Today we weren’t supposed to be here. Home. Not today anyway.

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Fifteen Years ago, we said I Do and somehow, it’s flown by. But in the same breath, I’ll state that it’s been chuck FULL of adventure after adventure. The Good, Bad, Better, and Worse. When I was younger, I used to love to read Love Stories in magazines, or the secrets from life-long couples’ relationships entitled: Secrets to a Happy Marriage after Sixty Years. Or something to that affect… Each one of them seemed to have the same tone and somehow, they all shared the same back-story. No matter the magazine, book, newspaper, interview, or movie I’d seen of stories like this, all of them shared a common denominator: Pain. Every love story spoke to memory after memory of the lowest of lows the walked through during their marriage and how they got through it. While there were also, always, so many highs to their life-long love, it was how they made it through the toughest of times, the darkest of valleys, and how they endured their walks through sorrow and disappointment that held them together.

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In only fifteen short years, this is our story too. And already. Today, we were supposed to be celebrating in another place. On a trip I’d planned for us for just the occasion. But we had to cancel. Life. It happens. Yet, I wouldn’t change this life with you for anything. Because in fifteen years, but in what really feels like fifteen weeks maybe, we have had immense JOY too! Here and elsewhere. Both pain and joy have followed us, but we’ve learned from the pain and danced in the joy.

I spend so much time each night writing to our son, Eli, and reflecting on our day together. But I so often do the same with you. It’s hard to even verbalize all the things I love, adore, and admire about you, but…  Maybe fifteen things will suffice…

*Your Wit. It was one of the first things that drew me to you, but I was so surprised you were as funny and quick as you were. Really though, you could accelerate my laughter to physical happy-tears as fast as my Father could and I remember thinking that was impossible! I have nicknamed you the King of Analogies too because you have one for EVERYthing. I am working on mine, duh! But YOU? You.Are.FUNNY. And Fast.

*Your Provision .You are a caretaker. A provider. And endless resource of resolution and puzzle solver no matter WHAT the situation. I have found myself in more desperate situations than I’d like to admit in these last fifteen years and you have always been a solid, steady rock on which I can find support. You have answers, solutions, and a way “out” if we just follow your lead and I doubt—truly, I doubt—that I will ever meet another person as reliable and responsible as you for as long as I live. I want to be like you. Yes. Like you, J.

*Your Rugged Good Looks. Probably enough said, but your brother likes to tease me about how much I loved you as a child. How much I thought you were the bee’s knees. We were ten and eleven when we met, but I knew I loved you. I wanted you to be everything you turned out to be, which, ultimately shocked me on our first date. Someone as dashing as you was bound to be, well, conceded? But you? You were…perfect.

*Your Confidence. It was one of the first things that attracted me to you. Well, except the above. ♥ But a man who is confident and who doesn’t need to constantly be reminded of how great he is to keep on keepin’ on? Yea. I LOVE that about you.

*Your Smarts. Gah, that brain of yours. It’s unfair really. How someone could get the brain of Albert Einstein, but look like…you. It’s just not fair. But I don’t really want to complain because I have access to your brain 24/7. It comes in SO handy. Ha!

*Your Smile. I love the way your smile. I love your straight, white teeth. Your lips that are hidden beneath a scruff that I haven’t seen for years now, but still know are there. And the way you laugh—almost like a kid—when something catches you off guard. But I love the secret smile you flash at me that only you and I know the meaning of, even when others think they do. Your “Rick” smile. The one that melts me.

*Your Parenting. I doubt I have time to explain this one. But I got lucky. I never knew how you’d actually parent. Or how I would in the overnight-world of becoming one. But man I hit the jackpot with you! Your gentle when it’s needed, but firm when necessary. You are patient, kind, and overly sarcastic when humor is a necessity to our situation. You follow through and your word is your bond. You teach first, but then you DO. You lead by example and by going first. You’re always going first…

*Your Understanding. You can read me like a book and you know what I’ll say before I even say it. But you still let me speak and you just “get me.” You are tolerant and you have never withheld forgiveness, not matter what was said or done. There is nothing I’ve ever kept from you because I know, no matter what, you’ll always understand.

*Your Loyalty. It’s unshakable and palpable. I have never doubted it. But you prove it not only to me, but to everyone you have a relationship with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you let someone down… How do you do it?

*Your Faith. It’s not something you speak aloud often. But it comes in waves during our serious talks and hours upon hours of chit-chat we have every night. You and I talk like we’re best friends trying to stay awake before the morning sun so we have enough time to “hang out.” And I’ve always loved that. It’s in these times that I see your faith and hear you give voice to it. If it’s ever been shaken or faltered, you’ve never let on and you’ve always upheld my own. You are the rock of our family and our reminder that all things work for the good of those who love Him. HE>I, you say.

*Your Strength. Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental. I’m unsure as to which is technically the strongest. Truth be told you’d likely show me your chiseled arms (again, SO unfair!). But I’d say your Mental strength is the most impressive. Storm after storm and trial after trial that we’re handed and you are steady. Calm. And Unwavering. How you stand firm and steadfast among the myriad of scary diagnoses we’ve had and among all our losses just baffles me. You’re like a deeply rooted Oak. Who only grows stronger as the wind blows it to sway…

*Your Predictability. Sometimes, it’s this trait that drives me the most crazy about you. But then many times, it’s what I love most. You are unfaltering and true. And I have learned how you are, what you love, what you don’t, and what you need the most. I can finish your sentences, yes. But I have also learned to know what you think, even before the words form to your lips. Adaptation and change are definitely one of your strongest suits, but I’d have to say, I love how truly predictable you really are.

*Your Honesty. It’s a classy, upstanding trait of a good man and you carry it with ease in our relationship. Whether it’s about my outfit, the food we’re eating, or something regarding your own moral compass, you shine here. Thus the reason, I’ve never, ever, doubted you.

*Your Passion. Probably one of my all-time favorite things about you is this. Your zest for life. You inability to experience boredom or know what the word even means. Your passion for your job, the project at hand, to learn something new, the business you’re dying to start, for Eli, our livelihood, and…me. You are easy to read and you don’t hide behind your feelings. You speak what you’re thinking and you say what’s on your mind. Your boldness exudes confidence and your passion for all things LIFE is contagious.

*Your Steadfast Love. I often dreamed about it. At the tender age of ten. Wished for it and wanted a love like yours when I was older. I’m so lucky to have found it in you. My knight. The man who will dance with me in the kitchen to no music at all. You are the strong arms to hold me up. The soft neck for me to nest in when I’m broken. The scent of a cologne that you know turns me to mush and comforts me, and the the endless support of my dreams. A visualizer of how to make anything happen, and the brick-layer himself of the very path we will take together. You are my sky. My ocean. My forest. My joy and light. My wild.

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My love, there are so many things I want to say to you. And three little words seem to pale in comparison to my feelings. Your love for me and mine for you is hard to describe in words, but with you, I am always…home.

Happy Fifteenth Anniversary, Jason.

To the moon, Me.