Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 9-year wedding anniversary.

Nine years ago, on a lovely yacht in Newport Beach, Jeff and I exchanged our vows in front of 60 family members and friends.

It was a beautiful day. We were happy. We were healthy.

We promised to love one another unconditionally.

Last year, one month before our 8th-wedding anniversary, our lives were forever changed.

But one of the constants throughout our entire marriage has been our commitment to the vows we exchanged on this day nine years ago. I can honestly say that the vow I spoke in 2005 means more to me today than it did when I first promised it. Not that it wasn't meaningful at the time - I guess I'm just experiencing the full power of it now.

I remember back to when Jeff was first injured and was lying in ICU. After the doctors and nurses tended to him in a rushed, systematic blur. After he was hooked up to machines, breathing tube in place, pulse ox secured onto his finger, IVs taped down to his skin. One by one, the doctors and nurses had left the room, and left me standing, alone, next to my husband.

I watched his chest rise and fall in an unnatural, forced pattern. I looked at all the blinking lights and numbers on the monitors with a foreign stare. I watched his face as a mixture of saltwater and sand drained out of his nose. I slowly searched for a tissue, then with a gentle, unsteady hand, wiped him clean.

I was on the verge of either losing it completely or somehow pulling myself together to face this awful situation.

I distinctly remember thinking and saying quietly, "This is the "for worse" part. This is what the "in sickness" part really means."

And in that moment, I felt the full power of our vows rush over me. Because I knew, with every ounce of my being, that there was nothing that could pull me away from my husband. A life-changing injury was staring us in the face, and walking away from it simply wasn't an option - in both the literal and figurative sense. I was rooted in my position next to him, and for the first time, truly understood the meaning of making a promise to love someone unconditionally through everything that comes our way in life - including through sickness and in sorrowful times.

To me, it wasn't a choice. I didn't mull it over in my head then finally come to the conclusion that "okay, I've decided to stick by you through this."

It's just something you do when you love someone. Period.

You just never imagine - or at least I didn't - when you say those vows, that anything so incredibly challenging will ever cross your path.

I meant it when I said it, but I didn't fully understand the meaning until I lived it.

* * * * *

This is probably my favorite picture from our wedding day. So being the nostalgic, photo-loving gal I am, I wanted to try to re-create it today.

Here's the best of the bunch:

The only problem is I started getting the giggles as my mom was taking photos of the two of us.

And I couldn't stop laughing.

Here's what the other pictures looked like.

I don't even know why I was laughing. I think Jeff made a funny face at me, and it just snowballed from there.

My uncontrollable laughter was a good reminder that even though we may have experienced more of those "in sickness" and "sorrowful" times in the last year than we have during our entire relationship, there's still plenty of room for "good times" and "joyful" moments.

Luckily our afternoon and evening were filled with those moments as well.

We decided, on a whim, to go out to dinner. It was Jeff's suggestion.

Just the two of us. To celebrate us.

It was also our first time to a restaurant since the accident. So it was kind of a big deal.

Actually, it was perfect.

The best anniversary we've had in a long time.

We had great conversation, great Mexican food, and great margaritas.

For the first time, it felt like we were "us" again - if that makes any sense at all.

We came home to my Mom and Evie waiting for us, smiling and playing in the front yard.

And as I'm typing this, Evie is eating her snack on my bed and Jeff is content and wiped out from our day.

It's almost like old times.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. We are so fortunate to have one another.

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