I flipped through my wedding album last night in preparation for writing a post about my 11th wedding anniversary for today. I was caught off guard by how much had changed since those photos were taken 11 years ago.
Marriages have ended. Grandparents have died. Friendships have ended or dissolved with time and distance. Children have grown into adults with children of their own.
It may only be a small slice of a lifetime, but 11 years is more than long enough for entire lives to change.
There is of course always a level of comfort to be found in impermanence, but it’s also a little disheartening when you see it manifested in your relationships. We tend to assume our loved ones, whether family or friend, will remain beloved. Even the most cynical among us clings to this last shred of optimism regardless of evidence to the contrary. It’s what keeps us bravely forging new relationships, forgetting once again that the odds are in favor of an eventual end.
We try anyway.
And looking at my wedding album, I’m reminded of why we try.
Despite the faded friendships and the painful divorces, there remain a handful of faces that represent relationships that have survived the last 11 years. My mother. My father. Jared’s parents. My maid-of-honor. Our brothers, my sister, and my cousin. The years have changed them, but they are as much a fixture in our lives today as they were when we were 19. They’ve stuck by us through our foolishness, encouraged our grand adventures, and held our hands when we fell on our butts.
They are why we keeping putting ourselves out there with strangers.
Their love and loyalty give us courage and inspire us to open up our lives to even more.
Of course, it’s not just our parents, siblings, and select friends who have remained. It is, after all, our 11th wedding anniversary. We, me and Jared, are still here, too. Still in this marriage after more than a decade. We are even more in love now than we were at 19, and certainly more knowledgeable about what the hell it really means to be a husband and a wife.
We’ve stuck by one another through our foolishness.
We’ve encouraged each other’s grand adventures.
And we managed to find a way to hold each other’s hands when we fell on our butts.
It has, at times, been hard as hell. But it has been worth it.
I worry sometimes that the happiness I have in my life really is unique to my situation. I worry because you don’t have Jared, and I honestly can’t imagine sometimes how you do it. I’m sure that sounds silly, and maybe even arrogant. I don’t mean it to. The logical part of my brain tells me that happiness is possible without him, but my heart cannot make sense of that concept. He has contributed in some way to every single thing that is good about my life, from my children to my dreams and everything in between.
He is the reason that I try.
He is why I keeping putting myself out there, even when I am afraid.
His love and loyalty gives me courage, and inspires me open up our lives to even more.
Happy Anniversary, Jared. I love you. And thank you for, literally, everything.
(No, I’m not pregnant in these pictures. I was, however, just three months postpartum so those upper arms and extra chins are totally justifiable. One more reason to practice abstinence until after the wedding photos, kiddies!)