10 Years Ago Today...
...I married the love of my life. Twelve years ago almost to the day, I met the love of my life (yes, John...that was you too. ;-))
We talked about what to do for such a big anniversary and toyed with this idea and that. And then what we came up with was just brilliant. Well, brilliant for John and me....you may read this and think we're nuts. I'm ok with that, simply because we are. ;-)
John surprised me with the chance to go to my favorite artist's home and choose any piece of art I want (Rachael Ryan). So a few things I need to point out: firstly, it was supposed to be a surprise and I ADORE surprises but for some reason I can sniff them out instantly and have, as of yet, to be surprised. Secondly, I have a budget I am not permitted to go over (dammit). Thirdly, it's not just choosing a painting. John knows me and knows that I'm not really into stuff, but I cherish experiences. Truly, experiences are what form our memories so that's way more important to me than a gift. That's what makes this gift so special: it's a gift AND an experience. We will take a bottle of wine (or 2) and take our time while perusing these paintings. I will ask Rachael all about the pieces that I gravitate towards. What inspired this one? What is the history of that one? What was in your mind while you painted these strokes? We will sip wine, we will laugh, talk and finally we will leave to come home with a painting that we picked out together, for both of us. Then we will open more wine to sip while we hang this painting and then my favorite part will come: we will sit next to each other, feet kicked up, resting heads on one another while we stare at our new painting and talk about the past 12 years of our lives, together.
Today is our actual anniversary but we will do this tomorrow. So for today, we decided a while ago that we should write each other a love letter. And so this morning, after coffee, getting the little one off to school and then scrambling to finish our letters, we sat and read.
And we've decided to share them with you. We're sharing them because when 2 people have this much love for each other, they should share it. It may make your bad day good, it may make you look at your spouse today with a touch more love, it may just make you smile. Hopefully it will warm your heart a bit (and not make you throw up from this much goopiness this early in the morning).
We are wedding photographers. We see couples the very moment their promise to one another begins. And if you play your cards right and if you give of yourself unconditionally, your 10 year anniversary just might look like this:
"I saw the door open and there you were looking as if you walked out of a 1920’s movie. There you were; my future wife, beautiful. That moment I knew I had made the best decision of my life by asking you to marry me.
Siting down to write this is extremely easy and remarkably hard. How does one place lifetime(s) into a page? Thousands of conversations, thousands of walks, countless bottles of wine, countless long dinners shared and one continuous journey.
You are my wounded healer, my soul scrubber, my muse. I see you as a warrior princess, or is it a princess warrior? They both feel right. You are a dreamer, a do’er, my wife, my best friend, you are an elegant lady, a joker, a gypsy, a traveler, a heart stopper, a breath stealer and the only thing I need to stay alive. You are my connection to the divine. I know I have said that many times and it's always true and I will continue to say it for lifetimes to come.
My love for you can be summed up in one word: grateful. Or better yet: grace. To be fully honest it takes lots of “grit” at times. I am grateful to be in love with you. I enjoy being in love with you every day of this journey and that must be what the meaning of grace is. The grit…(insert your own joke here).
It is that face, that smile, those eyes..it's the words you speak, it's the compassion reaching out from behind those eyes, it's that glorious touch (that I will never stop asking for). Your touch goes deeper than the flesh, your touch goes deeper than my soul, your touch is the connection to us.
The words completion and connection feel right when I think about you. Nothing comes alive for me until I share it with you. The truth about those words become truer every time I look across the room…..your eyes light up, you smile, you point your finger to your eye then towards your heart and then to me...I fall deeper in love every time (to infinity and beyond).
You never stop impressing me. I watch your talent grow, daily. I think you are amazing as a mother; your words to help Ella navigate life are perfect. You are a perfect work in progress… You are a healer through your work and through your heart, guided by your words. You have given me purpose to be, purpose to grow, our love for each other has purpose grander than either one of us can explain, but yet we know it to be true.
10 years, a lifetime to come...thank you for being my wife. You are loved.
P.S. Dropped from eternity, placed in your belly, then into our arms, Ella our tiny pink piece of perfection. Forever she will be the grandest thing that we will ever create together."
From me to John:
"Sometimes, when I look at you, all things become dismantled....I become dismantled. We shed our skin down to bones that disappear and then it’s just....light. One soul touching another until that light becomes so bright one cannot be distinguished from another. As it should be.
There are times when I am so touched deep in my being that I realize my soul is an extension of this universe...vast....connected....yet so intimate and so personal it’s as if what I am feeling we all feel at the same time. I feel a longing in my belly that reaches to my chest and overflows as tears into my eyes. Every cell in my body on fire and I swear if I were to be touched it would singe my skin. It is in those moments I think of you. I see your eyes looking at mine and I feel warm...like water must feel as it flows into whatever form nature needs in that moment. It flows....
And I see his face, as it looks back at me. To see that level of unconditional love...I never know whether to be grateful or scared. I suppose both. The weight of that responsibility, the lightness of that joy...how bittersweet.
I think of you all the time. You would never know that but I do. I’m awful at sharing my head. Even worse at sharing my soul but you know...I was built that way. It is a way that cannot be broken down in one lifetime. It’s a good thing you and I have been together a few times before and have many lifetimes to go.
I ponder your strength, your will. It is something I was not born with...something I have such a hard time understanding. You have a hard time understanding those without it. Somewhere in that middle we understand each other, eh? I thank my lucky stars for your will and strength, for without it our family would have been in shambles years ago.
The truth is we have never lost our newness, have we? So many times I have heard people talk of losing the love, losing the connection, losing the light that brought 2 people together. I have experienced it myself. Yet, I realized a while ago, surprisingly, or not maybe, that you and I have never lost our light. In fact, it burns brighter when we are together. Somehow it is more complete. I watch as so many couples mourn the love that once was. Sadly let go of the past excitement their relationship once held, as if knowing deep down that that is the way of love: deep, yet fleeting. How warm my heart felt to realize that our love has endured. Endured so much, yet has never wavered. It has never softened, never dulled. I believe at this point our love has its own pulse. It’s own heartbeat that beats so raw everyone in a room can hear it. They feel it and even envy it...but it is mine and it is yours. It is ours.
Today you said to me, after having been out for our afternoon drink, “You know what I like about me? When I have just a little too much to drink it makes me sappy for you.” Your glassy eyes stared up at me...all puppy dog. It’s those moments that remind me what a boy you are, in the sweetest and most innocent sense.
Other times your eyes are starry and full of promise. Promise of a future we can’t experience yet but we can both see and even taste. That’s one of my favorite things about you: though you are a realist on the surface, you are a dreamer in your heart. You only let that side out rarely and always briefly, but knowing it’s there makes me smile. It’s a bit of a secret that I know about you that you don’t even know.
And then, your voice is like deep mahogany or dark and rich, like the notes of a cello being played in a vast, cavernous room. Heavy in love, dripping with life...the echoing of far off places in your mind. When you share those moments with me I know to be quiet and listen. I know that those are the moments to savor. It is those moments when I can feel your soul growing into what has been intended for you. I see the universe in you on those days.
And so here it is. Our 10 year anniversary. I knew we’d make it and it doesn’t feel like 12 years that I’ve known you but I’m proud of us. The last 10 years has presented challenges that absolutely would have broken up most marriages. I’m so overwhelmed when I consider that instead of breaking us up, those mountains we climbed together brought us closer. I love you more than I can explain. I am more in love with you today than I was yesterday and I cannot wait to see how fully this love grows and magnifies in the years to come.
I am so proud of you, Love. The struggles, the strife, the joys and the woes. You have come through each shining brightly, ready to take on the next challenge.
What amazes me daily is how effortlessly you put yourself last in this marriage. While photographing a client recently, that was being photographed to present this gift to her soon-to-be husband, she asked what our secret was...what had we done differently that kept us together? And I thought for a moment and this is what I said:
“You have to love the other person more than you love yourself. And that may sound easy or it may sound obvious but it is much harder than you think. If I were married to any other man I would not have been able to do it. John is a living and breathing example everyday of putting yourself last, joyfully, to ensure his loved ones are taken care of. He is my example, daily. It’s because of his actions, daily, that I can attempt to put him before me. And it’s much harder for me, but having him with me everyday reminds me to be a better wife, mother and friend.”
Do you remember how many times I’ve said to you that I had so much energy as a child, just like Ella, but if I had harnessed that power effectively I could have probably conquered the world? Well I may not have had the strength to do that while growing up but I have it now, thanks to you. You gave me the gift of allowing me to live in my passion, to discover it, understand it, appreciate it and to finally control it and use it to bring happiness and joy, rather than fear and pain. You became my guide. You have always been my soft place to fall, graciously allowing me to fail, only to pick me back up, brush off and begin again.
You have allowed me to be me, unconditionally, patiently and lovingly. You have done more for me in the past 12 years to help mold the person I always knew I could be than anyone else in all my 40 years.
God brought you to me and I’d like to say it’s because He loves me so much but really, what have I ever done for Him? For some reason, He gave you to me. He brought you straight to me. You and Ella have been such gifts from the divine and I will cherish you both. I won’t question why, I will just love.
Everyone struggles. If you look at the lives around you, you will see that everyone has a time in their life when they are thrown to the lions, and they either survive or they don’t. But they are always given the chance for redemption. You will see that there is always a half life of each: one half of joy and happiness, one half of struggle and strife. My struggle and strife was on the front end of my life; yours, on the back end. And isn’t it funny that we meet right in the middle? Because of you I am no longer my past, and because of me you will never suffer alone.
Two souls, meeting in the middle, in love, acceptance, respect and most of all in happiness. For this and because of this I celebrate you. I celebrate 12 years of you and 12 years of me, growing together, loving together and reaching toward our future together.
Happy Ten Year Anniversary My Love. E"