Dear Anna, let me tell you what led me to write this simple love letter. It started on a guilt trip and it possibly ends on memory lane.
Last evening, your daughter, Jerica, reminded me about today. She asked me, "What you going to do tomorrow?" I didn't know what she was talking about - not a clue. I looked at her, puzzled. Her face lit up and said, "You mean you don't know what date is tomorrow?" I thought for a while and it hit me like our wedding bouquet you threw 17 years ago had just boomeranged back and landed right between my eyes. It will be our 17th wedding anniversary! OMG, I’ve forgotten all about it.
On the eve of our 17th, and I was completely oblivious. 17 years of marriage, sleeping together, sharing kisses, touches and hugs, weathering through arguments, cold wars and silent tears, bringing up three soul-sapping kids and nearly having a few nervous breakdowns, and I was about the let today pass by like a silent mist in the night.
Now, I have to say that it's not the day that is special. Our anniversary could have been on any of the weekends or holidays, and it would still change little of that day. You and I know that anniversary or not, life goes on. The kids are not going to magically give us a break - especially the youngest.
No doubt our kids will acknowledge that day with Joy skipping around expecting something celebrative to happen (preferably using it as a pretense to buy another toy). And Jerica pestering us to go for a good meal and Jezer hanging around you to share with you his latest running feat.
But what we are scarce to tell them straight to their angelic faces is that when we first started this marital journey together, there were just the two of us - minus the kids. And it stayed that way for the first two anniversaries. Those times were quieter, more private or less noisy.
Now, the bandwagon of love just got a whole lot more crowded and the road ahead is a bumpy one - challenging no doubt.
Alas dear, we can't really complain here. In the same way those three spirited kids demanded much of our time, attention and energy, especially yours, they have also given us what money cannot buy - that is, meaning, hope, legacy and joy.
Well, I guess the wedding package comes with this small fine print, which is easy to overlook amidst the champagne toasts, well-wishing and honeymoon excitement. And it reads: "Warning, this will change you." Indeed it has. More changes akan datang.
After 17 years, we have the scars of marriage to show that the years have been both kind and unkind, tough and toughening, happy and sobering. And they say, "Where's the gain without the pain, right?" Well, in our marriage, it is more like this, "Where's the love without the sacrifice?"
And Anna, you have sacrificed a lot for me and the kids. Your devotion is what makes the lasting difference and it transforms every anniversary into a cause to celebrate - with or without the kids (just kidding).
So dear, let me end by saying this: our marriage is not perfect (far from it). That would however be a frightening prospect. In any event, it is not perfection that completes us. If anything, perfection retires love. It makes love redundant. What gap is love trying to bridge in a perfect marital state anyway?
On the contrary, what joins us together is how we have grown to understand each other intimately, instinctively and most intentionally. In other words, you know my buttons and I know yours. They can be kept hidden away from the public and friends – even loved ones – yet you know where to find them, what to do with them, and when to press them. Your labor of love is thus about the love of laboring with my imperfections, my flaws – knowing and bearing with them.
Mind you, we started off 17 years ago clumsily navigating an emotional marital minefield, sometimes setting each other's sore or trigger points off here and there. But the years have added wisdom, patience, hope and understanding. The years have also added age, physical aches, tears and some unexpected twists and turns too.
But I guess the common thread that runs through it all is that thing they call stubborn love. And if I have one definition for it, it has to be a love that breaks our rebellious hearts up, mixes the broken pieces in a heap over the years, and then diligently melds them together as one resilient whole.
In the end, we can expect brokenness to end up with completeness – you me and me you. The union of two into one is therefore not a perfect fit. But it is about perfecting the fit. We will get there … we will.
So, happy anniversary dear. You mentioned yesterday did I forget today – I guess that little imp told you with some panache. Well, I sort of let it slip for a while. But a union like ours, the years together, for good and bad times, and the three evidential product of our loins, is impossible to stay in that clueless state for long. Love you, my big bird, Mike. Cheerz.