Believe it or not, I've been thinking about our Anniversary all week. It seems neither you or I have had the luxury lately of thinking of such things amidst "Life with Autism" - let alone "Life" itself. I even ventured to Hallmark during a time Matt didn't have my tan minivan, but even then there were no "Happy Anniversary" cards worthy of "Warrior-Married-Parents-of-a-Child-with-Autism".
But not to worry, your girlfriend Shania Twain came to my rescue. Her song came on, and after crying through it, I knew that it would be my Anniversary card to you. It says everything so well. I sit here chuckling how clueless we were that day on June 25, 1988. All we knew was that we loved each other. We had the naivity of new Christians in thinking how when they took the plunge to follow Christ -- all would be well. How that painful path to the cross by a bruised, beaten, and bloody Savior was only to be walked by that Savior and no one else. How pain, disappointment, betrayal, and hardship was only for him to experience and us to merely read about! How naive! How wrong!
We knew we loved each other, but we didn't know love. We knew we had plans together, but we didn't know God's plans. You can't know love until you have lived through it, as much as you can't know what lies ahead until you're there. I think the actual "Wedding Day" is more a "Celebration of Cluelessness" -- in thinking you have your life ahead all figured out. It's only with each passing Anniversary that you actually earn the right to celebrate "Love" and "Being Married". I remember those first few years of "Cluelessness". The lines in her song "I bet they'll never make it" were things that I'm sure crossed many people's minds. Admittedly, including my own because for whatever reasons, that's all I've ever known in my life. But then there was always you, the rock of our marriage then as well as now, answering with "but just look at us holding on, we're still together, still going strong".
That has never been more true than after "Life with Autism". It blows my mind how each year since that diagnosis, we have defied the odds of divorce. It's high enough in just a "normal" marriage. Throw in a hardship, it's even higher. Throw in a lifelong disability, and we should be getting some sort of "Nobel Prize for Marriage" for sticking it out through all we have! And we have stuck it out through a lot, haven't we? To actually sit here and think of all that we have been through, - like we always say, "We can't make this stuff up!" All the love, laughter, craziness, joy, sorrow, blessings, thankfulness... Wow.... I think our most hilarious moments, at least for me, were when well meaning friends would invite us to marriage seminars or recommend books on marriage. I chuckle thinking about that... There's a seminar to prepare you for the devastation of a diagnosis of autism, no treatments, and no help? I mean really, there's a seminar that demonstrates a husband coming home from work, sliding in a pile of leaky-gut poop, then sitting down to a frozen dinner, denied insurance claims, and mounting medical bills, right after that? There's a "how to" book for tag-team parenting? For surviving the "no vacation"? There's someone standing behind a podium that has never experienced the degree of ongoing trials that a family like ours has, but who thinks they can really put together a power point presentation to teach you how to stay when everything in your flesh is screaming - enough!? Those topped only by the Christian seminar that shows you how to have a Godly marriage even though that couple can't even find a "Godly Church" that will accept and welcome their child with a disability. (Yes, laughter with a side of sarcasm is my marriage tip of the day!)
Certain things and certain situations you learn by sheer faith. By hanging on to hope when you have nothing left to hang on to. By living through them. And laughing despite them. By staying when you want to leave. By loving when you want to hate. By praying to God when you're tempted to side with satan.
I think we would both agree, that the best marriage advice is found in the lines of that song, "you're still the one I run to, still the one that I belong to, you're still the one I want for life, you're still the one that I love, the only one I dream of, you're still the one I kiss good night...."
That, and still being in Love with the Lord...
The only other ONE we both run to.
The only other ONE we belong to.
The only ONE we want for life.
The ONE we love.
Thank you Lord for teaching us about love.
Thank you Brandon for teaching us about life.
Thank you Matthew for teaching us about laughter.
And thank you Todd for "....ain't nothin' better, we beat the odds together, we're still together, still going strong, looks like we made it, look how far we've come my baby."
And how far we have yet to go...
Happy Anniversary Todd!
(click highlighted link below to play video)
You're Still the One