It’s early autumn and Ronald Reagan has settled into his second term. On this day of consequence, I see her for the first time, leaning against a wall. Her hair is long, blonde, and sort of curly, and the light is shining through a window, bouncing from this to that and reflecting off her in a surreal, angelic way. I don’t know it yet, but she will soon become the love of my life.
I also learn before long that she is good and virtuous and mostly naive, while I am not. She’s unimpressed with the likes of me, but I try to convince and coax her to my side just the same. As beautiful on the outside as her inside is pure, somehow I know that she’ll see right through me, right down into the center of me, and realize that I’m wild and irreverent and untamed—and mostly tarnished.
Sure enough, she does; yet, surprisingly, she stays.
And so it is that we grab onto each other for the days ahead of promise and joy, and that surreal sunlight-filled day in September turns into a year, and a year into thirty—years that defined, honed, and crafted us both. We have become best friends and we continue to beat the odds, aiming to be the one in two marriages that ends in marriage. There are no secret strategies, no books we’ve read on the subject. We simply share a love that burrows itself in as a steady tug of the spirit or a permanent but easy tap on the shoulder; it is a forward soul-momentum that approaches a speed where we have to clasp hands and negotiate turns and just hang on. Sometimes we lean back, close our eyes, and hold our breath until it’s over.
Through it all, we nurture a shared language with origins in a secret place only we know. It is a certain type of romantic dialogue, I suppose, for, above the chaos and din of parenthood and responsibilities and adulthood in general, we hear each other without speaking. We’ve cultivated and perfected it over the years without even noticing, but our fluency allows us to acknowledge quick glances, recognize innuendo, and retreat into each other often. There, we occupy each other’s space without sacrificing individuality.
My wife makes everything beautiful—it’s just her way. She lights up a room, a day, or a life. In little and not-so-little ways, her personality, character, and smile alter moods and lift spirits. She is the mother of four and quite decidedly the hub of the wheel. She is the taskmaster and the coach who calls us in from the sidelines, grabs us by the shoulders, and tells us to get our heads in the game. She is literally a breath of springtime, a crashing wave of summer, a stunning mosaic fall kaleidoscope, and the dazzling purity of the first winter snow, all wrapped into one.
God knew our lives would be filled with glorious highs and rock-bottom lows and that our adventures would overflow with unparalleled wonder and magnificent colors. But He also knew that the only way we would ever find the fullness of grace and the sustenance to persevere would be if we were by each other’s side. It would only happen through our oneness.
All these years later, it’s true that she still sees right through me. I’d like to think that I’m a little less wild, perhaps more reverent, and certainly more tame. But it doesn’t matter, because she loves me and accepts me for who I am. She has been intimately and intricately designed for such a time as this, prepared through the seasons and the chapters of her own life to join with mine. And I with hers.
And for us to tackle it together.