“Are you ready to talk about this?”
Your voice was so calm and smooth. I, on the other hand, blanched with panic, knowing full well what you were asking. We were supposed to be working on my college homework assignment, for goodness sake. But apparently you had other plans.
“Talk about what?” I asked, trying to sound innocent over the thudding in my chest.
“Us,” you said.
No, I was not ready to talk about “us.” I thought we’d keep dancing games around our mutual attraction for months to come.
But you’re not a guy to play games, are you?
I actually told you, “No, I’m not ready.” But that didn’t deter you. You plunged ahead.
And that was the beginning of us.
That night you set our relationship on the course that has us celebrating a decade of marriage today.
Ten years and now we’re two people rolling over to turn off morning alarms.
Ten years and somehow we have three humans we’ve grown ourselves.
Ten years and we’re in the middle of potty training, forever potty training.
Ten years of life side by side. Ten years of moves and flights and plans and dreams and study and play.
Ten years and you come home at night, walk into the kitchen as I stir dinner, and I think “Gosh, there’s no one in this world I’d rather see right now than you.”
Because you and me, we make us. And I love us.
I love us even on the days when all our brokenness hangs out, because there’s something beautiful in knowing all the broken bits of each other and saying, “I love you still. I choose you still.”
Today I want to remember, Love. I want to live all the million moments that have made us, us. Let me pen it down, so that decades from now, when we’re all wrinkled and trembly, and our minds have grown foggy, I can reach my hand for yours, and we can read and remember. We’ll remember the first decade of us.
Remember driving away from our reception (and heading to Taco Bell, yes Taco Bell), just the two of us? Remember the tears that fell, because the day had been just completely perfect? The bubbles had been crusty dried bottles (perhaps that’s why they were clearanced??) and we never ever even saw the food table. But none of that mattered. It had been a day full of magical moments. And now what remained was the celebrated bliss of being Mr. & Mrs.
Remember how we stood on the beach of Mackinaw Island and I told you of the ache I felt? That this love I had for you was so strong it hurt, that I couldn’t imagine being happier than I was at that moment ever.
Remember wandering through the streets of Venice, and listening to pure music echo off cathedral walls?
Remember how we must go back to Italy one day and not eat off the menu touristico?
Remember that day when I cried on your shoulder in a parked car in Missouri, pouring out tears for the way you were helping me awaken to grace, beautiful grace. I think that’s when I knew I needed to marry you.
Remember the blinding rain that made us pull over into that countryside driveway, how a quiet dark car set the mood, how the farmer turned on his lights and opened his door, and we peeled out before he could holler at us to stop making out in his driveway?
Remember standing at the airport check-in counter, frantically rearranging bags to get them under weight? Such precious novices about to board our first flight to China.
Remember how in the dormitory room during orientation to China, I raged sick with fever, and you climbed into the little rock-hard twin bed with me and we held each other tight, wondering if moving to China was the biggest mistake of our lives?
Remember the number of students that could squeeze onto our first China couch? Those rowdy games of spoons, losers punished by singing? I think that’s when we first began to think, “You know, maybe we’ll stay.”
Remember standing outside the shopping mall, waiting for it to open? Waiting to purchase the stick that would tell us if we were parents? The instructions were only in Chinese, so I had to pull aside a giggling Starbucks employee to explain to me how to take the test. We rushed home, much to the relief of my waiting bladder. Then that little pink line said, “Yep, you’re lives are forever changed.”
One by one these three little people entered the equation of us. There was the agony of waiting for Ellie to arrive. “Will she ever come?” There was rush of “Get to the hospital NOW!” for Aiden, my head in your lap in the back of a taxi. There was the gasp of “It’s a boy!” for Titus.
And always, there was the hushed awe in the hospital room, after everyone would leave, when just the three of us would bask in the wonder of it all, the scent of new life in the air.
Three babies born in three countries. Fun to say. Loads of paperwork though, huh?
These ten years have been a lot about finding the you and the me of us. It’s been the discovering and stepping out in faith into what we’re each meant for.
Remember the YMCA hotel room when you first spoke the letters “PhD”?
And can you think of how we would have laughed if someone told us I would one day be the founder of an online community? Yeah, ME, the girl who has always run to you for the slightest computer glitch.
Let’s think for a moment of all the times we’ve questioned our sanity, all the times when our life and travel and dreams and children have stretched us beyond ourselves and we’ve wondered what in the world we’re doing.
There have been some of those times, haven’t there?
Times when we don’t know how to keep on with it all.
Even in those hardest of times, we’ve always believed in each other, believed for each other.
And now we’re entering this new season, a season of pruning, of cutting back, and finding what we need for wholeness.
We’re finding us again, not the old, younger version of us, the ones with honeymoon stars in our eyes, but a new, deeper us. An us that knows the stretched out parts of ourselves.
I like this us.
I like who you are and who you help me to be. I like this family of ours, the beautiful, loud, crazy lot that we are.
Let’s remember we won’t always have wriggly little bodies climbing all over us while we watch our wedding video every September 18th. They won’t always be there bobbing their heads to the music and squealing with delight at “the kiss.”
So let’s bottle up the memories of these days. Exhausting though they may be, they are glorious.
All the moments of today are making the us of tomorrow. I think I will like that version too.
I’ve said it at least a million times, but let it ring with depth today…
I love you.
I love the dish-washing, gift-giving, tender-hearted, wisdom-anointed man that you are.
I love that you are mine and I am yours and that we get to be us. Because I love us.
Here’s to 10 years, the first decade of many. A lifetime just begun…