Every morning your alarm goes off at 6 am. I hear you slide out of bed and into the shower. I ease from my pharmaceutical induced sleep into first prayers. Danica pads in from her room and crawls into your still warm place under the pile of covers for snuggles. The sure whistle of the tea kettle ends our snooze. I force my aching joints and fuzzy head upright and shuffle to my nest chair. Within minutes Iím wrapped in blankets and warming my fingers around a favorite hand thrown pottery mug. I always close my eyes for the first sip of the life elixir you French press for me. I taste your care in the special mix of beans brewed with precision and the perfect amount of cream and sugar. We donít speak. The familiar and comforting aroma and taste greet me gently and say, ďGood morning, my love. I cherish you.Ē After you make breakfast for Danica you join me in the living room for ten minutes of together. You look across the room into my eyes and find the answer to the question of how you will feel for the day.
Last week I woke with a sharp pain around my shunt. You could tell I was wincing, and my breath would catch when the knife came. Tears welled up in your eyes as you told me what it feels like to watch me suffer. You said every time Iím hurting you are too. You said as hard as it is to be me, it is perhaps even harder to be in love with me. It is pain multiplied. You are powerless to make it stop or even a little better. You would take it from me if you could. I know this, but I would never suppose you could survive even a day of the ache Iíve learned to master over a decade. It is mine to bear and yours to watch.
Saturday night we sent our girls away to celebrate fifteen years of promises made. Delaney was disgruntled, and I told her she is old enough to understand just a little how a man wants a woman and a woman a man. I told her she is lucky her parents are still madly in love and wanting time alone. Our plans to dine at our favorite restaurant were cancelled because my brakes began grinding and scraping. We havenít been there for five years, since our tenth. We swore we would always make these milestones count no matter how poor but with the unknown cost of mechanics we didnít chance it. Instead we went down the road for a cheese platter and cheap red wine. It was a feast for us. We told our love story back and forth to one another. The waiter brought us a piece of chocolate cake to share. Iím sure he thought it odd neither of us wore wedding rings, yours needing sized smaller and mine with the big gaping hole where the diamond used to be. Broken traditions, symbols sold, no gifts exchanged or surprises planned, just our rare and enduring romance built on a foundation of precious things no money could ever buy.
We came home and danced heart to heart to the melodies of our personal soundtrack until there was no space between your body and mine. God talks about two being one. Most consider this hyperbole at best. Why would you ever give all of yourself to someone else? Why would you sacrifice every bit of power and protection over your own heart to be true to another? Why would you forgive betrayal? Why would you stay? Why would you keep staying when life would be easier almost anywhere else?
You buried your face in my war torn neck and told me I am the most beautiful woman in the world. You traced my many scars with your fingers remembering the hard fought battles they represent but also the Grace, the healing and the Hope. You say you love me for almost everything I am, not in spite of it but because of it. You stay because my heart is your home.
Seventeen years in love. Fifteen years married. And the band plays on.
(Photo by Grace Designs Photography. Used with permission. From our anniversary photo shoot five years ago. I love we are wearing our rings here.)
This is side A and B of a mix tape that tells our love story. There are many more songs, but this is a framework. Enjoy. (I apologize for the clunky YouTube links.)
Be inspired. Splurge on itunes to make a mix tape for your love. Sneak it on their ipod as a surprise or burn a CD for their car. (Am I the only one who still burns CDs?)
What are your favorite love songs?
Hero. Enrique Iglesias. (Our first song. Dan used these lyrics in my 40th birthday toast.)
Bless the Broken Road. Rascal Flatts. (What a terribly broken road we both walked until we found one another. No regrets. If even one thing had changed we might have never met or loved.)
I Donít Want To Miss A Thing. Aerosmith. (Armageddon was one of the first movies we snuggled up on the couch and watched together. I still cry when I hear this song.)
Your Arms Feel Like Home. 3 Doors Down. (For the first time in years I was safe. Dan was home.)
All That I Am. Rob Thomas. (Danís vows to me.)
Making Memories of Us. Keith Urban.
Better Together. Jack Johnson. (Good years. So good.)
Love Remains the Same. Gavin Rossdale. (We were both lost and wandering apart, but at the root we were still oh so in love.)
You Stay With Me. Faith Hill. (I broke promises. Dan forgave. Dan stayed.)
Let It Be Me. Ray Lamontagne. (Dan asked me to marry him again.)
For You. John Denver. (Our five year vow renewal song.)
These Are the Days. Sugarland. (Grabbing sweet moments.)
Steady As We Go. Dave Matthews Band. (Danica was broken, and we didnít know how to move.)
Dancing In the Minefields. Andrew Peterson. (We needed to love like Jesus to survive.)
I Wonít Give Up. Jason Mraz. (We couldnít imagine life would get any harder, and then it did.)
Broken Together. Casting Crowns. (By His Grace alone.)
Thinking Out Loud. Ed Sheeran. (Our Tucson Song.)
Better Days. Goo Goo Dolls. (Our continued anthem and hope.)
Dance Me To the End of Love. The Civil Wars. (Fifteen years. Still Dancing.)