twenty down

boygirl sepiaOn December 4, 1994 I met a boy. A mere 6 weeks later I said yes to a peculiar marriage proposal. And 6 months after that, on this very day 20 years ago, we were married. We began our roller coaster ride together. We had no idea it would bring so many ups and downs in such a short amount of time. Nothing could have prepared us for the hardship, pain, joy, and adventure that would create more diverse experiences in 20 years than most see in a lifetime. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, vacations, suicide, murder, mental illness, cancers, surgeries, foster care, births, miscarriage, adoption, college, grad school, welfare, theft, unemployment, homelessness, home ownership, bankruptcy, car wrecks, bike crashes, 21 moves, 36 states, a few countries, numerous cities, and countless human beings. We definitely haven’t seen it all, but it still feels like quite a bit. And most days it exhausts me.

Although I don’t wear a sign around my neck for when people first meet me, I’ve never been secretive about my struggles as a mother and a wife. I don’t hide the fact that my cynicism and my faith battle on a daily basis. And while my job has always been hard for me personally, I still believe in it. And the one thing I’ve had all these years is someone who makes sure I don’t forget it.

I can’t count or remember how many times I’ve wanted to leave over the years. And on a few occasions I planned it out and said I was going. Sometimes he said he would take me wherever I wanted and tell everyone it was his fault. Sometimes he begged me to try one last time and I would agree. He has always known what I needed, sometimes even before I did. I’ve done unspeakable hurtful things that would have given him good cause, without question, to leave me. But he hasn’t yet. He never gives up. They say “it takes two”, but I’m not sure how that is when I want to give up every other day. He takes responsibility for other people’s lives all day at work, then comes home and still takes care of us; sometimes on days when I haven’t even been able to make it out of bed to see anyone. Most times on days when he’s worked over 12 hours and probably has slept less than 6. It seems he always has more for what we need.

He cooks, washes dishes, puts his clothes away, and works 50-70 hours a week supporting us. He never considers it babysitting to spend time with his children. He can fix anything he puts his mind to and the kids say he’s “strong as an ox”. He is humble and confident. He is patient, disciplined, and dedicated. He never complains about what I buy or when I want to leave town. He makes me laugh and tries his best to keep me from getting bored (if it’s even possible). He makes my nomadic, non-committal soul feel safe. There’s no one else like him. He is the love of my life.

Twenty down. Cheers to a marriage that has survived things I never thought it could. I pray I have the strength for the next twenty.