Eighteen years. That sounds like a long time, but it’s not. Not when you think about it. Eighteen years is nothing.
It’s hard to believe that eighteen years ago we were just two ordinary people with two very different last names. It’s almost hard to conceive of a period before we were together.
I look at old photos of you and me, and I marvel at how we’ve both morphed over the years. Somehow you’ve become more lovely, more poised, and your skin looks too smooth for your age. Somehow my nose had gotten bigger. So has my butt.
Sometimes I travel backward in my memory and try to recall what we were like when we first met. Do you ever do that?
I close my eyes and attempt to remember how naïve I was. And I try to recapture a little bit of that boy I used to be.
God. I miss being naïve. I miss being stupid, unafraid, and even foolish. I was less worried about little things back then. I was braver. More trusting. Dumber, yes. But I also laughed more. Even when the world looked like it was falling apart, I managed to laugh often.
But somewhere along the way I grew up. I became more cautious, more responsible. In some ways, I’d like to think I’ve improved with age, over these last eighteen years, but in many ways, I’ve become stiffer.
Even so, do you know what hasn’t changed in the last eighteen years? Us. We are still you and me. We are still Sean and Jamie.
When we first met, you were balm to my broken heart. I had a pitiful childhood fraught with the suicide of a parent, violence, loss, bereavement. Then, all of a sudden, I met you.
Overnight, my world got bigger. My mind shifted into a more beautiful place. Suddenly, this life wasn’t dark and hazy, it was sunny and kind. Because I had you.
We spent nearly every day together for that first half a year. And when we weren’t together, we were running up your mom’s phone bill.
On the day of our wedding, it was the six month anniversary of our meeting. It was the quickest wedding in Baptist history. Everyone in the church was suspicious of our haste and suspected pregnancy was involved.
Elderly Baptist ladies were always staring at your stomach, asking if you felt nauseous, and wondering if you needed to confess anything. But the joke was on them.
The simple truth was, we were just right together. That was all there was to it. And even at my young and foolish age, I knew it was right.
The past two years have been the hardest we have endured as a married couple. We have lost loved ones. We lost your mother. We lost normalcy. We lost a piece of ourselves. And at times, it seemed as though we had even lost our clarity.
But each morning I would awake in our bed with your two brown eyes looking at me. Sometimes there would be tears in those eyes. Other times there would be tears in mine. Some mornings, we’d hold each other for hours until one of us had to go pee.
And as the year got harder and harder, somehow, you and I got a little stronger.
And now I get it. When I was a boy, I remember old-timers talking about being married for sixty or seventy years, and how sometimes they didn’t know whether they would survive the hell of life.
I remember old people saying there were days when they had nothing left but each other.
It all makes sense now. I see what God gave me when he gave me you. He gave me the most powerful force in the universe, contained in a woman’s frame. It was the same force that made the planets, and flung the stars into alignment. The same awesome strength that created oxygen, water, fire, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, and the Atlanta Braves.
It was love. The same love that changes a man’s biology, and his spirit.
Ten thousand years from now, long after I am dead and gone, and the world has forgotten that I was ever here; long after my ashes have become mingled with the soil, and my bones have turned to soot, and all evidence of my life has been erased; there is one thing I know for certain. Wherever my spirit is in eternity, it will be with yours. Forever. Because we are Sean and Jamie.