...I married Chris at the bottom of my parents' garden in Louisville. There were a lot of things about that day that the perfectionist in me would change. All but one string of the fairy lights I'd envisioned strung around the backyard failed. The floating candles for the pool sunk. The small set of steps we built so that I could gracefully navigate the steepest portion of the hill in the yard nearly weren't wide enough for my father and me to descend together. I know now that these are minor details, but it's funny how they're the ones that stick with you. What I wouldn't change, nearly without exception, is everything that has followed for Chris and me. I'm not saying the past eight years have been without difficulty. Obviously, they haven't. We've had a number of changes, moves and transitions. There has been conflict and confusion, but very rarely about us, as opposed to the world around us. We have weathered unbearable sadness when myÂ mother died just two years into our marriage -- and, yes, that's one of the few things I'd change if I could.
The sum total of it, though, has been good. It has been more than good. It has been an exceptional experience. When you get married, you're so smitten that you imagine the big challenge ahead will be to maintain that level of interest and emotion and passion for the years ahead. What you don't know is that it gets so much better than that. That it gets weird and hard and deeper and more resonant and the attachment and respect and fondness grows so much stronger than you'd ever guessed possible. You fall in and out of love a million times, sometimes in the same day or week, but you always land in a better place. Who knew? I didn't.
I think back to that night eight years ago, when a relatively small group of our friends and family gathered and celebrated and danced the night away. I think of how everyone else's lives have evolved. Two of the people there died suddenly and too young, which seems statistically significant for a gathering of less than 50 people. But -- and here's the beauty part -- there were also two brand new lives there, even though we didn't know it at the time. Both my friend Beth and my sister Jane were pregnant. They have seven-year-olds now. Seven-year-olds!
Among our guests, some relationships lasted and others split apart. Some friendships slipped into the ether. Sadly, I'm no longer in touch with a handful of the people who attended, some of whom drove all the way from St. Louis to be there. So much has happened and so much has changed. We have been loved and supported by our families and friends and we couldn't have done it without you. So I thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart. Eight years. Can you even stand it?