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Happy 23rd Anniversary to My Beloved Bride

Personal 

Posted on May 30, 2016 by Blake Leath
"Happy Anniversary!" >8,395 dawns

Spring 1989—
Every Tuesday/Thursday at precisely eight o’clock in the morning for thirteen weeks, I find myself in a sea of more than one hundred beleaguered Baylor freshmen. I sit in the center of the classroom for “Earthquakes & Natural Disasters,” halfway in and halfway up. Three rows ahead—between me and the professor’s obnoxiously bright overhead projector—I see the back of your haloed head, perfectly lit when he flips the switch and casts transparencies describing lava, Charles Richter and tectonic plates. You are ponytailed, routinely late, and always in sweats. You look like Courtney Thorne-Smith’s sister and, naturally, I’m smitten.

October 1989—
Alone, as has been my pattern, I go to a cinema one Friday night to see Look Who’s Talking starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. I sit in the center here, too, halfway in and halfway up. Moments later, I notice you enter, accompanied by three or four girlfriends. I make a mental note, “Find that girl.”

Days later, after some ferreting, grapevining, scouting and recon, I divine your name. In my dorm, I find a yearbook of sorts, scan to the D’s and, jackpot, there you are.

One nervous and awkward phone call later, we find ourselves on a first date. It is Monday, October 16th. Starting at the suspension bridge overlooking the Brazos, we walk, make our way to the grassy bank, toss a football, and eat and laugh at Wendy’s for the better part of two hours. I have perhaps nine dollars to my name, worry that you’ll order more than I can afford, but eventually think to myself, “A girl who loves movies, runs post patterns in Levi’s without batting an eye, and scarfs down a burger and Frosty instead of a salad...where do I sign?!?”

A few dizzying weeks later, I describe you to my dad by saying, “With her, every day feels like Christmas.” (We shall later use that as an excuse for leaving our Christmas tree up year-round.)

For the next two decades, we’ll experience our fair share of April fools, but it remains a lifetime of thanksgiving.

May 30, 1993—
You make me the proverbial “happiest man alive.”

1992-2015
We live in the desert. We live in an apartment the size of a shoebox with two sheddy cats. You endure my “exercise” phase, during which Weider home gym equipment cannibalizes precious bedroom space in three consecutive residences. You support me when I teach taekwondo in the evenings for extra cash. You wait patiently for years while I continue school, ceaselessly reading and writing and studying and striving to become a more able and stable provider. We win some, lose lots, tread water, and move a few times. You hold the fort, pay the bills, and subsist on 5-minute nightly phone calls courtesy of my worn and faded MCI card while I travel more than 2,500 days in the first half of my career and our marriage. In time, God willing, you bring two beloved children into this world, the first whom remains the light of our lives and the second whom we consecrate to memory and commemorate with steadfast friends and a laurel tree that now stands twenty feet high in the backyard of one of your girlfriends whom accompanied you to Look Who's Talking twenty-seven years ago. In all things—travel, business, residency, relationships, hopes realized and dreams periodically dashed, you trust me. You follow, accompany, lead, stand behind, stand beside, or carry.

Despite my panoply of oddities and eccentricities, you—as in “Earthquakes & Natural Disasters”—perennially stand before me and, now, for me, too. Often ponytailed, frequently in sweats, sometimes late, but forever there. Faithful, true, kind, gracious, grounded, funny, whip-smart, encouraging, warm, competitive, mischievous. In sickness and health, always loving and cherishing and leading and serving and supporting me and countless others.

On those unfortunate but inevitable occasions when life, the economy, health, or people spat in my face and kicked me in the groin and burned my world to the ground and I found myself spent and rent and reeling and kneeling in ash and covered in soot, I have inevitably looked up and ahead to see that you remain, every time, my constant lighthouse in the storm. When the winds die and the smoke clears, you abide with a palmful of soil and seed as if to say, “It’ll be okay. God has a plan. Here, let’s plant this, pray, be patient, and see what is re-imagined or restored.”

Time marches on; seasons come and go.

And then one morning, up through the black arises a spritely shoot, then a meadow, then a forest.

It reliably works this way.

“It will work out. It always does.”

***

2016—
Though I accept we cannot predict the future, I remain optimistic about it. We are guaranteed no tomorrows, but as we lie in bed at night, I run my fingers through your hair until you fall asleep, gently remove your glasses from your warm face, place them quietly on my bedside table, lock up, turn off the lights, ready our home for rest, and give thanks to the good Lord above for one more day.

Perhaps tomorrow I will awake again, extravagantly blessed another time to be and do with you and buoyed by the hope that arrives with dawn.