12 YEARS. Today, my husband and I will be together for 12 years. To some that is a lot, to others not so many, but to me it’s been quite a ride, a very special 12 years.
There was a lady I used to listen to on the radio. She’d often recommend people wait until at least their late 20s to get married because it was only then that a person would become more comfortable in her skin and understand better what she wanted in a marriage, in a partner. She would remind us that we change so much during our 20s. She was very right.
When Craig and I first met I was 19 years old. When I speak that number I think, “Wow!”, it sounds crazy. What on Earth does a 19 year old girl know about finding the right man, let alone about herself? Not much. But that’s what makes us so special. After our first night spending 8 hours talking to each other without skipping a beat, without feeling awkward, and feeling immediately comfortable, came a budding spark that sang, “this one has no end.”
Over the last 12 years that spark grew into a giant shining light; sometimes that light faded, but it always grew back stronger and stronger. And if I can muster up the energy now, I’d love to tell you more about that spark and my man.
I had always been a Romantic. I fantasized about the man who would make me swoon but could also make me cry (only to bring me back into his arms again, of course!) As a Romantic, I dreamed of unbridled joy but also heart-wrenching tragedy. I dreamed of finding my soul mate. But I don’t think I was ever a Hopeless Romantic.
At some point I knew that finding a soul mate was just a notion great for writing and making movies. And what was a soul mate anyway? Was there someone who was perfect? The realist in me knew no one was perfect (not even me!) And while I never intended to settle, I would not wait to find someone who was perfect.
And I met Craig. He was tall, dark, handsome, an athlete, strong, confident, sociable and very smart. More than that, he made me laugh. It’s taken me years to understand his humor, but he always knew how to make me laugh. In a way, it was love at first sight. I never saw the end to our relationship, even when he moved 3,000 miles away from me for a year.
After being apart for a year, I would say we had known better times together, but somehow we stuck it through. He suffered my sour moods with such grace and patience. He suffered my complaints and unhappiness with such acceptance and encouragement. Looking back, I’m not sure I would have stayed with me, but he did.
Then we got married and new adventures would begin. We bought a house, got a cat, then two dogs and then decided to start a family. We had our beautiful girl, Isabel, had a miscarriage, had a beautiful boy, Thomas, and then another beautiful girl, Elise, who passed away. All those years, brought us ups and downs, pleasure and pain, laughs and tears, closer and further apart.
But something changed this past year. On our wedding anniversary, June 26th, 2011, we were in the car driving to Downtown L.A. on our way to watch Les Miserables. I was reminiscing and said to him, “That first year we had together was amazing. We had no worries, had no responsibilities and were completely carefree; all we had to worry about were our problem sets, deadlines and sports.” He agreed and we continued to talk about how easy it was to be together then. Now we had children to take care of and raise well, we had a mortgage and bills to pay, obligations to fulfill.
But, dang, we had no idea what was coming next. With the birth and death of our angel, much had changed. We went places our untrained minds never imagined they would go. There was a new fragility that entered our house, that seeped into my psyche, but also a new strength that bonded us together, tighter than ever. Craig has been my post, standing tall with his feet buried deep into the ground, never quavering, never letting me down.
Even while in the hospital, through tears he could make me laugh. He gave me sanity in a surreal and twisted world and because I could laugh I knew that we would be okay.
With my new vision, I began to see us differently. I noticed the little things that made us great. It is true, we don’t fight. Once I used to think that was a problem but now I see it as a virtue. We discuss freely and understand each other well enough to not take offense when we exchange ideas. He lets me preach to the choir and now keeps me informed. What I really love, though, is that we can live it up together and we can slum it together. We do both gracefully, without self-righteousness or guilt and without shame. We are just thankful for both prime ribs and Taco Bell, for London and for Las Vegas.
I’m not sure why it took this long, but all these little realizations hit me over the past 10 months. I see now how well we fit together: he is the extension of my mind and body. It was just recently that I discovered how blessed I really am because despite it all I have found my Soul Mate. He’s been with me all these years, growing with me, changing with me, staying with me.
I believe the lady on the radio was right when she said we change a lot during our 20s. While I know part of me is the same, many of you would not recognize who I was back then. But here is my man, a man who works hard for his family and gives selflessly, who held my hand all the way, through all the changes. I loved him back then for what he was and I love him even more now for the man he has become.
Craig, if you were here (he’s out East on a new adventure!), I’d raise a glass to us, to celebrate our life together. I love you. Happy Anniversary!