Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Today I want to go back and take a walk down memory lane if you will indulge me. Many times in the course of our lives we hear old love stories, whether they are folks we know or not. Some of them are funny and some are sad while others are sweet but no matter who you are, you have a love story of your own. With that said, last week Johnny and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. We didn't plan anything major, instead we shared an evening of adventure at a local Japanese steak house. And yes chose to take the kids with us for dinner simply because they are our joy, our purest love brought to life and they have shared so much of this journey with us. We laughed, shared a few stories and simply enjoyed a great dinner with one another. I sat there as I watched Johnny interact with the boys thinking about earlier in the day when I began a letter to our children.
I 'd sat on the laptop typing Friday morning pouring over the story of our very own love story when I realized how much I wanted to share with our children, especially as we have entered into the ( BIG sigh, I don't want to say it) world of dating and girls. This deep desire to give them a direct line to their own history, the love that has gone into creating their lives today pulled at my heart and so the letter below is where I found myself Friday.
But before I speak to my boys, I want to say this: Johnny I am so thankful you took a chance on love 16 years ago. Folks thought we were crazy, clearly out of our minds, getting married before anyone had time to blink. But God had a plan didn't He? No matter what others thought, or even said when we weren't looking, God made a way, He had a design. You were His FIRST and ONLY plan for my life and what an awesome plan, what an incredible journey it has been so far! Johnny I love you more today than I ever have. You are strong, and bold and courageous. You are kind and loving and each day you become a stronger man of God. I am so blessed to have you as my husband and the boys as their father. And with that.....
Joshua and Micah,
We have been talking about LOVE AND MARRIAGE and where God’s place is inside of a marriage over the last few weeks at church, so today, on your dad and I’s anniversary, as we celebrate a year that has only made our marriage and family stronger, let me share with you where it all started and the story of how your dad and I fell in love. Boys, I know you are probably rolling your eyes right about now, thinking, “yuck “, " mom, really?" but the thing is this: you come from a long line of love stories, your Nana and Paw Paw, Your Apo and Ole, and your parents very own love story. Nope it’s not some grand Hollywood scheme or idea of love or even a happily ever after, but a real, it’s hard work, things get tough, “love, marriage, baby carriage” kind of story. The truth is all these stories of how your parents and grandparents found love are gifts, and one day you will understand how grand a gift this line of commitment truly is.
Boys, your dad and I met 16 years and 6 months ago. We were both very young and very determined to find and experience true love. I was only 22 years old and your dad was just barely 24 when our lives collided, crashing full force into one another. Way back when in “our day” we didn’t have open access to the Internet like you do now. A place on line like e Harmony wasn’t an option, so we resorted (after a BIG dare) to the dreaded Singles pages of the Houston Chronicle way back in 1995.
Your dad, Johnny, was a reckless kind of guy, my version of a bad boy if you like, in a very quiet kind of way and your Paw Paw knew this too as he stood by the front window of our home with binoculars watching us from afar. He knew this boy, was like no other he had run off before and that your dad had come to steal his little girl from him. See I had been raised in a very conservative, religious, Christian, sheltering home. I was actually the daughter of a soldier turned preacher. I was wide eyed and innocent to the ways of the world so when this amazingly, dark skinned, dark eyed handsome man walked into my life with his wild, mysterious ways you can bet he took my breath away. I was hooked and there was no releasing me from the bait. I was in all or nothing!
I have always said we were connected from the get go. I knew the moment your dad said hello it was my undoing. Deep down, we both knew our souls were meant to share this life together despite how far apart from ideal we were for one another. Your dad and I were as opposite as two people can be, two completely different worlds, cultures colliding. I came from a boisterous, Scott’s-Irish, Scandinavian family while his lived on an American Indian reservation. I was the pale face as he called me. A" blue eyed", the exact kind of woman your great- grandfather had warned him to never trust. I was loud, talkative; I hugged everyone, every chance I got, I taught kindergarten, chased little ones around all day, stayed home reading books and went to church every Sunday. Your dad, on the other hand was quiet, reserved, a non-hugger, worked in a warehouse, drove a truck all around town, couldn’t name a top 10 book to save his life, and you can bet your bottom dollar church definitely wasn’t on his weekly schedule of places he needed to be and boy did he like to party every weekend.
I had grown up here, there and everywhere, a real world traveler; he hadn’t traveled farther than Del Rio and had lived in the same house your grandfather built for your Apo, all his life. He liked red heads, in cowboy boots. I was more of a brainy girl with dark hair and sneakers. I was drawn to guys with glasses, on the skinny side, generally attached to a computer somewhere. Johnny really didn’t fit that mold at all, he was a football jock, a linebacker in the day, a popular guy who would have never looked my way in high school but when we met for the first time sparks flew, we knew there was no going back and there was never going to be another “us”. We fell hard, fast and married just six months later.
I won’t tell you married life has been easy breezy boys, because it has been far from it and you know it. We were young and immature, coping with life as best as we could all while life came at us with everything it had. But I can honestly say today after being married to the love of my life for 16 years, love is truly a journey. When your dad and I said in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, we had no idea what that really meant, or how life would test those vows we were making to one another under a tree canopied spring afternoon. Then January 2006 came along, barely 10 years into our married life when I was diagnosed with the breast cancer and all our lives where changed. Believe me when I tell you boys our love was put to the test but you want to know what LOVE has taught us? Sacrifice, determination, and being opposites aren’t always bad things. In fact those very things can be the glue which holds you together when all else fails. Your dad and I know this personally because our own love story defied preset ideas, paths, set out for us by the world’s idea of happily ever after.
Just remember no one’s story is ever truly at an end; we all change, we grow wider, shorter, our hair turns gray, heck it may even fall out! But if you see only with those outward eyes of yours then you may just miss out or even lose the love of your life one day. Love is about change, endurance and commitment to both God and each other. If your dad, had only been in love with who I was when we were young and not who I became as a woman in my thirties, we would have fallen out of love more times than I can count. Our love story continues to write itself, adding new chapter’s every day, why, because your dad genuinely loves me, my worst faults and all, he can see the real me, the woman he has grown to love deeper through the years despite what cancer has done to my body. Like any good love story, underwritten with tragedy, I have been pulled apart, cut, scared and sewn back together and even when I lost all my hair, when I woke up from a life changing mastectomy at the age of 32, your dad was right there, loving me, in spite of the physical changes taking place right before his eyes. Why? Because love is more than a feeling, it’s more than one chapter in a book, it’s a deeper knowing that you are not only meant for one another but a commitment to remind each other daily love is an ever changing, yet constant journey.
I know it’s awkward to think of your parents as being star crossed lovers, rebelling against all odds but that’s how fate, true love and the hand of God work. It's why time and time again young men and women continue to reinvent love stories for each generation. The truth is when doubt wants to rip you away from one another, when the world says you aren’t a fit because oil and water don’t mix, because cultural lines can’t be crossed, when no words can comfort, it’s real, true love that reaches into the deepest darkest part of you and inspires some very interesting adventures along the way. Every love story has a different tale to tell, but in each story you will always find two people stitched together, weaved forever in each other’s hearts by God’s grace. This is exactly how your Mom and Dad have written our own love story.