And there, at the other end of the pew, stood Bryan*.
I know it's not the PC thing to say, but he is my life. My world. My every good thing. I look at him, and all that I feel is a surge of wonder and love and fullness and love and happiness and love and grace and love. And I start to cry, because all of that feeling has to come out, and in the middle of Mass, that's really the only appropriate way. While I'm sure everyone would appreciate the sentiment, they probably wouldn't appreciate me running around the church screaming "I love this man completelyyyyyyyyyyyy!" before I tackled him for a lengthy hug and kiss.
This summer, we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Include our 7 years of dating, and it adds up to well over half our lives. We were babies ourselves when we met. So much has changed. So much has happened. How can I not consider him my life?
When we first started dating, neither one of us even had a driver's license.
|My 16th birthday. Although, by my outfit, you'd think it was Christmas.|
Who would have guessed that 27 years later, we'd spend more time in the car, driving our 6 kids all over God's green earth, than anywhere else?
Back in our early years, we were living an active lifestyle. Just about every waking moment we were playing tennis or running or hiking or swimming or biking or skiing. Anything that got us moving.
Now, we are active, but not in a "stay fit" sort of way. More in a "this kid needs new shoes" sort of way. Or a "we need to fix the barn door that fell off" sort of way. We look forward to simply falling asleep on the couch together after the kids have finally gone to bed.
We were huge nerds (only saved by our athletic ability) and dressed the part. We wore whatever our parents thought looked good.
|Our first dance together.|
Now, I buy all of our clothes. We're much more fashionable, despite what our children think.
Before we were married, we tested our relationship. We didn't want to stay together out of habit. We went to different colleges on purpose. We were still a couple, but it was a long-distance one. We wanted to "find ourselves" before we made the commitment to marriage. While we talked daily and saw each other every month or two, we made choices independently and lived different lives.
Today, there is no testing. There is no finding ourselves independently. We consult each other on everything and make decisions together. While we do enjoy doing things separately every once in a while, we want nothing more than to spend time together.
When we were young, our lives were filled with big celebrations and big unknowns. Graduations and weddings and moving out into the great big world without our parents was the normal for us and our friends. We went to many big parties in such a short amount of time with all of our favorite people in the world.
|Hey Shawnna! Look familiar? :)|
I can't tell you the last time I went to a big celebration with a big group of friends. Now, our lives are filled with little moments. Little snippets of fun. Short bursts of celebrating. We're in a comfortable, comforting routine. Even the unexpected, like finding a bat circling over your bed as you slept, is somehow part of the routine.
Not counting those seven months when we lived in Bermuda, we were broke. Bryan was in law school, at a university which didn't let law students work during the school year. I was the sole breadwinner in a town that didn't have any open teaching positions. We lived in a roach-infested, cinder block, 4th floor, no elevator apartment. That first year, I was subbing during the day and decorating cakes at Kroger during the evenings and weekends. We were poor, with a capital P-O-O-R.
Fortunately, the gamble to leave his job in Bermuda to attend law school paid off. We are no longer poor. We are financially secure. Our kids may think we're still broke, based on the things they don't get, but we're not.
Back then, we were nomads. In our first five years of marriage, we lived in 5 different cities in 2 different states and 2 different countries. We were adventurous, going wherever the wind and opportunities took us.
|Graduation from law school. I was waaaay pregnant with Phoenix.|
We have lived here at the farm for almost 9 years. At this point, we're prepared to stay here another 16 more. Moving is the last thing we want to do. Moving is a lot of work, and we're not really in the business of finding more work to do.
When we were young, we had no idea how to work together to raise children. I was quite comfortable with babies and kids, seeing as how I'd been taking care of them since I was 11. However, Bryan had only been in charge of a child once in his life. His youngest brother. And Bryan tied his brother into a playpen so he could play video games without interruption.
|Oh my word, how is that tiny baby now taller than his dad?!?!|
Now, we are pros at taking care of little kids together. When you have a system for nighttime vomit, you have arrived at pro status. And I can say, Bryan has never tied one of our kids up in order to get things done. He may have thought it, but he's never done it.
We are by no means done changing and growing together. Many big things are in our future. In twenty years, I will be able to write another post about how different things are compared to now. The only thing I know for certain is that Bryan will have even less hair.
And we will have chased at least 20 animals back to their pens or out of our house.
Oh, and I will have shed a whole lot more tears.
I'm linking this up with Stasha's Monday Listicles, theme of "10 Things That Are Not the Same", suggested by my friend Julia.
* And his real name is revealed!! I couldn't write this post about him using anything but the name I've called him for 27 years.
Have a lovely day!