I’ve been married to him for seven years now.
It’s my year to plan our anniversary so I got a babysitter and we’re going canoeing for the afternoon on the French Broad River. He loves being in a canoe. And I love being with him.
Seven years together is pure gift, sheer grace handed to me, I’m undeserving, and I see it as such and utter thanks to God for it.
I’m sipping hot coffee and over the white plastic lid I see the blur of colors in the Faithfulness quilt I stitched last year. Four hills and a sunset, yellow star on the biggest mountain, scraps of fabric pieced together in lines turned diagonal and it doesn’t exactly hang straight. Seven years up and down the Blue Ridge together and in three days we’re leaving it for a while.
He proposed to me there- that’s why I put a big random star on the tallest hill, there’s a vintage neon star on Mill Mountain in Virginia that rises high above the city of Roanoke. He drove me up into his beloved mountains near to it over my spring break. Southern-style humidity trying to push out the last cold of winter but in Appalachia some chilly damp places hide deep in little forgotten pockets under generations-old rhodedendren, and if you happen into such a spot when it’s hot everywhere else, the air heavy wet with mist wraps your skin like summer rain. Its chilly and you feel like your hair should be dripping wet with sweat warm water suspended, hovering all around you but it never does. It feels like a fairy land, and that’s how it felt when he parked in a little damp lot at Roanoke Mountain, all green and just teeming with life that early spring afternoon.
I gasped- the real kind (and who does that except in movies?!) because he thought me of unspeakably more worth than that pure glassy diamond he shyly had slipped out of his pocket just a few seconds before. He loved me as much as, maybe more than, he loved himself- and my small brain couldn’t believe that such an exquisite thing was for little silly me. That such an exquisite person was half whispering with a shake in his voice and strong eyes quietly plead with mine to accept it, to accept him.
His towering act of humility that day left my finger suddenly heavy and my heart stretched fuller than I thought mortally possible. It was both heavy with the barely recent memory of those eyes, those burning quiet eyes, and freed with the realization, washed over my brain like a tsunami quenches a barren island, that I was loved. When it came time for me to leave, I kept my glittering finger up high on the steering wheel where the sun could catch it all seven hours home. I couldn’t stop glancing at it and smiling like a fool because it was a such a testimony of what he had said, and better, what his eyes couldn’t audibly speak but had impressed deep into me up in those Appalachian woods of his. (And is there any greater blessing than to unshakeably know that one is loved?)
He had brought me home to propose, and I said yes, that I would come live with him there and love it because he did.
And seven years ago this morning I packed all my earthly stuff and some groceries into his red Xterra with a lift, drove to an old stone church in a small Ohio town and said yes all over again.
We’ve been up and down the Blue Ridge ever since.
He called me just a minute ago to tell me that he took our girls on a little detour in the bike trailer. They’re at the park and they’ll be home soon. I’m here while the baby naps and I’m writing, it’s remembering. I’m shaking my head a little, too. Who would have thought? It was all a little hasty, three months dating then only three months engaged before we made our covenant before God. And now kids, a house, moving to a place a couple thousand miles away where we don’t know a soul. He’s adventurous like that though. So we’re going canoeing for the afternoon, a time for a little remembering before life gets busy again.
Happy Seven Years, Justin. You’re a good man for being married to and I’m blessed to be your wife.