My first year of college was rough for us. I ventured to Michigan and a friend of mine passed away. Jon and I had only been dating for a year and he had no clue what to do with this emotional hot mess he called his girl friend. I was already struggling with being far from everything and everyone I loved, and the loss of my friend was enough to push me over the edge. We weren't really close anymore, but she was someone I looked up to, and now she was gone, and I felt alone. It sucked. In that same year my young cousin passed away and my dad's best friend committed suicide. I was reeling to say the least, but Jon stepped up. He stepped up as a leader in my life and he held onto hope when I thought it was lost. It was that year that I realized the fragility of life and the richness that is there, if you chose it. It was also that Christmas that he gave me a gift that let me know we could make it for the long haul.
Without my knowledge he contacted everyone I had known from Jr. High on. Family, friends, teachers, everyone. And he explained that I was having a rough year and could use some truth spoken into my life. People wrote letters and cards of what I meant to them, and he put them all together in a book for me, followed by a letter from him. Blew my world away. Even in my depressed, miserable state, I still mattered, my life mattered.
In the years to come, we grew up together. I was able to support him through the unexpected loss of his cousin, and he now understood the place I was coming from in the beginning of our relationship. We were able to spend a year of college both in the city, and it was awesome being able to trek up and down the red line to see each other. That was probably when we were at our coolest. It has been all downhill since then. We both thought the other was slightly crazy when they decided to go back to grad school so soon, and yet we did it together.
I wouldn't call our dating life easy, but it was good, deep, and rich. We continued to choose God and each other through the ups and the downs. It set the foundation and tone for our marriage. When we got engaged I would have strangers asking me how old I was. My response would always be, "I will be 23 when I get married." They didn't have to know I would only be 23 for a whopping month. I was always so afraid of people judging us being so young...because I like to live a decade in advance. But even when I got engaged at the age of 22 (by one day), I knew. I knew he was the one for me. I knew we could continue to chose each other through the ups and downs. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but it was going to be awesome.
I didn't know how awesome it was going to be. I didn't know that he would step up as the leader in our marriage, and then some. I didn't know we would learn to fight, and that it would be good for us. I didn't know how long and how much money it would take to pay off student loans. I didn't imagine we could do something like GoatFest. I didn't realize what a great father he would be some day. I didn't know he would go from Johnny to Jon and with a name change would come a new level of confidence that is so attractive I could jump him when he walks through the door. T.M.I? Sorry. I still miss Johnny, but I'm so glad I ended up with Jon.
I'm so glad I didn't know, that life continues to surprise me, and that God's blessings can far exceed my wildest expectations. We have some things on our plate that will make this year a bit wild and crazy, with some ups and downs, but there is no one else I would rather ride this roller coaster with. And to tell you the truth, I like the butterflies in my stomach when we go down the steep hills. I know that we will come back up at some point, but the butterflies remind me that I am alive, and the we are living life to it's fullest, and we are doing it together. Diving in and going deep. We are all in. In our marriage, in our lives, in our faith, with our friends and family. I can't wait for the next 8 years with this guy. With my guy.
For your listening pleasure, I included our song eight years ago. And our song for our first dance. Like I said. Dorks.