A letter to my (late) husband:
Today it has been 30 yrs since we walked down the aisle again, this time as soon to be husband and wife. Our trip to the altar was a convoluted and interesting journey.
The first time we met, we didn’t like each other very much. Forced to walk down the aisle arm in arm for our best friends wedding, it was awkward at best. At 18 almost 19, you were the popular party animal. I had just turned 17 and was the nerdy shy girl who was only there because the mother of the bride made her daughter make me the maid of honor.
I missed the rehearsal dinner because my best friend forgot to pick me up, I arrived well into the after party. I had to work that day and my parents had already left to spend the night closer to the event. After no one arrived at work to pick me up, I walked home to find that I was locked out of the house. While waiting for a ride that never came a summer storm came up so when someone finally remember and came to pick me up I was wet and stringy haired.
Of course no one forgot the best man, you were life of the party. Cracking jokes and being boisterous and drunk as a skunk you were clearly in your element as the center of attention. I’m sure you kept the wedding party in stitches during the rehearsal. With your long hair and good looks I know a couple of the bridesmaids were smitten with you. One in particular kept telling me how lucky I was and how she should be the one walking with you. Just a petty little reminder that no one wanted me there.
They say first impressions make lasting impressions and boy were ours catastrophically bad. With my feelings already bruised, I get out of the car and the first words out of your mouth were: “Who’s the drowned rat?” I decided I was done with everything and went inside to change into dry clothes and to fade into the background as I was not wanted there. I’d learned in school that the best way to avoid ridicule was to retreat into a quiet area and to stay out of the way.
The next day, you seemed to much more considerate, but I had you pegged as the jock bully type. The ones that picked on me, them and their cheerleader girlfriends and made my life miserable cliques in school. My family moved across the country from Maryland to Arkansas a few months later.
Just a short time later, I would graduate from high school and as a gift your best friend Todd paid for me to come back up to Maryland to visit them. Weird considering the way the wedding went, but I was glad that Franny wanted me to come visit and that we seemed to be renewing our friendship.
I’ll never forget when you came in unexpectedly while they were out shopping and I was babysitting their daughter. You looked amazing, the long hair was gone and you were sober. I pretended to be cool and collected but I just couldn’t help but sneak peeks at you while pretending to read my book. I had no idea who you were, just a friend of Todd’s. When they came home, I went upstairs with Fran to see what all she had bought and pump her for information about you. When she told me I was horrified… “Him?! Really? UGH!” Downstairs, you were having a similar conversation with Todd. Your reaction: “Her? Really? Wow…”
What a difference a year and a half makes huh? I had never expected to see you again much less fall in love with you. I think it was our second date when you asked me to marry you and I said no and would continue to do so for the next 6 months.
I guess we were never considered “conventional” and things would always be interesting. We had a fun trip full of adventure, laughter, and tears. Sure there were some mistakes and missteps, but because of you I am more confident, stronger and a better person in many ways. I would say I wouldn’t change a thing, but…. you know that’d be a lie. Yeah, there’s a few I would change like telling you to stay home with me instead of going off to China.
Even so, I choose not to be sad today, although some tears might fall. Today is a happy day and should be celebrated instead of being spent mourning. I love you and miss you.