My first instinct is to think of elementary school Valentine’s day parties. (No clue why) Which always reminds me of construction paper flowers, red and pink paper hearts and paper doilys. I remember carrying home those Valentine treasures- struggling to hold my umbrella to protect them from the rain and blowing my breath carefully and furiously to keep snowflakes from melting on the covers.
I remember carefully written magic marker messages, dripping and streaking. I remember rain drops making tie-dye patterns in my hard work. I remember tears. I remember them placed lovingly on the fridge- raindrops and all. I remember elementary and parental Love.
I remember Jr High love. The drama the pain. The ridiculous thoughts and the stupid plans. I remember notes passed. I remember check boxes: “Do you like me? Check here for “Yes”- check here for “No”….” I remember insecurity… And I remember enjoying it all.
I remember love at 16 years old. It was hearts and flowers and palpitations and REALLY bad poetry. (Not just mine) It was stolen kisses and planning dates. It was going WAY out of my way between classes so I MIGHT get to see him….It was car dates and prom gowns. It was wonderful.
I remember love at 20 years old- it was getting ready for a wedding. It was flowers and cake and planning and dreaming. It was royal blue frosting up a nose on a honey moon drive. It was a walk on the beach then listening to the ocean on our honeymoon bed. It was wonderful.
I remember love at 21 years old- It was pregnancy and bedrest and struggles and laundry in piles…It was tears and fear and sharing them all. It was day dreaming together of what kind of parents we’d be. It was wonderful.
I remember love at 31. It was wedding vows renewed. Another gown, another cake….a (badly) sung song… it was our two son’s standing beside us- our friends gathered- it was wonderful.
I remember love at 33- it was a surprise pregnancy, that changed our family and grew our love for each other. It was shuttling middleschoolers and throwing up before breakfast- a washcloth handed to me to wipe my face. It was hands held during appointments with genetic counselors, it was worshipping together and knowing God was with us. It was wonderful.
Oh sure. I remember wanting to kill each other. I remember praying God would change each of us. I remember consciously thinking… “God- I love him.. but I just don’t like him, please help me!” I remember being convinced he was thinking the same. I remember yesterday, when I yelled about laundry and mud left on the floor. I remember the hurts I’ve caused, and the hurts I’ve felt.
To be honest- the love we have now- barely resembles what we had then. It is as alike as a paper Valentine and a beating heart. A paper valentine is fragile and pretty- but doesn’t weather storms. It wilts- the words written on it seem to waver when hit buy rain drops. A paper Valentine is about impression and expression- it’s pretty and begins love…. but doesn’t endure.
Now- I know love at 39. After 19 years – our love is less Valentines day and more living beating heart. It is sometimes bloody messy. But it is beating – fast and furious. When the pressure is on, and the race is hard- this love beats harder. This love becomes stronger in the training and struggle. This love endures. It doesn’t wilt, drip or run.
Sure- today- as we celebrate 19 years of marriage, there will be pretty cards with ink that runs. There will be starry (somewhat wrinkled) eyes and nostalgic talk. But more than that- in the background…. there will the constant beating of a real, live heart.
Our love- no longer paper and doilys- but growing and living.
Happy Anniversary Honey- I love you- even more than I did.
And yes- I’d marry you again. And again. And again.
Even if you’re a dufus and I’m a dork.