“I love you more now than I did then”... a phrase I typically thought trite, cliche and overused. It usually didn’t make sense to me, as I remember the passionate feeling of love and affection I felt while dating and on my wedding day, and that intense feeling is hard to hold on to. What is it, the “in love” feeling lasts an average of 2 1/2 years and then the “real love” takes over? The love that takes work, time, commitment and dedication. Loyalty and faith.
Well, that phrase has grown on me perhaps and I get it now. Because I do love you Kevin, more now than I did then. What I knew about you then, 12 years ago as I prepared to marry you and become your wife, is that you were a good man, raised by a good, Christian family. I thought that we would have a nice life together, and I trusted you to treat me well.
But I didn’t know how our life would go, I merely anticipated and hoped. But now I know...at least how it’s gone so far. And because I know, I love you more.
I know now the kind of husband you grew into being - supportive, kind, proactive, generous. How you find me my slippers, and make sure the laundry is done and away. How you put your arm around me in church when you know I’m cold, how you tuck me in at night even though you’re so tired yourself. How you drive to Maggiano’s, an hour there and back, to get me my favorite kind of salad as a surprise dinner. How you make my coffee every morning and leave me a note in the bathroom, before leaving to work at a job you don’t love, so that the girls and I can have a comfortable life. I know now how hard of a worker you are, providing for our family for the last 12 years, day in and day out. I know now that when you earn extra money, you can’t wait to tell me about it as you always want to ease our financial burden.
I know now how you reacted to hearing we were Surprise! pregnant, not once, not twice but thrice. I know that you panic for only a few hours before accepting the twists and turns our life will take, and becoming excited.
I know now the kind of care you gave to me as I was carrying our babies. How you so lovingly held my hair and rubbed my back as I threw up, and then you’d clean up if needed, telling me to lay down. Any craving I had, you would fulfill. Every doctor’s appointment, you’d be there. Tucking me in at night, rubbing my back, telling me stories to relax me. You’d tell me everything was going to be ok, when I needed to hear that over and over again.
And when everything wasn’t ok, and Bailey was diagnosed with CF, and then Taylor with SPD, and then our 3rd precious child was taken Home before we ever even felt a kick...you were there. Strong yet sensitive. Telling me that it wasn’t ok, but we would be. Reminding me that you had faith enough for the both of us. I know now that when we had to put a breathing mask on Bailey at 2 months old and she’d hold her breath with her panicked eyes wide open...and I’d cry my eyes out thinking my sweet baby thought we were trying to hurt her...you would do it because I couldn’t. You did her breathing treatments and her “boppies”, before work and after work. You did the hard stuff because I couldn’t yet. And you were ok with that. I know now that when our second child cried for hours, for years, for seemingly no reason, bringing me to my wits end, you could handle it. And you did. And you loved her, and you loved me when I couldn’t handle it. You are an advocate, for our children and for me. I know now that as I was miscarrying our precious surprise baby, you grieved for that child, and for me, knowing the anguish I was going through mentally and physically. I know how gentle you were, and how strong.
I know now what kind of father you are. The 2am feedings, diaperings, soothings. That you help me when they get sick, and you change the sheets and refill the waters. That you never once said, “what did you DO all day, the house is a mess” but instead insisted I had the harder job as a stay at home mom. And you didn’t mind the messy house, and I believed you. Instead, you liked hearing of the special or mundane things we did while you were gone. You rush home, every single day, to be with your family. I know now how much love you give to the girls, that they can trust you and they look up to you. I know now that any man they will ever meet, will surely pale in comparison to their Daddy.
I know now marriage is work, not because I learned about that in premarital counseling, but because every day you and I make a choice. Sometimes loving comes easily, full of laughter and joy and fun. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing, to put one foot in front of the other to keep going. We had a rough season you and I, and I didn’t know if I even wanted to put one foot in front of the other. I felt like my feet were in cement and I couldn’t move. But you dug out the cement and did the work, and helped me move again. You showed me that marriage is a journey, ever moving and ever growing. I am thankful now that we have seen the dark, hard nights right along with the sunny, easy days because we got through it together, stronger. Commitment became more than a word, it was an action and we did it.
So maybe we're in the "real" stage of love - and I'll take it. I know now what I didn't know then - that this is better.
I know now.
But the sight of you in a black polo shirt and khakis still gives me butterflies. I still feel that excitement and passionate love I felt for you on our wedding day 12 years ago.
I am one blessed girl. Thank you Kevin Andrew, for all of your love and friendship. May the next 12, and forever more, be as full of the joy, passion, laughter, loyalty and "real love" as the last 12 have been.