October 13, 1984 was the day, 2:30 in the afternoon was the time. I was 19 years old and Steven was 21. It was a crisp clear day in Springfield, Ohio. We got married in the church I grew up in, and the reception was just a few steps away in the fellowship hall. There were lots of pastel mints, triangular cut chicken and ham salad sandwiches on white bread, and assorted nuts to munch on. The wedding drink of the moment was Hawaiian Punch, rainbow sherbet and sprite swirled together in a fake crystal bowl! Steven and I were as big-eyed as the Precious Moments figurine people that sat on top of my white wedding cake with pink roses cascading down the sides.
We were excited and ready for our own great adventure as we to drove off towards a Tennessee sunset and a new life down south that we would dive into! (See what I did there?) We were 2 kids with $50 and a green Ford Pinto, thinking that love would take us a looooooong way, since that was what we would be living on!
35 years later TODAY…… Our “Happy Anniversary Baby ~ Got You On My Mind” day, I can tell you with absolute resolve, there has most certainly been some love lived on! While our gas tank was empty a lot of the time (notice that is a singular car not multiples), our tummies felt pretty full as we managed to actually live on love…and maybe some hamburger helper to supplement!
We’ve welcomed 6 children, 3 spouses and 6 grandchildren into our family. We’ve been to hundreds of birthday parties, thousands of school programs and more little league, basketball, softball and soccer games to last a life-time. The gymnastics meets, dance recitals and cheer competitions have filled our closets with ribbons and medals. We’ve followed and cheered on our boys from their first “Battle of the Bands” competition to music venues all over this country. Steven and I have yelled “Sic Em Bears” with Emily and screamed “Roll Tide” with Shaoey. We currently hold 10 high school diplomas, 2 College Degrees, 1 Master’s Degree and 1 honorary Doctorate between us.
There are awards with names like American Music, GRAMMY and Dove attached to them sitting on our shelves, a little dusty and marked with the year presented to help us “remember when”. I’ll never forget the year Steven won the American Music Award…it was being televised and was the only year the Christian music category was being announced on TV so I had stayed home with the kids. (Given the other names in the category that year we didn’t really expect him to win). He flew to California for the awards show, and when they called his name on TV as the winner I ran towards our TV screaming, laughing, and peeing my pants all at the same time. The kids screamed and laughed right along with me.
Gold and Platinum records hang in frames on many walls of our home. It’s as if the lyrics from those records are frozen in specific time periods marked, and yet people who love my hubby and some good ol’ SCC music are still “divin’ in”, “wakin’ the neighbors”, and “dancin’ with their Cinderella’s” on a daily basis.
In this whirlwind of time, we’ve experienced great joy and unspeakable loss. I’ll say it until I draw my last breath: No one was created to bury a child. The separation and void of not hearing Maria’s voice and watching her giggle is not natural. And neither is watching your other loved ones have to learn to navigate a new map towards eternity. It’s a map that takes pain and anger into account and re-routes the journey for us all. It’s far more treacherous and unknown than before, but we journey on trusting that it will ultimately lead us to an eternity where we will SEE Maria again. Our grief has been messy, and yet it’s that mess that has bound us together and has found us all on the same side, fighting for each other in all our victories and losses.
35 years! 35 years of laughter, sorrow, working, playing, living…and dying. Steven wrote what many consider to be his most well-known song, “I Will Be Here”, for me in 1988. We had been married for almost 5 years when he presented me with the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I remember so clearly when I first heard the lyric in the song that says, “when the mirror tells us we’re older, I will hold you…and I will be here”. I thought to myself: that day is so far away! (Now that I think about it, it should’ve also said, “when the scale tells us we’re heavier and I can’t hold you…I will be here”! That would be more accurate, at least today hahaha!) Seriously, I do remember thinking: that’s all so far away. I’m here to tell you, it’s not!
There is so much I could write about as to what I wish I hadn’t said or done during the last 35 years with my hubby. But the one thing we have done is this…live. My fearless leader who has led us into the glorious unknown has done so teaching us to do it open handed…being willing to follow wherever God has led us. He has led us to be kind and to be benevolent. All the while we have been living life, my man has been steering all of us to “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”
With that said, and after a stroll down so many thoughts and memories, I want to say… “Happiest of Anniversaries,” to my husband of 35 years. If I could’ve bottled these last years up, I’m not sure I’d leave anything out because the sum total of those years makes us who we are today. All of us are better because of you loving your family and me for 35 years…so far.
Today, we sat across from each other working in our breakfast chairs, drinking coffee, planning out the next 35 years. Ok, maybe not entirely – maybe just the next cheer clinic and college visit for Stevey Joy, but you gotta start somewhere. 2054 is right around the corner after all. So let’s keep living, and I’m thinkin’ it’s about time for another song!