Once upon a time, a quarter of a century ago, I ran into a handsome young man in a local parking lot. Circumstances being what they were, we struck up a conversation that seemed oddly comfortable right from the start, like being near each other was something that had always been.
A year later, the handsome young man asked me to be his wife. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, but oddly enough, it didn’t come as a surprise. Because just like being near him seemed like a comfort and a joy that I had always known, marrying him seemed like a given…a foregone conclusion…the only possible end to the story that started one year before. Don’t get me wrong here. This is not to say that I took the handsome young man’s proposal for granted. I did not. Even at the tender age of 22, I knew that life was always waiting to throw you a curve ball, to keep you unbalanced in some way so that you might never get too comfortable, never get off your game. But way, way down, in the deepest recesses of my heart I knew. I knew that he was the one for me. The sun, the moon, the stars, and all of the beautiful fairy tales combined. I have always been a believer of “when you know, you know….when it’s right, it’s right.” Not once, not even for a moment, did I have to think about my answer. Not once, not even for a moment, did I have to stop and wonder if I was too young or too secure or financially ready to get married. Not once, not even for a moment, did I have to think about whether or not I was ready to spend the rest of my life with one man…with this man.
Another year later, the handsome young man stood at the front of a beautiful church. He stood there waiting…waiting for me. Waiting for me to walk down the aisle and stand beside him. Waiting for me to join him…to be one with him….to have and to hold from that moment on, always walking together, moving forward together, living our future together.
Has it been hard sometimes? Of course it has. Has it been frustrating sometimes? Of course it has. What I have learned in the past 23 years is that marriage is work. But so is anything worth having, worth nurturing, worth holding on to. I’ve learned that it always requires a 100 percent effort…it’s just that sometimes one has to be willing to give 95 percent and only take 5, and then before you know it you are getting 95 percent when you only have a little to offer back. It is working together, loving together, facing the hard and the ugly and the mundane together. And if the commitment to moving forward together is there, then the rest falls into place and the rewards are so sweet.
Twenty-three years later, the handsome young man is still the sun, the moon, the stars and all of the beautiful fairy tales combined. He may not be as young as he was then, but then neither am I. But he is surely as handsome, maybe more. And he is smart and funny and kind and a great dad. And he has blessed me with four more handsome young men. And I see him in them. And that makes me so, so happy. And when I look into his face, I can see worry lines from the times that were tough and smile lines that are the sweet reminders of all the times that we laughed. I look into his eyes and I see my handsome young man, the one who has grown with me and learned with me and loved with me. I fall into his arms and I am home. All of these years later…with my handsome young man.