I've been planning on writing something along these lines for months in honor of our 30th wedding anniversary, and it has taken me that long to try to figure out how to write it. But how do you comprise 30 years of marriage into a short blog entry? How personal do you get? Do you just focus on the funny things? The romantic moments? Or maybe just list all the embarrassing times, such as when the cop knocked on our car door window, pointed to the ground and asked, "Is that your underwear?" Well, maybe I'll leave out the embarrassing moments.
So I started jotting down notes and this is what flowed out. Of course it doesn't tell the whole story, but like the title says, it's notes on our lives together.
Our Wedding, 30 years ago.
On April 8, Karen and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Thirty years. Wow! How we have changed. How we have grown up.
We were just kids when we met. Just kids when we ran off to Reno to get married. We were just kids when we had to come back home (unmarried, because we weren’t old enough to get married) to face her dad.
We were just kids when we finally did get married. Just kids when we had baby Number 1 ... and baby Number 2. We were just kids when we lost baby Number 3. And still just kids when we had baby Number 4.
Shortly after Rebecca was born, Baby Number 1
We were just kids when we took baby Number 1 to Shriners Hospital where she would spend much of her first few years. We did a lot of growing up in those years. But we were still just kids all the while Karen stood next to the hospital bed and nursed baby Number 1 while she was in traction for weeks. We were just kids learning to be parents while baby Number 1 had more than 40 surgeries, including a leg amputated, her spine fused and had to spend a week in ICU, intubated, scared and confused. We were just scared kids then. All of this drew us closer together, but matured us beyond our years.
We were just kids when we adopted our two youngest babies to complete our family. We were just kids with kids until we weren’t. Somewhere along the way we grew up -- emotionally and physically. I’m not sure when, but looking back we went from carefree youths to worry-some parents overnight.
We were teens when we were married. Teens when we had babies. All the odds said we wouldn’t last and, a few times, we almost didn’t. We were told before (and after) we were married that most teen marriages don’t last more than five years, so we made it our goal to last at least five years. It was rough at times, but five years came and went. Babies raising babies. Karen learned to cook and do the shopping, and I learned to go to work everyday.
The early years were hard. But without them we wouldn't be who we are today.
Year 7 was a hard year, as was year 9. The odd years always were harder for some reason. The years flew by. We lived and loved. We fought with each other, and for each other. We grew close and we grew apart. But mostly we grew up.
Then year 19 happened.
I think every marriage has a life-or-death test that it must face at some point, and for a few weeks one April we had our test. Things were so bad during this time that a marriage counselor told us we had done everything wrong our entire marriage and we probably shouldn't be married. That we were better suited to be "just friends." Now that's hopelessness.
When everything said we were ending, I guess God stepped in and fought for us. Through all the pain, anger and loneliness we went through during those weeks, we began to talk. Really talk. It hurt, but we said what was on our hearts. And we listened to each other. Somehow a new love began to blossom. Out of that trial by fire, Karen and I grew closer than we ever were or could have been if we hadn't gone through it.
Before that April we took each other for granted. Since that April I think we appreciate each other more every day. We still fight. Still argue and say things we shouldn't. We still have to work at our marriage every day. But everyday we are beating the odds of teen marriage and growing more in love. Making that marriage counselor and all those who told us we would never last, eat their words.
Oh, we did take some of the marriage counselor's advice though, we became best friends. Or as they say nowadays, we became "friends with benefits!"
The years since that April of year 19 have also flown by. Our kids have grown up (probably faster than us -- and are a lot more responsible), We've lived in a lot of places, including a farm, a desert, and a motorhome in the city with five kids, two dogs and a cat. We tried to go home again once, but learned you can't. And now, year 30 finds us in Hawaii, with one daughter still at home, another daughter who is married and living on Oahu. A son living in Portland, Oregon. Another son who is engaged, and our youngest son who just got engaged and is a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marines and is being deployed to Afghanistan in the fall.
But truth be told, Karen and I are still those two kids from 30 years ago. We run, ride bikes and play in the water every chance we get. Just like kids should.
It's been a wild and crazy ride so far. I can't wait to see what the next 30 years bring.
A few months before Karen and I were married.
Look at those guns! BOOM! BOOM! lol
After many operations, Rebecca in a full body cast for a family portrait.
Dad and the kids walking to Disneyland.
The family a little more grown up.
Remember When - Alan Jackson
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