Twenty-three years ago two children promised to love "until death..." It was folly, really. They were babies. He was 22. She was 20. They had known one another 9 months. What were they thinking? They had no idea what they were getting themselves into...
Twenty-three years. Three babies. Better or worse. Eight homes. Thousands of miles traveled. Richer or poorer. Hundreds of acquaintances. A precious handful of really close friends. Sickness and Health. Six dogs. One cat. An infinity of memories and moments...
I was the wide-eyed, innocent girl. And that naively optimistic boy has loved me better than I deserve. I owe him a thousand 'thank you's. But today, I will offer him twenty-three. Twenty-three 'thank you's for twenty three years.
1. Thank you for loving me all the time, no matter what. I know it hasn't been easy. And I don't pretend to understand it. But I am grateful, all the same.
2. Thank you for being a fellow gypsy. I have so many beautiful memories of our family, and of the two of us, in remarkable locales all over the world. Thank you for watching all those Rick Steves videos with me and listening to me wag on incessantly about mind-numbing minutia. You are a very good sport.
3. Thank you for being the sane one. I have never been qualified for the role. It has been nice to know that while I flit about erratically, experiencing my ecstatic highs and my abysmal lows, that somewhere there is a tether of sanity that will never let me be completely lost.
4. Thank you for providing for our family. I don't say it enough. How do I tell you what it has meant to be home with our little ones as they grew up? To witness the little miracles and discoveries. To teach them. To open the world for them. To read and play. I could never have done that without you. It means more than I can say.
5. Thank you for surrendering your suspicious nature with regard to food. Does this sound familiar? "I don't like that." "Really, how have you had it prepared?" Oh, I've never eaten it, but I don't like it." Or this? "I just can't eat squash. I don't like the name." :) Thank you for triumphing over your fear to become a fellow culinary explorer. And thank you for understanding how much it means to me to eat artfully prepared food in a beautiful place.
6. Thank you for being god of all things technological at our house. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to remain blissfully ignorant and still have computers, phones, iPods, etc... that work. :)
7. Thank you for our beautiful piano. Thank you for buying it when we were so poor. When we had nothing, you knew I needed a piano in my home. So many hours of pleasure and therapy it has given me. And, of course, as each of our children has grown up playing, the joy continues to multiply...exponentially.
8. Thank you for being a godly man. You haven't done it for me. But it does matter to me. I respect and admire your integrity and your piety.
9. Thank you for every art museum you have traipsed through with me. I know sometimes you did it entirely as a gift to me. But it seems to me that over the years you have developed your own affinity for them. Sort of. ;)
10. Thank you for all the made up words you sing to songs. I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me at first. Being a neurotic first born who needs things to be right, and who happens to remember every lyric she has ever heard, I cringed at your inaccuracies. But over the years, I have come to prefer your...ahem...creative take on things. You make me laugh.
11. Thanks for Pikes Peak. I know you thought I was crazy at first. But you were unwilling to let me be crazy all by myself. Thanks for all those trail runs at the Warner Parks as we prepared. For slanting rays of sunlight, wild flowers, chipmunks, deer, squirrels. Those still comprise some of my very favorite running memories.
12. Thank you for indulging my passion for books. I am a pretty thrifty shopper with my Goodwill/clearance rack wardrobe, but I do go a little crazy with books. Thank you for understanding how important they are to me and for not cutting up my credit card or exiling me from Amazon.
13. Thank you for spending New Years Eve in Times Square with Kelsey. What a glorious memory that will always be for her. I know your bladder will probably never be the same, but thank you for giving her that gift.
14. Thank you for snow boarding with Jake, and for dozens of cub scout camping trips with both of the boys. Thank you for teaching them how to be men.
15. Thank you for taking care of all things financial on behalf of our family. Thank you that I never have to worry my pretty little head about that. I trust you. I have complete confidence in your ability and your judgment. That is a wonderful feeling.
16. Thank you for opening your heart to Orthodoxy. I know that each of us has walked our own road to the Orthodox faith, and that it means something distinctly different to each of us. But I am delighted that we were able to go there together. I look forward to uncovering the riches of our faith over years and years to come.
17. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you that, even when we had nothing, we gave to others. I remember the first budget you drew up for us. I remember that the first line item was our tithe. It was never open for negotiation. I also remember that it was your goal for us to increase, not just the amount of our giving to others, but the percentage of our giving each year. This we have done. I believe God has honored that, and I highly esteem you for it.
18. Thank you for loving my family. Thank you that I have never had to choose between them and you.
19. Thank you for Bill Cosby, Himself. I love the DVD. But I have always loved watching you watch it even more. When you start laughing so hard you can hardly breathe, it doesn't really matter any more what he is saying. It's funny.
20 Thanks for being my partner in the delightful, magical, terrifying, difficult, bewildering, wonderful adventure of parenting. It has been (and continues to be) the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life. You have been a worthy partner in crime.
21. Thank you for forgiveness. Seventy times seventy times seventy times seven times. I wish I didn't require it so often. I hope there is still more where that came from.
22. Thank you for memories. Thanks for jokes only our family knows. Thanks for the stories and experiences that have become so much a part of the warp and weft of who we are we don't know where they begin and end.
23. Thank you for loving me all the time, no matter what. I know I already said that. But it is the most important thing. You have astounded me with your relentless love for me. I have fought it sometimes. Sometimes I didn't even want it. And I know I don't deserve it. "And this is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us..." Thanks for showing me what that looks like.
I love you...always.
**Originally published 14 March 2010. A sentimental favorite...in honor of the day. :)