I am incredibly excited to add a new Blogger to my rotation. I met Shelby Mathis while our husbands were stationed together in the Azores, and she has also come and worked on our farm! She will be posting every Monday!
I almost can't even believe I planned a wedding before Pinterest was a thing, but I managed somehow. I also can't believe we planned a marriage before we were 21. But we managed somehow.
Today is my wedding anniversary. My wedding day was a dreamy, anxious, exciting, and lovely day. Seven years ago on a cold, rainy spring day in rural Missouri, my husband, Lane, and I said our vows beneath a giant tree while my bridesmaids shivered and my dress train and satin sandals absorbed duck poop. And that's how it all began.
Our families and friends sat intermingled on both sides of the aisle. We'd known each other for over 5 years before we got married, so we had the same friends. Our parents basically went to high school together. Our grandparents had worked together.
I graduated college one Saturday before our wedding day. We moved to San Antonio, Texas where my husband was stationed in the Air Force on the following Thursday. By the end of our first month of marriage, my husband was packing his bags for a long deployment in the Middle East. Our first year of marriage was an avalanche and a glacier.
Thanksgiving was the first big holiday we spent apart. Then Christmas. Then his birthday. Then my birthday. Then I just stopped counting. Honestly, I don't even know how many holidays we missed together. The answer is enough.
I tried this morning to remember how many anniversaries we had celebrated apart. We didn't celebrate them very big anyway. It was sort of just a date on a calendar. It didn't feel as sad to spend it separately as Thanksgiving or Christmas felt. Maybe because we hadn't been celebrating it our whole lives. Maybe we didn't feel the pressure from our families. Maybe because it was in the spring and not the cold, dark winter that it didn't feel so depressing. Maybe making light of it masked my disappointment. I was just pretending I was fine, we were fine, everyone's fine.
I'm still not sure how many we spent apart.
This year, we're celebrating together. It's not a milestone or even a multiple of five. It's just seven. But it feels like 70. And it also feels like 7 months.
9 houses and 2 deployments and 2 transatlantic moves and too many holidays apart to count.
I've heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Maybe that's true for the traditional meet-as-adults-date-for-2-years-get-engaged-and-marry-the-following-summer type. That first year of deployment was hard, but that second year of putting back together the pieces of a relationship shattered by distance and growing separately and a faith shift, nearly broke us. It almost ended before it began.
But it didn't.
Military marriages are hard, and many don't survive. Young marriages are hard, especially as young as we were at 20 and 21. They say that marriages that last this long are less likely to end in divorce. It's a bit of a tipping point, apparently. This statistic really doesn't evoke a sense of triumph for me, only gratitude.
For all the moves.
For all the months of deployment.
For all the travels.
For all the ways we've grown together.
For all the times it should have fallen apart.
For the holidays spent together and separately.
For all the anniversaries we're walking through poop but celebrate anyway.
We have grown up together. We have been each other's best friend through moves and travels and trauma. We have walked through fire that refined us rather than spit us out as ash. The first two years may be the hardest of our marriage, but they also may not be.
Either way, we have something to celebrate today.
Having spent countless seasons apart, I'm sensitive to those who don't get to go home for holidays, and those spending special days apart. I'm thinking about those who endured Mother's Day yesterday, wishing it were different, wishing their moms were still around, that they were moms themselves, or that they weren't dealing with another pain completely distracting them from the occasion. I'm thinking of those whose marriages are at rock bottom, or have already ended, or that have yet to become real though they hope and pray for a partner every day.
May we set longer tables for the people walking through hard times -- walking through or into poop -- as we celebrate because we've already been invited to the longest table of abundant joy.