10 years...an entire decade. It seems like a long time and, yet, not long enough. Our decade together has been filled to the brim with joy and happy memories, great trips and shows, quiet moments and cuddles, and heartbreak and sorrow. Through it all, I have learned immeasurably about love, sacrifice, and family.
I still remember those moments, exactly 10 years ago to the minute, when I was waiting in my white wedding dress to be escorted down the aisle. I wasn't the least bit nervous or unsure, confident of the 22-year-old versions of us, with just a touch of anticipation. I was so excited to finally begin our life together, to set off on new adventures, to wake up with you by my side. Those first years were relatively carefree. Don't get me wrong, we both worked hard, but we had no major stressors, and a lot of fun. Weekends were spent lounging by the pool, visiting with friends, studying or playing golf, and getting to know each other.
And then came some hard years. Years of infertility, of wondering if our hopes of ever having children would be fulfilled. You held my hand as I sobbed over another failed month, more negative results and bad news, and countless tests. You stood by my side, never once blaming me for what my body was failing to do, encouraging me even when I refused to listen to what you said.
And then we celebrated pure joy, as we planned and prepared to bring our daughter into this world. I loved watching your face as you talked about your little girl, as you played with my hair while I napped, as we planned out her room. And then she was gone, just like that. And we both learned so much through the pain of her death. Some of my most tender memories are with you during those weeks following. I remember how you held me that night before she was born, sleeping for the only time in her nursery. How you rubbed my back through my contractions, reading scriptures to me to calm me, loving us both so perfectly. And I remember the expression on your face when you saw your daughter for the first time, as she was laid silently in my arms, pure love.
You were just as supportive when I was pregnant with Dean and Warren - in an out of the hospital several times, on bed rest. You handled all the cooking and cleaning during that whole time, in addition to your job and managing doctor appointments, and never once complained. You were pushed to the brink of your comfort zone during those months and learned far more than you ever expected or wanted to know. And yet, every night, you cuddled up with me in that hospital bed, holding me tight, praying over your children.
Ironically, it was the months and years after we brought home the boys that would test us the most. The sleepless nights, the stress of feeding, the colic and crying and crying and crying (and crying..), the years of isolation and inability to just settle into "normal," the therapy appointments, the weekly goals, the growth chart. Having children instantly exposed our weaknesses, and how much we need our God. We're still in this stage of learning how to love each other well while balancing the demands of some very demanding kids. But, there is no one I'd rather have by my side, for any of these moments. No one else I want to fall asleep with or wake up next to. No one else I want to share my heart with. I love you for your ability to make me smile, your strength when I am falling apart, your desire for good things for your family, your devotion to your children, your work ethic, and mostly for how you lead our family. Always & Forever. Happy 10 year anniversary to the best husband and father a girl could ever ask for!