Twelve years ago today, I married my best friend. We’d already been together for seven-and-a-half years, and living together (totally in sin) for almost four, so perhaps it might seem that the actual wedding wouldn’t have meant all that much… but it did.
For starters, I loved the wedding itself. We wanted to make it really “us,” so that we could share what meant the most to us with our guests – while also having a rockin’ kickass good time. And, from the a cappella singing to the Minnesota-themed centerpieces, from the autumn colors to the seating cards with the names written on treble clef staves, it was exactly what we’d hoped it would be. That everyone had braved the airlines and set aside their apprehensions to join us – only thirty miles outside of New York City – less than four weeks after September 11th, made it all the more humbling and incredible.
But the best part was actually marrying this guy I’d fallen in love with so many years ago. We were making it official, this commitment thing. Nick was mine and I was his and now we were each other’s, this new unit. We were getting married. It was just what I’d hoped it would be, plus cake. WIN-WIN.
I’ve already talked about how being married has both fulfilled and defied my expectations – in surprising but good ways. For me, though, what’s gotten us this far – and what I hope will take us much farther – is that I did, truly, marry my best friend, and that friendship is at the center of everything we do.
I have other best friends, of course. Nick may be the guy I wake up beside, the one who knows me better than anyone, the one who makes me laugh each day, but I don’t share everything with him, nor does he meet every one of my needs. That’s why I have Kiki, who’s known me since birth (quite literally), and Sarah, my sister-wife (sorry, but you know it’s true), and the handful of high school and college friends (miss you, Jill and Jessica!) and new but fantastic ladies (you know who you are, Karina). They, too, are best friends, and I love them to pieces.
With Nick, it’s different. We share this whole, nutty life thing – not to mention the kids and the dogs and the house and our families and Homeland (Dana, with the sexting… Come on, girl!) – and that, by its very nature, connects us in ways that no other relationship can. But still, at the core of the connection, is a deeply-seated friendship. Wrapped up in all kinds of love stuff, ’cause my heart still skips a beat after all these years.
We could pretend that this anniversary is like all the others. We could just talk about how lucky and grateful we are, how we love each other more now than before, how much fun we’ve had, how wild the journey has been, how we wouldn’t have had it any other way. But we’d be lying. It is different this year… because Bill isn’t here.
When we lost him, I lost a dear friend – and Nick lost a best friend. His absence colors everything we do, subconsciously and purposefully, even a day that’s about us. Do I wish that it didn’t? That he wasn’t always on our minds? Sure. I don’t mean that I’m tired of thinking about him, but rather that I wish we didn’t need to be thinking of him like this in the first place… because I wish he were cancer-free, still here, calling us today to wish us well. He isn’t, though… but we continue forward, together.
At our wedding reception, Bill made a short, simple, beautiful toast:
“I wish you the optimism to transcend difficult times
The authenticy to pursue your dreams
The flexibility to learn and adapt to a changing world
The charity to connect with others
And the expanding love to continue to embrace each other and all of us.”
I’d like to think that we’re fulfilling his wishes. Or, at least, that we’re trying.
This twelfth year has been a doozy. That whole “for better or for worse” part has been tested time and time again. It’s a long, winding, challenging, exhausting journey… But still, through it all, I’ve found that there’s no one I’d rather be walking – and laughing – beside than Nick. I can’t wait to see what the next dozen years bring us.
Happy 12th anniversary, babe. Now and forever.
(BTW – next time you want to push that “in sickness and in health” stuff to the limit, I propose some yoga. Or a walking tour of a winery. Or a bike ride to Starbucks. Juicing just wasn’t in the marriage vows.)