Today is our fifth anniversary, Love.
You don't know it yet, but I have big plans for our evening. Your wonderful parents are taking care of our sweet boys while we, for the first time since our wedding night, spend a night at a hotel alone. With a third little one on the way, it will be our only chance for quite a while, so I wanted to take it - for you.
After our dinner at a fancy French restaurant, followed by a evening stroll downtown, we'll head back to the hotel to enjoy the rest of the evening and night to ourselves. I have our reservations made and everything we need stashed in the trunk - our packed suitcase, a selection of DVDs, sparkling grape juice, and, of course, chocolate. Mostly for me, but I'll share with you. I'm nice that way.
It's funny how two strange people like us ended up together. It seems that we who make our decisions based on number patterns and other such twisted forms of pseudo-logic should have a voice of reason as a partner. Then again, it is awfully nice to have someone who doesn't laugh when I say we should stop here because it's chapter fourteen; no, instead you argued that fifteen was a better chapter to end on, being a multiple of five. (I still say I'm right: fourteen, twice seven, has been my lucky number since childhood. What could be better than seven times two?)
Remember our beginnings? What a long process that was. Years of watching each other from a distance, certain our feelings were one-sided. Then off you went to university and that, I thought, was the end of that. Two years later you returned and finally, finally, we allowed ourselves to form a deep and true friendship. A year later, I had just given up any hope that you would take it any further than that when, at long last, you asked me that very question. Ah, that awkward first year of being a couple. Everything was new and exciting, but Love, I like what we have now so much more.
A year of dating and then off you went again. We did the long-distance thing for two terribly long years before I could finally join you there, secure in the knowledge that we were both ready for that final step, the big scary M-word.
And then there was, perhaps, our true beginning. We don't talk about it often, not with others. We let people assume we did everything "the right way", that we're "good Christians" (whatever that means, really). But maybe our world needs more truth, like the truth of two dark lines on a pregnancy test and tears and days of silence and both of us feeling like scared kids, worried about what our parents would say, what our church would say. Suddenly it didn't matter that you'd already chosen the day you'd ask me to marry you (our third dating anniversary) or that I'd already chosen our wedding date (seven-seven-oh-seven). All that mattered was that we'd done things wrong. Those plans of ours changed.
There's this question that has been weighing on my mind this past week, thinking about those beginnings of ours. I remember when, after two days of silence, of you being there-but-not-really-there, it came time to talk it through. I already knew what I was going to do. I was going to love my baby and let the rest happen however it happened. But what about you? I finally asked, and there was more silence, and then you told me you'd stay. You'd stay because even if you left, people would still find out. You were being honest about your inability to hide from the consequences of our actions - people would still find out - but oh, those words sunk down deep inside me. And sometimes, during moments of doubt, that is the question that weighs on my mind: Is that the only reason you stayed? Would you have left if you could have escaped shame-free?
We were lying in bed last night, both of us tired but unable to sleep. I wanted to ask you that deep niggling question of mine. But then a different voice spoke up. Stepping over my insecurities and fears, the voice of peace and calm and reason asked, what does it matter? And oh, Love, it doesn't. It doesn't matter why you stayed then because there isn't even the slightest part of me that questions whether or not you deeply love and cherish me now. You do, and I have never had cause to question it.
Children aside, this is the single greatest gift you have given me in our marriage: the gift of knowing for certain that you love, cherish, and adore me. Oh, you don't always like me. I don't always like you. We are so woefully imperfect, learning and growing together along this journey. But you love me and I love you, and I hope you feel my love just as assuredly as I feel yours.
This dance of ours has had its highs and lows over the years, but here we are, ending our fifth year together on the mountaintop, closer than ever. It gives me hope for the rest of our years together. This marriage stuff can be hard, but it is oh-so-worth it.
So Love, here's to five years together. I can't wait to see what the next five bring.