Nine years. That day we put on our best clothes, stood before our families and God, and pledged our love to each other, in good times and bad, sickness and health. We had no idea how soon those vows would be tested.
Less than five years later I had cancer, and we suddenly faced the grim prospect that I might die before we got the chance to grow old together. But rather than give in to the fear and despair, we hunkered down together to fight this thing. When chemo made my hair fall out in angry clumps, he shaved my head. When my surgical drains filled with pinkish fluid after my mastectomy, he emptied them. When I sobbed at the idea of dying before our son could even remember me, he held me.
These are the moments of true love. No flowers, cards or jewelry could ever convey the depth of emotion we share. No mere words could capture the love that performing these acts expresses.
Our relationship isn’t perfect—no one’s is. We have our share of issues and disagreements, but even then, I know that the things we’ve shared, the storms we’ve weathered, have bound us in a way that can’t be broken.
It’s amazing how fast five years of marriage and nearly 10 years together have gone by. Totally cliched to say, but true nonetheless.
This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding day. It’s not one of the beautiful professional shots we paid for, but rather a grainy cell phone photo taken by a friend. But I love the pure joy it captures. And how it captures us as both individuals and a couple. Rodney throwing up the horns, me grinning like a fool–that’s us at our goofy best. And at the center, our hands intertwined, facing a roomful of people as one.
We’ve been laughing today at how unromantic our anniversary has been, thus far. We both felt kind of cruddy when we woke up, and we spent much of the day putting toys together and running errands for Alex’s birthday party tomorrow. Right now, Rodney’s snoring on the couch in front of a football game on TV, and I’m wrapped in a blanket on the recliner after my own nap.
But that’s real life, and real life is what marriage is truly all about. I feel sorry for people who are constantly chasing some Champagne-and-roses Hollywood ideal. Real marriage, and real love, is in the boring moments, the hard moments, the little moments. It’s having someone by your side who will hold your hand as a doctor manually breaks your water (which is super-fun, in case you’re wondering) and then later as you’re cut open on an operating table to deliver your child (terrifying and yet amazing). It’s someone who will sit up with you in the middle of the night as you figure out breastfeeding a screaming infant, and who will basically feed you by hand when said infant insists on being fed when you’re trying to eat. It’s having someone who will buzz all your hair off, and still look at you like you’re beautiful even when you’re bald and sick. It’s someone who will make you laugh through all of this.
We’ve been through quite a bit in our five years of marriage, and I am so thankful every day to have him there with me every step of the way. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but it’s ours and it’s good, and in a time of so much uncertainty, I’m grateful to have something (and someone) in my life I can always count on.