As a kid, I dreamed a lot about who I would one day marry. Longing for that unique person kept me up evenings, composing long lost poems of ardor and devotion. I also ate a ton of ice cream pints. Foreshadowing, indeed.
I had a lot of preconceived ideas of what my wife would look like, what would be her name, her laugh, what she liked, things she wanted to do, places to go. When I actually met the woman I would marry, I found many of my presumptions shattered. Her name was old fashioned, maybe even plain, her likes were often not congruent with mine, her goals much more firmly planned; plus side, she was more gorgeous, kind, generous and funny than I ever could have imagined. Thank you, God. You ARE good.
As her birthday would approach, I wanted to celebrate her, elevate her so that she could see the vast beauty she created in my life and others who knew her. I wanted her to be the center of the universe for a day; exactly how I like to be treated on MY birthday (in case you were wondering/planning). This was counter to her nature, however, and she always demurred.
On one impossible morning, our future changed forever, collectively. Bad guys flew planes into the commercial epicenter of New York City, the Pentagon and thwarted brave but bittersweetly into a field in Pennsylvania; thousands murdered in a few hours.
It was also my dear wife’s birthday, that morning. Years went by before we celebrated anything again that day, it seemed. Suddenly, it was as if she were one of those rare kids born on Leap Year Day and we felt compelled to move it arbitrarily one day to the left or right on the calendar. Like all things that are meant to be great, some get trimmed away for good reasons others, not. Her day, her very special day meant just for her, got squeezed into the margins of life because of our nation-wide sadness.
In the early wake of the disaster, it put things into perspective when we celebrated. Over time, it made more and more sense to celebrate her birthday, to cherish this great gift of God, to remember the fallen, to let show the love in your heart while you can.
These days, I find myself reinvented and reinvigorated by her. I workout regularly, I look for the paths and trails of our youth when I made excuses to leave them behind. Far from settling into my ‘favorite chair,’ I find myself pursuing her at all costs. Her love is that strong.
‘Happy Birthday’ sometimes seems like the most idiotic way to express the acknowledged respect, reverence and treasured concern of a life lived among holy matrimony. It seems a clumsy salutation akin to Tarzan’s fumbled introduction to Jane. I find it so hard to use words that aptly shine the intention of gratitude, understanding, adoration and sheer honor it is to know — let alone be made one flesh as only God can do — and be known by this once child, now woman, whose heart was purposed for mine.
Thank you, Most High God, for having vision beyond what I could conceive in my mate and for such generosity in sowing her into my life. A fruitfulness that would not otherwise have been totaled from the parts summed, but for your hand.
THANK YOU, my sweet wife, for not fleeing at the first sight of my toenails (worthy of their own post someday, I’m sure – eesh). May this day bring you more than sorrow for others, something beyond thankfulness for notching another year; a glimpse of the eternal. A hope for everyone lost at the center of their own universe.
Go with love, bringing truth.
And gluten-free cake to all.