(Note: I published this post exactly two years ago. Today David and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. I have spent half my life with this man. Half my life! Has it been easy? No. But I have realized that easy is way overrated. As I recently wrote in The Huffington Post, "Every single day is a choice to stay married. On any given day, either one of us could walk out the door and choose not to come back." And over the past 24 years, there have been times when each of us have stared long and hard at that door. And when the door needed to busted down, we did it together. And from there, we created a stronger love, a deeper love, a more connected love. And today is the day that we celebrate that ever-expanding love. The love from which we created our incredible family. The love that has survived pain and blame and hurt and countless misunderstandings. The love that we cherish and the love that we sometimes have to fight for. I wouldn't change any of it . And I could not be more grateful to be celebrating 24 years of marriage with my amazing husband. I love you, David.)
I stared intently at my husband last night as he read a story to our 10-year-old daughter. Something hit me hard. I was unexpectedly filled with intense emotions—joy, love and gratitude flowed freely through my mind and my heart. I realized at that moment, as I looked deeply into his ocean blue eyes that were fixed on a page of the book, why I married him 22 years ago.
My ears filled with his voice, which was infused with a funny-sounding tone, as he tried to bring one of the book characters to life for Jo, who was listening intently, and grinning from ear to ear.
“I know why I married you,” my voice interrupted his.
David stopped reading and looked at me keenly. With a tilt of his head, and a raise of his eyebrows, he responded, “Really? Wow, that’s big.”
His eyes moved back to the book, his voice quickly reverting back to the character, pulling Jo happily back into the story. The chapter ended and David paused. Jo glanced over at her dad sitting on the end of her bed and then turned to face me, lying next to her. Her David-like blue eyes grew larger, and a playful smile rested on her angelic face.
“Mom, why did you marry dad,” she asked with a maturity and curiosity that surprised me.
I paused and looked back at her, and then at my husband. I felt a tiny lump build in my throat as my mind scanned back over the past 22 years.
“I married dad because l loved him so deeply that it hurt me to be away from him. I married him because I knew that he would be the very best father to my children. I married him because he was my best friend. I married him because I knew I could make him happy. And I married him because I knew he would always be there for me. Always.”
Silence filled Jo’s bubblegum pink bedroom.
“Wow, you just said a lot of really nice things,” David said to break up the stillness and infuse a little humor mixed with sarcasm (his go-to combination) to lighten up the serious mood I had created.
But I didn’t let him off that easily. “And I mean it. All of it. And I am so glad I married you 22 years ago. Happy anniversary.”
Jo sat in stunned silence. Remnants of her grin remained on her face. But her eyes told me that she had gone somewhere deeper—to a place of understanding and contemplation. And at that moment, Jo and I locked eyes, and with all of my heart, I hoped and prayed that someday she would know a love like this.