September 07, 2017

15 Years

Today marks 15 years since 2 starry eyed kids said “I do”.  Kamron and I had no idea what we were in for when we committed our lives to each other way back in 2002.  I’m not sure anyone ever does.  

Our first dance on our wedding day.  September 7, 2002

This 15th year… well, it’s been trying… interesting… brutal and beautiful.    This is the year I came home with tears in my eyes and told him I’d prayed over my precious step father and watched him pass from this life to the next after a long, terrible battle with cancer.  This is the year we had to commit one of our children to a long term psychiatric facility.  This is the year that I called and said, “My granny has cancer again and I don’t know how to make sense of anything.”  This is the year his mom called and said, “You need to come.  Your grandma is in the hospital.”  And so this is how we wished each other a happy 15 years together this morning...

On Facetime… while he’s 5 hours away in St. Louis helping his grandfather while his grandma is in the hospital with congestive heart failure.  Today this is what love looks like.  It looks like him telling me that I’m beautiful as my face begins to wrinkle as we dial it in over the phone.  It looks like me telling him that I’m so glad he’s getting to take his grandfather out for breakfast to make sure he eats.  It means understanding that in this season, the unconditional support that the other one offers in tragedy is just as precious as the triumphs we share together.  We are learning that the true measure of a relationship is measured in the trials.  And, oh my gosh, this is the year of trials.  While it feels that there is often a dark cloud permanently attached over our heads these days, it has given me the opportunity to dig deep, to rely on God and the one that God gave to me in marriage.  And so here, on this day that marks 15 years together, I have to shout the undeniable blessing that a marriage tested and weathered and treasured is all about.

15 years is so different than the early years- the years when everything was new and fresh and exciting have been replaced with a well worn and welcome layer of comfort.  The years of raising babies have been replaced by caring for parents and aging grandparents who need our time and support.  The nights of sleep interrupted by crying littles has been replaced by crying our own tears over the loss of loved ones and worry over raising teens and pre-teens.  But it’s also better.  It’s deeper and truer and honored and revered. 

15 years looks a lot like him being able to guess my moods by whatever music is blasting when he gets home from work.  Eagles if I’m feeling nostalgic.  Rap if I’m in the zone and kicking ass and taking names that day.  Worship music if I’m weepy.  He can read that about me.  None of these are his favorites but he never turns them off and every now and then I catch him humming along.  And I can skip over the entire Judas Priest and Rush catalogues in our shared iTunes collections.  But when we turn on Frank Sinatra during dinner sometimes I take him by the hand and lead him into the living room to slow dance to some of our shared favorites. We block out everyone for a short moment and it’s just us.  And then we come back to reality to discover our little people staring at us with a peace that is brought by seeing two parents who still love each other and we feel complete.  They join in and we all split off and I dance with the boys and he dances with the girls (and someone always dances with the dog) and in that space on our gray and white living room rug, all feels safe and secure and right with the world.

15 years looks like realizing that some things are not worth getting riled up about any more.  Like how the same spot in our yard never gets cut and sticks out to me like a sore thumb and how I can never seem to remember to take the dress shirts out of the dryer before they wrinkle.  We know these things about each other and adjust accordingly.  It’s being able to say, “Oh you rear ended some one?”  Instead of saying, “The kids said you rear ended someone due to road rage!  Are you effing kidding me!!” And him saying, “I see you got the lawn mower stuck.  I’m glad you are okay.” Instead of “I’m going to have to spend hours getting that unstuck and how in the world did that even happen?” We have (mostly) figured out by this point how to pick our battles. 

I am why we can't have nice things.  

15 years looks like going on a diet together to lose the same 20 pounds over and over and over again.  God bless our hearts that are probably full of plaque and our stomachs that really, really love chocolate cake and onion rings.   

15 years looks like texting each other at 4 o’clock every afternoon to say, “What’s the plan for dinner?” and “Which kid are you taking to which practice?”  It’s sharing the responsibilities and figuring out a routine and executing it together.  Day after day after day.

It looks like being the yin and yang for one another.  It’s him gladly taking the late shift because I am incapable of parenting after 8:30 pm and me doing morning school duty because he’s incapable of human conversation before 9am.  We know these things about each other and we compensate accordingly and our family is stronger for it.  We’ve learned to be grateful for the well oiled machine that is having opposite gifts.

15 years teaches you respect and tolerance.  For example.  Let's say one of you watches Fox News and mostly votes republican and the other prefers CNN and mostly votes democrat.  You don’t quite understand each other about it, but you only think the other is slightly stupid for their beliefs instead of thinking they are completely insane.  That’s a dance perfected over time. 

It’s watching each other with complete joy.  I well up with so much love when I see that boy watch his children play sports.  He’s so proud and in love with those babies and it nearly brings me to my knees to see the pride he has for them.  It’s him seeing me tend to my little garden and rejoicing with me when the first tomato gets ripe.  It’s watching him throw a ball with the kids for hours on end and him watching them fall asleep in my lap while I stroke their hair.  It is my heart nearly bursting watching him show our sons how to tie a neck tie. 

15 years is finding ourselves on “date night” after visiting our daughter in an institution and sharing a bottle of wine while try to make sense of the hours and hours we’ve spent in family therapy trying to help her heal this year.  It looks like an unwavering commitment to her and to each other when we don’t even know what the next step is.  It’s him booking me a massage when I go to visit her for my first time solo because he knows it’s going to be a hard trip for me.  And it’s me making sure he has clean underwear to pack and booking his plane tickets for him when it’s his turn to visit because the washing machine and the internet are not his gifts in life.

It’s rolling our eyes at each other for the same things year after year.  It’s having the same fight about him not knowing where we keep the vacuum cleaner or how to change the furnace filter and me being a total jerk when he asks me for help with anything technology related or coming up with excuse after excuse about why I can’t ever seem to manage to get to the grocery store. 

This year love has looked a lot like him holding me while I sit on the kitchen floor having a panic attack.  It’s me being patient through a stressful season of his work life.

It’s celebrating the major victories.  It's being in the water watching the best man at your wedding baptize your 10 year old.  It’s that look that you give one another that says, “Wow.  We made this.  No matter what else we screwed up, we got this one thing very, very right.”

It’s sitting side by side through endless games and school performances.  It’s asking him to drop off forgotten assignments and lunches at school on his way to work and him trusting me to sign those damn agenda books every single day. It’s a shared commitment to these little people that we love more than life itself.  It’s building something that feels like it matters.  

Marriage is learning tolerance for each other’s quirks.  Like him learning to just ignore me when I get frantic and stress clean and go a little bit psycho when I start screaming about how no body ever picks up their towels or flushes the toilet so it’s gets the “pink ring of shame” around it.  It’s me not questioning when he feels the need to buy cases of things like beans and hoard water in the event of the apocalypse.  It’s figuring out that there are non-negotiable about each other that we are never going to change- like how he thinks I drink so much coffee that my blood/caffeine ratio is enough to kill someone and how he will never kick his diet Pepsi addiction even though I think it is going to give him cancer. 

This stage of life means that instead of romantic getaways for 2, we use our vacation time to travel with in-laws and outlaws (not really, all in-laws here) because getting to watch our parents be grandparents is one of the great joys of both of our lives.  My goodness what a gift we are both grateful for.

I've also learned that there is nothing sexier than watching a man be a good father.  Except for when that same man can no longer see to read and needs cheater glasses.  So, I guess watching a man be a good father in his readers is my own personal heaven. 

On this day, in this season of exceptional trials, I’m ever so thankful for this crazy, amazing, man of mine.  There’s no one else I’d rather walk through life with.  Kamron Terry, you are a gift to me and to our children and I’m so glad that you walked into a bar all those years ago looking so hot and catching my eye.  Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family and thank you for loving us so well!   Love you forever!  Happy 15th anniversary!

Cheers, my love.  Here's to many, many more!

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