I can't believe it's been 5 years. Five years since we snuck to Panera for breakfast before our wedding. Five years since you sang our song as I walked down the aisle. Five years since we drove away from our friends and family to start a life together.
This anniversary feels so big to me, like such a milestone achievement. I know we have a long way to go, but five years in I feel settled. You are my family. You are the person I want to see most and spend time with on any given day. You are my go-to friend when I'm happy, sad, or feeling ten different emotions in one day. I would have said this five years ago, too, but today it means so much more than it did back then.
We've been through a lot in five years, much more than I ever thought we would. This last year seems like a distant, fuzzy memory in comparison to the last month. This month is the first time we ever grieved together. The first time we experienced a heavy loss. The first time a dream we had got pushed far away, out of our view for now.
Through our grief, you have been everything I needed. There are times when I've needed you to be my rock. Times when I needed you to comfort me and be strong, like the night you spent hours putting together the baby's room, two weeks after he had passed away. You shut the door and locked me out so I wouldn't have to hurt that badly. You shouldered our pain for one long, heavy night and gave me the gift of a beautiful nursery, put together perfectly, waiting for someone to fill in the empty spaces.
There have been times, though, when I needed you to NOT be strong. When I needed you to break down, and show me that you are hurting, too. That our loss means as much to you as it does to me. And you've done that so well. I'll never forget the night we left the hospital after our son passed away. It was harder than anything I've ever done, but I wouldn't have made it without you. In that moment, as we gripped each other's hands and let our words go unspoken, we knew we were in this together. That at the lowest of lows, we still had each other. I needed you to walk through grief with me, and pull me up when I couldn't help myself. And you have done just that.
I can't pretend that marriage is always easy, or that I'm (ever) the perfect wife. I can't say that we haven't had struggles in the last five years. But I can say that today, I know I am married to my soulmate. Today, I mean each word of those vows I said so many years ago. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part.
As a 19 year old girl, I didn't know what I was jumping into when I said those things. But now it's been five years, and we have lived life together through the greatest happinesses and the most insurmountable grief. Today, I say those words to you again, knowing full well what that means for the next 5 years - and the next 50.
It's been five years, and I still choose you. Today, every day, I choose you.
Photo above by Andrew and Tianna.