It has been 21 years now since you said “I do”.
21 years is a long time. We were only 22 (you) and 23 (me) the day we got married. It’s a day that I will always remember and celebrate.
I’ll always remember our first date as well. We went to Souper!Salad! I knew you were a vegetarian and so…salad. It wasn’t awkward at all trying to pick stuff out of our teeth on the sly as we ate and got to know each other. I noticed your tongue ring for the first time that day as well.
After picking at our very vegetarian salads (as well as our teeth) we climbed into my air-condition-less Pontiac Firebird and I drove you to your house. We kissed for the first time and I drove away wondering if I would ever come down from the clouds that I was floating on.
Thank you for going on that date with me.
Thanks for being kind to me despite the fact that I chose Souper!Salad! to be the venue for our first date.
I thank you for that first kiss and all the rest that were to come.
I remember the first time I told you that I loved you. We were outside of your house again and you were walking away to go inside. I hate to admit it but, yes, I whistled to (at) you (I feel the embarrassment now but, might as well be honest right?) and, most likely motioned for you to come back.
You did, because, for whatever reason, you could look past all of my idiosyncrasies and still want to be with me. I’m sure I had a grand speech rehearsed but (and I actually don’t remember fully what I said) I’m certain I probably just blurted it out at you and closed my eyes hoping I hadn’t just made a major mistake (we had only been dating for a few weeks). You said you loved me too.
Thanks for seeing me, even when I couldn’t see myself.
Thank you for accepting my love at that moment and giving it back to me.
I thank you for loving me then and throughout our lives together (especially when I didn’t make it easy for you to do so).
I remember the first time I proposed to you. It was on the 4th of July in the parking lot of the apartment building I lived in. I didn’t have a ring, but you still said yes…once I got a ring. We sat on the curb that night, next to my Firebird and talked about what it would be like to get married. Should I ask for your dad’s blessing? Who would we tell and when?
I remember the second time I proposed to you. We were at a park (a small step up from the parking lot) where we brought our order from Taco Bell (again, I knew they had vegetarian food) to eat. I had a ring this time (thanks to you and your good credit – though I did make all of the payments…). I proposed. You said yes. I made a comment about spraying anti-critter on my knee because there were ants all over the ground. Eloquent as always.
Thanks for wanting to marry me enough to accept my romantic-in-my-own-special-way proposals.
Thank you for showing me that you loved me for me, even if I am only now just starting to understand that.
I thank you for your kindness and gracefulness and all the other beautiful attributes you had and showed in choosing to be with me for the rest of your life.
I remember the day we got married. It was hot. It was beautiful. It was busy and I remember not knowing what to do or how to act; I tried to follow your lead (particularly when we were dancing together).
I remember our first dance as a married couple. We danced to Stand by Me. I told you that, ‘I couldn’t wait to marry you.’ I said that to you a lot over the previous year; I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to be married to you. I couldn’t wait for everyone to know. I couldn’t wait.
I remember we stopped at Jack in the Box to get food to eat back at the hotel we were staying at for the night. I think you picked that – It didn’t seem like a vegetarian place to me. Breakfast Jack without the ham though…pretty damn good vegetarian food.
Thanks for saying, ‘I do’
Thank you for agreeing to be with me for better or worse.
I thank you for marrying me and eating Breakfast Jacks on our wedding night.
It was just the two of us for a number of years after we were married. We both started careers and tried to navigate our way through the adult world. We bought a house. I eventually convinced you to let me get Directv (it took me getting a promotion to do that). Black Belt Jones joined us and kept us entertained in lieu of having kids.
We hung out with friends, went to family dinners, and ate many a plate of nachos (vegetarian) at Streets of New York Brewery. We went to Hawaii with your family. We went to San Diego, and LA. A trip or two to Las Vegas (as far as I can remember). We went to Seattle and Portland. I wanted to move there then – a few years down the road we did.
I was excited to move to Portland. I wanted to be somewhere with seasons and I liked the more relaxed vibe of the city, I think we both did. I wanted to get into the brewery business. You supported that dream. I never tried, I didn’t believe in myself. I was too scared to try.
Thanks for agreeing to move to Portland.
Thank you for going to a new place where we didn’t know anybody and showing me how it was going to be okay.
I thank you for believing in me when I didn’t.
I remember the day you went into labor with Burke. It was early in the morning and I was scared out of my mind but trying to keep it cool. I remember you took a shower before we went to the hospital; that was not at all how it happened in the movies! I remember thinking that I hoped that I wouldn’t pass out during labor.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. I was in awe of you. You were so strong and determined and then…we were parents. I felt so proud and lucky to have you, to have Burke. I remember having to wake you up that first night because my first attempt at changing Burke’s diaper didn’t go so well. You were up and handling it with the grace that you showed in so many situations.
I remember, a few years later, when you gave birth to Fritz. We had been at the hospital all night long and you kept putting off getting an epidural (I begged to have one several times but was rebuffed by the nurses each time). I remember that around 8:00 a.m. you decided that the pain was getting to be too much. They started to give you the shot but…too late. The labor was fast. I was in awe of you again but not until much later; at the time I was absolutely terrified. I could see how hard you were pushing and I could only think about you hurting yourself and wondering how in the world I could ever raise two kids by myself. I’m not sure I could have then.
The strength you showed and the love that exuded from you in bringing Fritz into the world despite the pain was truly amazing and, again, I was in awe of you. You were beautiful to watch, even if I didn’t always recognize it at the time.
Thanks for the gentle nudges you gave me towards us starting a family.
Thank you for bringing these amazing boys into the world for us despite the pain and fears.
I thank you for being their mother and imparting so many of your special attributes to them; I love seeing so much of you in them.
I remember life got really busy then. Work. Kids. Our relationship. Our personal growth and changes. You never asked me to be perfect, just present. I needed to be perfect and couldn’t, it was hard for me to be present then.
I remember you stuck with me even when I wasn’t very present.
I remember the good times we had together.
I remember playing Rock Bank until the wee hours of the night. I remember going to so many fun concerts with you (and even the kids at times). I remember planning the trips we went on and crossing my fingers that the hot tubs would be working when we got there. I remember getting caught in a down pour while walking through an old cemetery in New Orleans, only days after I took us to play miniature golf at 11:00 a.m. on a blazing hot and humid day (we were, not surprisingly, the only people playing that day). I remember the restaurants we went to here when your parents came to visit and spelled us for a night. I remember all of the fun times we had in Bend.
I remember the harder times as well.
I remember the day you passed away, though I sometimes wish I didn’t.
Since that day I’ve dreamt of you a number of times. There is always a moment in the dream where I realize that I am with you and I’m overcome with the need to hug you and tell you how much I love you; to tell you these things and hold you so tightly so that you know, so that you know I always loved you and alway will. I cry every time because part of me knows this moment is fleeting.
I like to think, though, that there is some part of me that is actually hugging some part of you, and that you hear me tell you how much I love you.
Since that day I have spent a lot of time looking inward and trying to see what you saw. I see it sometimes and sometimes I don’t. I thank you everyday, though for choosing to spend the rest of your life with me. I wish I had been able to let go of some things while you were here but I’m trying to do it now for the kids and for you, as well as for myself.
The first time I saw you, you came into the bookstore I (we) worked at in Phoenix. You were with your mom and you were exchanging a book. You told me that you worked there. I didn’t argue, despite the fact that I hadn’t seen you before and had been working at the store for two months.
The last time I saw you I was wishing you a happy birthday and we kissed goodbye as I headed off to work.
Most every morning I start the day off looking at our engagement picture and thanking you for choosing me to marry; for bringing the kids into the world; for loving us and inspiring us.
Most every night I stand outside and look up at the sky and tell you about our day and what I maybe learned that day or what I might be struggling with.
Sometimes I think I see you in the clouds or in the stars.
Sometimes I feel you close by.
Sometimes I hear things in my mind and wonder if it’s you speaking them.
Sometimes I get a craving for Souper!Salad! and have no doubt that you are exacting your revenge on me for that first date.
I believe you are around us and I believe that you are watching out for the kids, your family and friends and me (except when I’m eating non-vegetarian nachos).
I thank you for this Teresa and I thank you for all the time that you chose to spend with me.
I thank you for saying, “I do” 21 years ago and, I hope that whatever comes after this that you will say it to me again.
I miss you forever and love you forever.
Happy Anniversary Teresa.