13 years ago I married the man I love. 13 years ago we stood together and imagined a future together, a future that was filled with all the hope and promise two young twenty-somethings with the world at their feet could imagine. We lived in a city we loved, we had careers blossoming in front of us, we had our families and friends standing beside us and in our minds we had it all.
So much has happened in the last 13 years, much we didn't expect or plan and yet we have walked, at times stumbled or crawled and yes, even allowed ourselves to be carried, as we made our way through it together. We left the city we loved and two good jobs because when you found out we were going to be parents you wanted to move close to my family so our child would know the love I had growing up, you wanted to give your child what you never had. You were already a selfless father, even before you knew your child. You respected my choice to stay home and raise our son, even though it meant camping out at the in laws a wee bit longer than expected, okay a lot longer than expected, before we could join the ranks of the landed gentry and home of the indebted.
You have stood beside me as we welcomed each new child into our lives, two who have brought more joy into our hearts than we ever could have imagined and one whose death has brought more pain than we have ever known. I have seen you look at your newly born children with both the awe and humility that a newborn inspires and the anguish and disbelief that stillbirth bestows. In the last thirteen years, we have celebrated life and we have endured death, together.
Thirteen years ago we vowed to stay together, through the good and the bad, never knowing how much of either we would have. We promised to love one another forever, no matter what the future held. We pledged to each other that from that day forward, we would always be there for one another, not just when it was easy and fun but when the days were dark and the future uncertain. We did not know then exactly what those vows and promises would mean to us. We couldn't envision a life of struggle or days, long days, of grief. Those are not the things you dream of on your wedding day. We dreamed of joy, of success, of children and a home. We dreamed of the things we wanted and never thought the bad the things would come our way.
And in the last thirteen years we have been lucky to have had more of the good than the bad. While it hasn't always come easy, we have managed, together, to always make what we have feel like the best thing there is, for us. We still have dreams left to be fulfilled, we still have hopes that give us something to reach for, and of course, we still have each other.
I know now, more than I ever did thirteen years ago that the future, our future, holds no guarantees. I know it will be laced with good things and I know that bad things will thread their way into our lives. There is no stopping them. But I also know now, that you will be true to your words, that you will stand by me when the rain comes, that you will hold my hand when I feel alone and that you will hold me when I feel empty. I know that you will carry me when I feel I can't go on. I know now that you will tell me I can and I will believe you. I know that while you may not be able to find your keys or your shoes or your wallet, or your long lost wedding ring, you will always find your way home to me, to us.
So today, after thirteen years, I say thank you for all that you have given me and all that we have shared together. I look back and think to myself, so this is marriage. This is the real deal. I hope that this thirteenth year brings us more good than the last two years have. I hope that we have a respite from the struggle and can take a moment or maybe even two, to just recognize all that we do have and enjoy it simply for what it is, without thinking about what it is not.
I am grateful beyond measure for all of it, I would be lying if I said there is nothing I would change, but I can also say that even with the loss of our son I have been able to see things, good things, that I had not known before and never would have known had he not died. I do not believe this gives his death a reason or an explanation or his life a purpose, but I do believe that I can take some meaning, some measure of learning from the tragedy that his death was.
Thirteen years. Here's to the next thirteen times four or five. I still love you more and I will love you always, come rain or come shine.
ETA: I don't know what is up with the cartoon but here's our song....the one I will only ever dance to with you.