|Our first picture together, almost 11 years ago.|
I'm one of those people who can honestly say I knew when we started dating that Michael would be the man I would marry. There wasn't ever a doubt in my mind. I didn't know when (it'd be six years until we got engaged, and we would throw a cross-country move to Boston into the mix beforehand) or how or where....but I knew it would happen.
|One of our engagement pictures -- my favorite.|
We got engaged on June 21st, 2007. It was the summer solstice -- the longest day of the year -- and we had been planning a trip to a bed & breakfast in Vermont. Instead of picking me up at the train station after work as we'd agreed, he texted me and told me he'd left the car for me and walked home.
I got into the car and saw a note taped to the steering wheel with "M" on the outside. Inside was a clue. It led me to another clue with a note that said "A" on the outside. Then to another that said "RR," and then another that said "Y," and then to one final note in our apartment complex that said "ME" on the outside.
Shaking, I walked into our apartment to find him wearing a suit and tie, on one knee, with candles lit. I remember I was wearing a white sundress. He read me a letter, detailing the reasons he loved me, and then he opened a white box and offered me a ring. Folded into the box was a fortune from a fortune cookie that he'd saved. It said "Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you."
Hold that thought...
We got married on September 6th, 2008. It was one of the best days of my life, but I still count the day we got engaged as "better," simply because it was just the two of us. We were the only ones in that moment. One of my favorite moments of our wedding was the last dance at the reception. The guests left to go get ready for our Grand Exit. The DJ started "The Last Dance" by Frank Sinatra, then left the room. The photographers left. The waitstaff left. Everyone left and it was just us -- alone on an empty dance floor.
Hold that thought...
Since our wedding, we've been through the typical (I suppose nothing is typical when it's specific to you as a couple, but...) ups and downs as a married couple. We've been selfish, at times. We've been too needy or too distant. We've held grudges and taken things for granted.
But we've laughed until we nearly cried at inside jokes. We've communicated across a room full of strangers, friends, and/or family members with just the raising of an eyebrow or a facial expression. We've talked and talked and talked. We adopted our "first born:"
I can honestly say that, even after almost a decade of being together, I didn't really get it until the past year and a half or so. As I said earlier, I knew in the first weeks of dating that this would be the man with whom I'd spend the rest of my life. I knew I loved him...as someone who is young and immature can be in love.
In the past year or so, though, our honesty and communication have improved. We've grown up. We both want God first in our marriage and in our family. We've learned things about who we are individually that have shaped and molded who we are as a couple. In some ways, I started to feel like it was a brand new chapter in our lives -- a chapter that will still contain stress and conflict, but that will be a continuation of the journey of two main characters who have really changed and matured.
It's cliché, I know, but I can honestly say I love him more now than any other time in the past decade. I love him in a brand new way. I love how he is a Spiritual leader in our family by his actions and his words, but in his own quiet way. He's taught me to stop and listen rather than be quick to make my point. He's always there to remind me to laugh at stupid things until you cry. He's taught me about grace and forgiveness.
There have been times recently when I'm truly overwhelmed by how much I love my husband, and then overwhelmed at how long it took me to "get here." To see it how it's supposed to be, finally. How God always intended a marriage to be.
Remember when I said earlier that I still place the day we got engaged over the day we got married? It's close enough to be a tie, but the reason that the engagement stands out is because it was just us. It was all about us in that moment.
Looking back over the past year and a half, the moments that stick out to me the most are the moments when it was "just us." After years of being physically (and sometimes emotionally) apart for one reason or another due to rehearsals, our own selfish plans, or just conflicting schedules, we've both put us on the front-burner. Invitations are turned down, politely. Plans are sometimes cancelled. Us is a now a much higher priority.
Obviously, one of the moments topping the list of late is the moment we found out I was going to have a baby. It was early on a Sunday morning, and the three of us (he and I and Carmen, of course) were just lounging and cuddling on our bed, and I decided it was time to take a test. I just had a feeling...I know my body and I knew something was different.
Just like I will never forget the look in his eyes and the smile on his face when he opened that white jewelry box and asked me to be his wife, I will never forget the way his eyes grew to the size of dinner plates when this time it was I who held out a white object. He saw the word "Pregnant" on the little tiny screen and, once again, our lives were changed forever.
I have been wanting to write a post about my husband for a long time now, and a couple of weeks before the expected delivery of our first child seemed like a good time to do it. For one thing, I wanted to just brag. He is an amazing husband, an incredible best friend, and the best doggy daddy an accident-prone pitbull could ask for.
He's been an amazing husband throughout my pregnancy. He's thoughtful, he's proud of me and tells me often, he's dedicated and supportive, and he's so excited.
I truly cannot wait to see him be a father. If it overwhelms me to think about how much I love him now, when it's just us and our little baby bull Carmen, I can't even imagine how it will make me feel when I hear him announce "It's a _____!" and when I see him hold our son/daughter for the first time.
For anyone who thinks we are being selfish or plain old spiteful when we ask that we have no visitors until hours after our baby is born, and who do not understand why we don't want anyone with us in the delivery room except the necessary medical personnel, please try to understand --
Everything wonderful and life-changing that has ever happened to us has been when it's just us. Our engagement. The last dance at our wedding. The late-night, sometimes tear-filled (on my part) conversations that got us through hard times. The nights holding our shaking dog recovering from surgery. The moment we found out we were going to be parents. The first time we heard our baby's heartbeat...
We only want the same thing when we increase our family by one more. When us takes on new meaning.
Our baby is due on June 20th. I have to admit that, while I'd like to welcome him/her whenever the timing is perfect, I wouldn't mind being one day late and delivering on June 21st. The summer solstice. The longest day of the year. The six year anniversary of the day we got engaged.
Earlier this week, we got Chinese food for dinner. As I opened my fortune cookie, my pregnancy hormones kicked into gear and I suddenly started crying. "Honey, look!" I exclaimed, and I showed him my fortune:
Maybe it's a sign that this baby will arrive on that special anniversary date. Or maybe it was just a coincidence...surely these fortunes get used over and over again. Or maybe it was just a reminder of just how far we've come together and how different our journey is about to be. No matter what, though, I'll be putting this one inside that yellowing white box along with the original.
It's a reminder about us. And it's about to change forever.