Do you remember eleven years ago, this month? We were leaving another game night at Nathan and Andrea’s house. We walked outside together, but before we said good-bye you asked me a question.
Do you want to get lunch after church tomorrow?
“Yeah, I do” I answered, trying to play it cool. “that would be great”
Okay, then see ya tomorrow. And you got into your Chevy Lumina and I got into my Pontiac Sunfire.
At Chili’s I got the chicken crispers and we talked about our families and March Madness and when lunch was over I still didn’t know a lot about you, except that you were kind and smart and really tall which of course was a must-have on my list. But I knew, from a whisper in my heart, that I was going to marry you.
One of our next dates, you took me swing dancing but beforehand, in my crammed grad student office, Carolina sugar scrubbed my hands so they’d be soft in yours as we jitter bugged around the Student Union. A year and a half later, after the dinner dates and movie dates and the first kiss and long walks and some hard conversations and meeting each others’ parents and falling in love, your dad asked me an important question, in front of God and our family and friends.
Kirsten, will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?
Yes, I will. I answered.
I remember the first year of our marriage so vividly. The long hikes in the mountains and long games of Trivial Pursuit at The Wine Loft, a bottle of Elk Cove Pinot Gris always on our table. Peaceful evenings in our little cabin, under the Flagstaff stars. I loved popping into your office on campus and driving out to Chad and Joy’s house on Monday nights. I loved cold mornings with you headed into town, sometimes we’d have to pull over again to scrape more ice off the windshield, both of us clutching our travel mugs and listening to Morning Edition.
Then, a move to Tucson that was scary for me, but we were in it together. Finding friends, finding a church, finding a job, finding out we were pregnant only to lose that baby. Finding out we were pregnant again a few months later only to lose that one too. You loved me so well and endured the violent waves of my emotions with me, never minimizing or rushing or shaming. I know you weren’t sure what to do with me at times, but you did exactly what I needed; you stayed by my side.
Then this daughter of ours arrived on the scene, and new parts of our hearts were stirred. In under two years we had two babies. It changed the way I loved, it changed the way I saw you, it changed the ways I needed you. A blur of diapers and sippy cups and sleepless nights and temper tantrums – some by the kids and some by me -and for awhile there I knew we were just hanging on by a thread. A very, very thin thread. But you’d hand me my ipod and my running shoes and I’d mouth “thank you” as I headed out the door to find some peace and sanity on the pavement.
And we laughed a lot and yelled a bit, and tried to capture first steps and first words and first days of school and we bought a house and lost patience with one another over plumbing problems and money problems and life problems. But always there would be a bottle of wine to linger over, or one extra cup of coffee in the morning, and while the kids ran around us like little monkeys we would talk about God and life and hurts and hopes. Our song would come on the radio while cooking dinner and right then and there we swayed back and forth in each others’ arms. Sometimes we couldn’t finish our dance because the oven timer would go off or our daughter would be tugging at your shirt wanting her turn with you.
And now we are busy and have oceans of thoughts and stresses and feelings keeping us like silos under the same roof, and days will go by where even though we are exchanging schedule information and jars of peanut butter for jars of jam – I don’t see you.
Eleven years later, after those chicken crispers at Chili’s, it’s true that there is more grit to us, more communicated when our eyes meet, and definitely more at stake than a first date could ever hold. But then again, it’s still just us.
This morning you were headed out the door, but before we said good-bye you asked me a question.
Do you want to get lunch together this week?”
“Yeah, I do” I answered, trying to play it cool. “That would be great”