I remember the first time I saw you. You were sitting on the stairs of the church building at college, and you smiled at me. That smile… I don’t even know if you really even noticed me. But I noticed you.
I remember the church dance that you didn’t ask me to. I daydreamed about you asking me… for AGES. And I daydreamed about dancing with you, even though you didn’t ask me. I daydreamed that we danced, and then you kissed me. We didn’t go to that dance together, and you didn’t dance with me. I actually got incredibly sick, and you sat next to me, against the wall, and I was so aware of all the places that your body touched mine.
I remember a snowball fight with you, and you caught up to me and grabbed me, and the snow should have been cold, but I was pretty sure I could never be cold if you were touching me.
I remember calling you at midnight on your birthday on the first day of 2001, and you weren’t home, because of course you weren’t… and I woke up your parents. And I was mortified to have bothered them, and mad at myself for sitting at home, waiting to call you on New Year’s Day.
I remember when you asked me out, FINALLY, the day that I had decided that I was going to get over you. And then you kissed me, in your car, with the snow falling. And the next day I wasn’t sure if I could ever look at you again, because what if you had kissed me and it hadn’t meant anything to you, when it had been everything to me? But then I saw you, and you smiled at me. THAT smile. My smile. And I knew that I would marry you if you would only ask.
I remember when you were thinking of proposing, but you were going to wait to meet my family first. But then you got the ring, and it burned a hole right through your pocket, so you took me to the Steak & Shake and got down on one knee and asked me if I would marry you. We ran inside, absolutely giddy, and because nobody proposes at the Steak & Shake they showered us in free desserts and Steak & Shake swag (such as it is). And we were GIDDY.
I remember when I moved into the studio apartment in a relatively seedy neighborhood, so that when I drove home from your house in the evening, you’d call me to make sure that I made it in okay. And one time when I fell asleep before we talked and didn’t hear the phone, you drove in the middle of the night to check on me.
I remember kneeling across from you at the altar while your grandfather asked us to repeat our vows, and then you kissed me. And while we kneeled, gazing at each other—for what seemed like an awkwardly long time—you smiled. I’m sure I did too, but you smiled and I just wanted that smile for the rest of forever.
We were barely adults when we got married, and we have grown up together. And watching you grow, into a more and more incredible, kind, and loving husband, into an amazing father, and into a man of God has been inspiring. You make me better, in all ways, and you forgive me for all the ways I fail. You smooth out all my rough spots, and you love me better than I realized one could.
I want to wake up next to you forever, I want to see you in the passenger seat on all my road trips. I want to continue to roll my eyes at all of your bawdy flirtations forever, so I’m glad you tell me you’ll never stop. I want to witness your ridiculous machismo when we’re at the grocery store and you won’t let me help carry the groceries, and I want to keep laughing together at all of the jokes we’ve been storing up for years. I want to be your partner, and support you in all the ways that you need, the same way you do for me.
It’s been 14 years since our wedding day, and you still smile that smile at me, and I still melt every time I see it. I can’t describe it—but your smile is full of love, and a little bit of shyness, and a little bit of cockiness, and I love it. And I want to see that smile as it ages, as the lines become deeper and your face becomes ever more familiar.
I want 14 more years with you, but more than that, I want a whole lifetime. I want to dance with you on our 50th anniversary, and I want you to kiss me the way you didn’t before we were dating. You are the love of my life, and I want you to always know it.
I love you, sweet husband. Happy anniversary.