Today marks five years that an incredible woman has been legally (and emotionally) tied to a man who had no business getting a woman of her quality to fall in love with him. On purpose. What exactly do you say about that? For starters, thank you – thank Jesus, thank my amazing wife, and thank my parents for not screwing me up (I kid, but isn’t that really the goal of parenting?!). But beyond the typical love you’s and memories, I’ve learned so many lessons that I wanted to pass along to the children we hoped to have right now. The only way I can teach them those lessons now is to live them out loud, knowing that they will see their dad loving as hard as he can when they look down on us…
Luke and Jonah, love will mean different things to you as you grow up. When you’re young, you think it’s about passion and new experiences. You think about that special person every waking moment, but in a way that is fleeting though you won’t know it yet – you haven’t learned how heartbreak builds character through resolve. As you grow and see how things change, you’ll realize that real, honest love is about accepting. There is no ‘perfection’ as an absolute – there is simply perfect for you. It doesn’t have to make sense to people around you and you probably won’t see it coming, but you’ll know it immediately when it finds you. Your mom and I knew each other in high school, having similar circles of friends but always dating other people. We were busy learning about ourselves and going through things that would eventually make us perfect for each other. As the years and experiences built up, we met up at a mutual friend’s wedding (SHOUT OUT TO SCOTT AND JESSICA, and Happy Birthday too!) and found each other living a few miles apart in a big(ish) city. It started with dinner at a Thai restaurant and a crappy Eric Bana movie. An Oregon Ducks football game – the first of the season – marked the date we decided we were officially dating less than a month after that wedding. The lesson here? The right company can withstand anything.
When we started dating, it started to show pretty quickly that we were similar in a lot of ways but went about our business differently. For starters, your mother is a very strong, independent woman. When I opened the door for her, she told me I didn’t have to – ‘I can do it myself’. When I carried a gazillion bags of groceries in after she grabbed a couple, she told me ‘I could have made another trip’. It was never about capability, but servitude – I knew should could do it alone but she didn’t have to anymore, and neither did I. For another, we’re both emotional people. We feel things deeply and hold them in our core, though I wear it on my sleeve while she holds it in. I cry watching movies and tv shows (for real) and she always checks on me. I’ve always been a very busy person, doing sports all year growing up along with choirs and bands, while your momma functions best at a slower, more comfortable pace. The fact that her favorite thing to do is take out a camera and capture the tiny, amazing details in a moment in time should tell you how different we are in that respect. Our love allows us to be who we are, where we are, and how we are. I’ve learned that the moment you expect more than your special person is capable of at that moment, the harder you make your relationship.
Caring for each other is required, but it isn’t enough. When you find your special someone and decide to spend your forever with them, you’re accepting all of them – their ambitions, their character, their habits, their family culture… all the good, all the not-as-good, and everything in between. You both deserve someone who not only cares for you, but cares for you in a way that no one else can – they need to get you, and you need to get them. The things you’ll experience together will test your relationship in ways you will never expect, and those intangibles mean more than almost anything. That connection is rare, but it’ll find you if you let it happen.
The love Mom and I share has made it through so much in our five short years, and we never would have made it if we hadn’t been blessed with enough heartache early on that we understood what we had when we found it. Our love has grown in your lives and in your memories, and our connection to each other has strengthened because of you. Every day I get to wake up to your mother is another day I’m thankful for the life I have, and I thank God for a life in which she has given me the gift of a father’s love. Five years married, two lifetimes of love, and more in our future God willing. Live your lives looking for flowers instead of weeds and you’ll find them every time.
Lastly, do things that show you care. Take her on dates. Write her notes. Tell her stories. Buy her flowers – and do it when she isn’t mad at you or on a special occasion. Remember the little things she likes but won’t get for herself, or the big things she wants but won’t allow herself to spend on. Hold her hand. Spontaneously dance in the kitchen and sing a song if you need a beat (hell, make noises that vaguely go together if you can’t sing, but do something). Make her smile. Hold her when she hurts, listen when she needs to talk, and be present when you’re with her. You only get one shot at this kind of love and it deserves everything you have.
To my wife – happy fifth anniversary! We’ve seen and done a lot of things together, but my favorite is still going on a walk and holding your hand. Thank you for making this life one I’m proud to live.
I love you