Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20, 1998

Eleven years ago, today, I married my high school sweetheart. Having met when we were only 15, we have spent more time together in our lives than not.

Tom and I met in 10th grade. We were in the same Driver's Education class, and sat next to each other for the entire semester. It wasn't until early May that I started to talk to him though, since he was super quiet and shy. The guy who sat in front of me was driving me nuts, and finally I had enough and just turned to the next closest person to talk to. Little did I know that it was the start of something.

We started dating pretty shortly thereafter, and have been together ever since. We worked together, we had many classes together, and in large part, we grew up together. By the time we graduated from high school, we had been together for two years already. We'd made it through serious family health problems, a near-miss car accident and a major natural disaster, all at 17.

We have never once broken up, not even for a day. We did talk about it briefly around the time that we graduated. Back when lots of well-intentioned people tried to tell us that it would never work out, with going to different colleges in different cities. That we needed to be free to meet new people and such. That the distance would be too much. That it would just be better to start fresh, not be tied down to a relationship. We decided to give it a shot.

There were times that we didn't see each other for over 6 weeks, especially freshman year. Neither of us had a car, and we were 120 miles away from each other. This was in the days before email was big. Neither one of us had a cell phone. We talked when we could, and got very creative with methods of transportation. Trains, carpools, bummed rides and some very bizarre friendships got us where we wanted to be - with each other. Here we are today, 15 years later. I guess the doubters were all wrong.

We've both changed a lot, but we've learned to deal with those changes. He changed a lot that first year especially. Some changes have been easier to adjust to than others, but that is part of life. Any long term relationship requires the ability to adapt.

Someday when the kids ask the story of how Tom proposed, they are in for a bit of disappointment. It's not a great story, but it's ours. We knew that we were going to get married after we finished college, that was just a given. At some point, we started planning the wedding. I used to give him a hard time that he didn't ask me. And finally, one night he tried. A few weeks before the end of our senior year, I was visiting him in San Diego. He had gone out and bought two of our china place settings, and made a fantastic dinner. I ruined it by mentioning that it would be a great time to propose. I felt terrible, and I still do.

The day of our wedding was gorgeous. It was an El Nino year, and had rained for the entire week before the big day. My dad was sweating pretty good since we had no back up plan and the reception was outside. I told him that it would be fine. I just knew it would. It was sunny, without the June gloom. It was warm, but not hot. And it certainly wasn't raining. As I danced with the best man at the reception, he told me that he wanted what we have.

Since then, life has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. One that we didn't plan to ever get on, that's for sure. Life hasn't worked out the way that we always thought it would. We had a plan from about the time we were 17. We were going to get married after college, wait 5 years, then have a baby. Plans changed one afternoon, sitting in a doctor's office. Cancer.

You don't know how much you love someone, how much you need them, how incomplete you would be without them until it is called into question. When you are no longer sure whether they will be there with you forever. Contemplating life's big questions at 22 is hard thing to do. Will he survive? Will he be healthy? Will we be able to have children?

And you have no idea how strong you really are until you have no choice but to be that way. And you really and truly learn how much you love someone when you are watching them sleep at night, thanking God that they are there. I joke with him, tell him that I must really love him. Otherwise, I wouldn't have washed his feet for him when he came home from the hospital. It must be real.

We have been through illness, recovery, loss, infertility, and the miracle of our children. I may struggle sometimes with the day to day issues of parenting a small herd of children, but I am now and will always be humbled and thankful for them. Every child is a blessing, for sure. When you have defied the odds as we did, though, you can't help but be even more grateful.

Here we stand, all these years later. Defying the odds still. Long distance relationships fail. People change too much in college to stay together. The radiation will irreversibly damage his fertility. Somehow, we challenge these rules. We shouldn't still be together. We shouldn't have kids. And yet, here we are.

Happy Anniversary, Tom. You are my husband, my partner, my best friend. You are my life, you are my love. And I'll wash your feet any day.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written Kelly, as usual. I am so blessed to have you both as friends, to have seen this relationship begin and grow. It's amazing, it's beautiful and humbling. Many more happy anniversaries to you both!

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