Sunday will be 6 years of wedded bliss for Tommy & I…. I know that’s just a silly phrase-- wedded bliss-- but I feel like it’s pretty appropriate for us.
I’ve known Tommy for the better part of my life. I met him when I was about 10 at church, he met me, and we never really thought about each other again until I was 16. We became friends in late spring that year, and then we went both went to church camp together.... And I always say, “Don’t go to church camp to find a boyfriend/girlfriend,” but seeing as I snatched him up on that trip, I’m pretty sure my opinion is completely null and void.
I remember on our trip back on he told me that he didn’t want to kiss anyone again except his wife, and I remember sitting there silently thinking, “Well, then I’m going to be your wife because you ARE going to kiss me.” Persistent, much?
We dated for almost 4 years before we got married, the month after I turned 20 (that sounds so incredibly young and insane. Don’t go getting any thoughts, Abi Kate). And I am grateful for each and every one of those years. We had lots of time to form a deep friendship, to make tons of sweet memories, to form a clear understanding of how the other one operates, how communication works and doesn’t work in our relationship. We figured out each other’s quirks, so well in fact that Tommy often identifies what’s actually bothering me before I even really realize it myself…
It is fun to reminisce about particular dates and funny outings and landmark times for our relationship as it grew into something more than just friendship…. Like the first time he told me he loved me… He called me to suggest that we meet early for breakfast the next morning at Cracker Barrel. He sounded so distant and uneasy that I went 100% certain that he was going to break up with me. I had even started forming my responses on the drive over. And in due fashion, we got our times and places mixed up. So when he finally strolled in, I was sure that it was completely over. He acted weird the entire meal and I was so nervous I could hardly eat. Then, after we were done eating he dropped that horrible line that no one likes to hear, “I think we need to talk.” So we hopped in the car and drove to the parking lot next door where they were building a new hotel. It was quiet and there were no distractions. And I braced myself for the bad news, and started trying to hold back tears when he started talking about where our relationship was going. I assumed he was about to say, “Nowhere,” and here I’d been absolutely crazy for him the past few weeks, but instead he said, “Katie, I love you”. And then I really DID cry. Tears of happiness and excitement because Lord knows I was completely spent for that man months before.
I remember our wedding day, walking down the aisle at the church where "we" began and not being able to quite catch a glimpse of him for all the people in the crowd. I was so wound up it would’ve appeared I was nervous, but really I was just anticipating his seeing his face. That same excitement carried me all the way through our reception where we danced ourselves silly with a host of friends and family.
This October we will have been together for 10 years… an entire decade carved out for just us. I love our memories, big moments and small ones. I spent some time looking at pictures of us from years ago, before babies and weddings and engagements. I thought about these last 6 years, how we had no clue what was ahead of us when those pictures were taken. We didn’t know the joy of sharing in a life together. We didn’t know that excitement of anticipating new life, of working together as a team through labor, of falling so deeply in love with a creation that is both part of us. We didn’t know the journey of parenting together-- the moments where you feel like it’s an unending mountain and the moments where you feel like there’s so much joy your heart just pours over. We didn't know that sadness that we would experience, learning that grief could unite us even more deeply than joy. And I am so grateful that each of these moments has been shared with him.
At our wedding, his brother referred to him as a “man among men”. And he is. There are many things I love about Tommy. I love that he knows how to be a friend, that he invests in our relationship with time and intention. I love that he takes full responsibility for us and our well being. I love that he isn’t afraid of hard work and of new situations. He isn’t easily intimidated or easily impressed, reading people and situations clearly. He is patient and tender, free flowing with outward expressions of love. He is deeply invested in Abi Kate’s life, the big events and the small day to day things like what toy she prefers to play with, and he loves her in the sweetest of ways.
He is the man who easily calms my biggest fears with just his words. The man who prays over our daughter every night with such heartfelt gratitude and petitions. The one who committed himself to understanding the inner workings of labor and my needs so intimately that words weren’t necessary as we welcomed new life. The one who sends me messages nearly every day that he misses me and Abi Kate while he’s at work. He is the one who loves the little baby that does not share our home with such intensity, a child we will not meet on this side of heaven, that his sorrow at her loss was as tangible as mine. He is the one who knew exactly when to be strong for me and when to fall apart with me in the last four weeks. The one who has come home from working all day, for weeks, only to be welcomed by my tears and grief. And he was gentle enough to embrace that and encourage me to let grief and joy flow as they need. He is as quiet as I am loud, relaxed as I am wound up, intrinsic as I am extrinsic. And because of that, he creates a beautiful balance in our life and our love.
But what I truly love most about him is his constant love for the Lord. To hear him pray is to know his heart, and his faithfulness and trust in Christ is his most beautiful trait. He leads our family to the cross, and I love him most for that.
Our life is far from perfect, and so is this man that I love so deeply. He is chronically messy, so laid back that time and schedules usually don’t apply to him. He takes procrastination to a great new level ;). We argue like any couple does, hitting bumps in the road and doing the hard work to make them smooth. But those things are hard to dwell on in light of his character.
On our wedding night, after the excitement and partying and fun… when we were finally alone, he grabbed a basin and he washed my feet. And while he washed, he read the passage from John 13 where Jesus washed the disciples feet, and he spoke of his new role as my husband… that just like Jesus humbled himself and served his disciples, this is what he had set for himself as a goal as my husband-- to be humble and serve me faithfully. And he has done just that. I’ve heard him say before that he “married up,” but the truth is, I married up. I married a man who is far more compassionate, more merciful, more selfless, and more sacrificial than I am on all of my best days combined. I am inexplicably grateful to walk beside him in this life, to truly call him my best friend, and to share in the sweetest and hardest moments life has offered us together. I thought I loved him six years ago, but our relationship has found depths within these years that I never anticipated…
You, my love, you are the best thing.