastor Kenji.
And I began to summarize for him what was happening, “Right now daddy is promising mommy he’s going to take care of her forever. Look how happy mommy is!”
I stopped for a bit because it sort of all hit me how simple and hard this stuff is. Marriage and life. Raising kids and making impossible promises. Where would I be without you, John? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. Some days it feels like we don’t have each other – when stuff really goes down hard. When stress fractures our rest and pain bubbles into anger and silence is just so. much. easier. Yet here we are. Nine years into this. My eyes fix back on the screen and I see myself, glowing in all the bride-ness and you, looking like you could pass out any second. We grabbed hands and marched triumphantly from the church as Mr. and Mrs. – walking right into years and happiness and sorrows we could never see coming.
“I’m a better man now than I was then,” you remark as you get up off the couch and head upstairs to complete your work day. And you know what? You’re right. I like who I am now more, too. Not just because we grow up and I think inevitably that means we care less about what other poeple think (ha!) but also because being your wife has made me a better woman – a more truer example of who God made me to be. You have helped make that happen.
A lot can and has happened in 9 years – I remember the first night we fell asleep with our backs to each other in quiet, seething anger and hurt. I remember when you crossed the silence and reached for my hand in the dark. I remember you staring at the wall in blank numbness during the dark valley of depression. I remember holding your hand during those valleys even when it didn’t seem like it made a difference. I remember when you gave me a big hug and told me God would take care of us after I lost my job. I remember being wheeled quickly by you, a lone figure in scrubs, scared and yet at peace that God was with us during Samuel’s sideways entrance into the world. I remember those tears wobbling in your eyes, spilling into your face mask when we first heard our son cry outside the womb. I remember loving you even when I was too exhausted to say it out loud. Gosh there are a million moments that have made me a better woman – and one man who has walked with me through all of them.
Here I sit, 2 weeks from go-time with baby #2 entering into the fray that has resulted from our promises to each other – and I love you more. I just love who you are and who you’ve become. I love watching you succeed. I love watching you parent. I love that I have the privilege to help you when your back pain rears it’s ugly head or “dark clouds” invade your mental space. I love that I can still look at you from across the room and I still want to know more about you. I still want to run away with you somewhere and forget about everyone else for a bit. (that time is coming, so help me. 10 year anniversary we drop the kids off with the grandparents and run)
At the beginning of our wedding video there stands 20-year-old, fresh-faced Rachel in all her bridal garb – sunday school posters in the background as I say, “I love you so much and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us!”
I couldn’t have imagined that 9 years later, our son nestled next to me on the couch, our daughter poking and pushing my belly to ungodly places, I would still be able to look at you – to look at 9 years of being united with you – and I still can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us. Because I get to do it with you, and He continues to sustain us by His grace and through His Spirit.
I love you, John. Thank you for still being mine.