It was 19 years ago.
The Church was tiny.
The guests were few.
The reception was lovely.
The bride was…pregnant.
Every odd was seemingly against us. I’m sure you remember all the jokes about teen marriage and the statistics on our odds of staying married, right? We already had Liam; Keisha was already growing within me. I was 19 and you were 20.
Everything about out life together is vivid in my memories. All of it. I remember our crappy first house and the crappy jobs that went with it, but better than that, I remember all the laughter with the friends we made there. The nights in the restaurant after it closed. That time you made the guy his chicken wings ‘daring to be as hot as you could make them’. I remember how happy we were when ‘chicken bone’ was born.
We moved and we moved on more than once in our time together. We left jobs, we left friends, we started over. More than once. And in the middle of all that we raised a family. All because an old high school boyfriend of mine answered my phone call one Christmas and said the magic words that would define the rest of our lives: where’s my boy?
I don’t want to talk about the hard times. Everybody has them, we don’t need to re-hash them. The important thing is we’re still here. We still choose us.
I want to thank you though. The greatest gifts in my life have come from you. And no, this time I don’t mean the children, although they are themselves, pretty fantastic gifts. I mean this:
I can name a million times when I’ve felt each of these gifts from you, and they are all precious to me. You’ve always been there, even when I wasn’t. Diamonds aren’t worth so much.
Tonight, when the kids are gone to bed and (hopefully) my back isn’t so sore. Tonight after we’ve had the dinner I’m going to make today and you’ve told me how your day of work has gone. Tonight when the house settles into relative quiet and we are in our bed. I will lay my head on your shoulder. You will stroke my hair and we will know this is where we’ve always meant to be. With each other.
Happy Anniversary, my love. Nineteen years and still going strong. Here’s to nineteen more.