Yesterday, you turned 30 years old. Three decades of life and I’ve known you for just half of one–been with you for only two years. How can that be? How can all this bursting love begin to fit into the past two years?
Time is fast. Because last year on your birthday? You got down on one knee. One knee on the unusually warm late-December ground, and you told me you’d love me forever and you asked me to be yours. I grabbed your face and whispered yes, a thousand times yes. Because I had waited for you forever.
I remember when we first started dating and my jaded, bruised heart told you not to promise anything big because there are no guarantees. I told you that you’d probably hurt my already-battered heart because there are no guarantees. You hated those words and you told me I was wrong. But I was convinced because I’d only known selfish, immature boys who made promises that they could never keep and plans that fell apart. Then, you. You didn’t waste your breath on superficial promises and words, you wasted your time instead.
You wasted your time spoiling me and you spoiled me with your time. You gave me the space to peel back my blistered soul, so many aching layers, and reveal each one to you. And you’d tell me, gently, that you understood. You still do.
Riley, you so impress me. I can never forget the night you first talked about your dad. How it was cancer and it was sudden and it all happened so fast and then he was gone and your family was a puddle. How you took on the responsibility of joy-bringing, how after your shifts as a teenager at the local grocery store, you’d buy candy and snacks and rent a movie and bring it all home to your aching sisters and heartbroken mama and try, gently, to bring laughter again.
And bring laughter you did. And you do. Your sense of humor is unparalleled. No one, ever, makes me laugh as hard as you do. Just when I think I’ve caught my breath, just when I think the giggling-induced tears have stopped streaming, you say something that sends me right back. I love this about you.
I’ve come to learn that it’s not the big moments in our marriage that tie us together; no, it seems to be the little ones. When you reach for my hand at dinner. When you tuck my hair behind my ear before we fall asleep. When you kiss my forehead before you leave for work. When you bring me daisies because they’re my favorite. When you track my blog stats and tell me how proud you are. When I hear you cooing at Charley from the other room. When you make the bed each morning and turn it down each night. When you pour a glass of water for me and leave it on my nightstand. When you hold my body close to yours and pray long and hard over me. When you clear the table after dinner. When you sign “I love you” as you drive off to work. These are the marriage makers. Thank you for taking the time.
And all these nights lately where my face is red hot and big salty tears are pouring down my cheeks, you bring the tissues and the truth and you gently comfort me. You ground me. And when I don’t want to hear it and your voice of reason sends me flying off the handle because I feel sad and I want to feel sad and you’re not validating me!, you whisper that you’re sorry and hold me still. You must know what I never do in those moments–that dawn will break and the pain will ease, and I’ll be the one asking for forgiveness.
You indulge me. You know I was born with a mama’s heart, so you talk to me about our future babies. You dream with me. What will they look like? What will we name them? What will it be like to be parents? Though my womb is empty (by choice), you allow me to dream with my mama’s heart. This is a reason why I love you so much. Also? You’ll be an incredible dad.
On our wedding day, your eyes held my entire heart as I walked down the aisle. There was such joy in that moment, not an ounce of fear. No doubt. You can read it all over my face in our photos–I knew then what I stand by today–that walking to you and then choosing to walk with you are the two best decisions after Jesus that this girl has made. I’ll never, ever regret I do. Even in the thin moments, when our oneness leaks and we feel a lot like two, I’ll still choose you. I’ll always choose you.
And so, to you, my favorite person, my Riley, I say Happy, Happy Birthday. May your next year of life bring you into a deeper understanding of the God we love and a heart that’s becoming more like His with each passing day. I love doing life with you. I love you.
all photos by Sonja Dinanno