together

Circa 1994…not long before we were engaged.
So happy then and still happy now.

adverb: with or in proximity to another person or people so as to be united or in agreement

Twenty-four years ago, I walked into a high school gym to see the “new guy” play basketball. Word had spread about him quickly, and once I saw him running up and down the court, it didn’t take long for me to forget any feelings I had for my ex-boyfriend who was also playing that night. We didn’t meet that evening, but I soon found out that just because we weren’t formally introduced, he had noticed me too. (In fact, years later he would tell me exactly what I was wearing that night.) And as they say…the rest is a story of high school sweethearts who went on to get married, have 2 children, and move to the jungle. (This of course would be the short version.)

It’s been 18 years since I walked down the aisle — well, actually I tried to jog but my dad held me back– to marry Keith. It was one of the best days of my life, and a decision that I’ve never regretted. Oh, it hasn’t been a fairy tale. In fact, after six months of marriage, I realized that my life beared no resemblance to all those romantic movies I had seen. I was living real life, messy and complicated, full of bills and responsibilities, but I got to live it with my best friend.

The early years were filled with close friends, late movies, spur-of-the-moment trips, and the comfort of coming home every day to the person you loved. Then the stretching came. My belly stretched with the expectancy of a new life, and at the same time our hearts stretched and broke with the death of my mother-in-law. A grandmother taken just a few months before she held her first grand baby.

We left the comfort of friends and settled in another state. Life was painful for a while, but moved forward quickly, and we found ourselves with another sweet baby. One day blurred into another and soon we were raising our kids and helping to spiritually raise the kids at our church by becoming full-time children and student pastors. It was a season of life, I cherish. A season of growth – difficult at times – for both Keith and I, but we did it together.

Now, I sit at my computer typing from somewhere in the jungles of Ecuador. We won’t spend our anniversary eating at our favorite restaurant, or going to the movies, or strolling the beach hand in hand. In fact, we won’t even spend our anniversary together this year. Keith is working a village an hour or so away building a church.

But it doesn’t matter, because anniversaries aren’t about the celebrating the day you got married. It’s much more about the days in between: the days that you lose people you love, the days that you bring home a new baby, the days that you found out your checking account is overdrawn — again. It’s about the days that you don’t really like each other but fight to find a way back to love. Or the days when life is perfect and you share its tranquillity together. Anniversary days, and every day, are about the commitment to be hand in hand come what may. It’s a celebration of standing side by side for another year, whether beside a casket, a baby crib, a hospital bed, a sink of dirty dishes, or in the middle of the jungle.

Keith, I’m thankful today for our togetherness. I’m praying for many more years and many more adventures. I guess if I followed you to the jungle, I’d follow you anywhere…as long as we can always be together.

(Read more about marriage: Marry the One )

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