What exactly does one say to her husband on their 15th anniversary? Is this where she waxes poetic and talks of only the good times and how wonderful he is? Or is this where she praises him for being a good provider to her and her kids? Or maybe this is where she says, "You know, it's been rough, but we've made it through." I'm not sure what to say because I've never been in such a life-altering experience with someone for such a long time.
I was young when I met you, still a teenager. Granted, I was almost 20, but now that seems so young. You were 29, on the verge of your 30's and seemed so calm and strong in my world that had been turned upside-down in the previous year. I wasn't looking for a relationship, as you know, because I was just out of a nasty breakup with a man who I now honestly believe would've ended up being abusive. Yet Red had been honing his match-making skills and decided we should be dance partners. I don't think he realized that our dance would last as long as it has.
You grew up poor and I did not. You grew up in a broken home with an abusive, alcoholic and eventually absent father. I grew up in a strict Southern Baptist home with two parents who were there every night to make sure I was safe. My mom didn't have to work three jobs to make sure her kids had food; my mom stayed at home with us girls until we were 11 and 14. You used an outhouse and lived in a house that should've been condemned. We had a pool, satellite TV and a Nintendo. You swam in the creek, stayed out in the woods at night and had a problem with authority. I read a lot of books, made straight A's and had a curfew. No one can convince me that there wasn't Divine intervention that caused our paths to cross because I don't think we would've found each other on our own.
I am thankful on a daily basis that you overcame what statistics say should've made you an abuser, an alcoholic, and far less of a man. It makes me so proud of you when your mother, the woman who doles out only the most deserved compliments, brags on what a good daddy you are. I am so blessed because truly you are a good daddy to the most important things in my life – our kids. You had no role model to show you how to be a good father and a good husband, yet you somehow know how to do it. I really am proud of you.
I don't think I've ever told you how I knew I was going to marry you. I knew the night we met. We were at the dance hall during lessons when the sirens went off and since you were a volunteer firefighter you needed to go. You asked if I wanted to go since it was just an ambulance call down in the "ghetto" not too far from the dance hall. I jumped in your incredibly noisy truck and we went to see what was going on. I stayed in the truck while you checked out the situation, decided you weren't needed and we drove back to the dance hall. On that drive back you told me a story about a call you'd gone out on where some kids had witnessed their grandpa's heart attack. As you told the story about how scared those kids had been, you teared up and I knew right there in that moment that I was going to marry you. You had such compassion for those children and it touched my heart that it affected you the way it did. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was going to be your wife. Three months later, I was.
You know as well as I do that our marriage is not perfect. There have been times we've screamed (okay, so that was mainly me) and hollered and that time I threw the checkbook at you and told you to buy your own d*mn groceries and the time I threw the bottle of baby lotion at you and you threw it back and I learned not to throw hard things at you ever again. We have suffered through the loss of a child together and the birth of three others. We've decided to separate and then decided to stick it out. We've doubted our commitment, doubted our marriage and doubted our sanity more than a few times over the last 15 years, but somehow we've made it this far. In my heart I know it is only because of God that we are still married and for that and for Him I am so very grateful.
When you mispronounce things like "chimley" and say you're going to lay something "up agin'" something I have you tease you about your awful redneck grammar, but honestly, I wouldn't have you any other way. For 15 years you have left the toilet seat up, forgotten to clean up the hairs you leave in the sink when you shave, left bread crumbs and mayonnaise globs on the counter, fallen asleep in the recliner with one shoe off and you snore like nobody's business. Those are the things that make me want to pull myself bald-headed and more than once I've gone off on a tangent about one or all of them at once and more than once you've politely ignored me and my tirades and continued on with your annoying habits, but I know in my heart of hearts that I would miss those bread crumbs and red moustache hairs if you weren't here to leave them for me. I'll choose to view them as a reminder of your undying love for me whether that's how you intend them or not, okay? And from now on you can think of my inability (read: lack of desire) to change a light bulb, take out the trash, mow the yard or take out the trash as reminders of my love you.
Along with the annoying things, there have been so many times that, out of the blue, you have made me laugh so hard I can't breathe -- like when you try to clog or when you impersonate Nacho Libre. Darling, those are the times that I remember why I married you. And at night, when we get into bed, it's just automatic and familiar how we snuggle and fall asleep together. It's also automatic and familiar the way you start snoring and wake me up because I think a bulldozer has entered our bedroom.
When you come home at night and hug me you smell like cologne and casino - two of my favorite things. You used to smell like engine oil and grease and while strangely enough, I liked that smell at the time, I'm glad you've moved on to better smells. Not only because, yeah, you do smell better, but also because you're happier. You have realized you have potential and you have found a job you enjoy and you are good at. You've come a long way, baby.
On more than one occasion, when I have been particularly angry and frustrated with you, Sis has asked me why I have stayed married to you for so long when it seems that you infuriate me so much and the only reason I can think of is this: In the grand scheme of things, when God was figuring out who goes with who and how it would all work out, he chose to put us together. Who am I to question?
Happy Anniversary, dear. I love you.