Sketches (Year 8)

I knew I loved her…

I knew that I loved Marissa during our first weekend together.

Something clicked, something indescribable.

We obviously hadn’t spent much time together yet but when I got that feeling, that first step forward was with a question:

“Would you like to meet Jackson?”

She said, “Yes” and somewhat unfairly, I knew that I was measuring Jackson’s response to her. If he didn’t connect with her, could I?

Of course, at that time, we didn’t know that Jackson had autism, since few signs were showing at that stage of his life.

Nevertheless, they bonded as well as I could have asked them to.

And from that distance I knew something about her was special.

That was a sketch.

Over the next year or so, I wrote Marissa countless songs. More so than I had committed to paper in such a concentrated amount of time in my life. I knew at some point that the well would run dry because it was impossible for me to keep up that rate of output. Invariably, that rang true which is why I made a point to record every song I wrote so she could have them for posterity. Of those, a song called “Lucky Man” became a song to point towards our future.

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, I walked up the stairs of her parents home with my guitar in hand, a capo on the neck of the guitar and an engagement ring tucked out of sight behind the capo.

Marissa was peeling potatoes in the kitchen getting the last bits of food ready for Thanksgiving that day. She saw that I came in with the guitar and remarked: “Oh, do I get a serenade?”

I propped myself up on a stool in her kitchen, jittering nervously trying to calm myself to be able to not only sing “Lucky Man” to her once again but to manage my way through towards a proposal without screwing anything up.

Somewhere in the midst of that song, Marissa happened to notice that during the serenade she was still peeling potatoes. She set down the potato and the peeler and adjusted her gaze to me.

The song ended, the ring came off the capo, a proposal was made, and in her excitement she called up her best friend to tell her the news. When she got off the phone, I asked her: “So, were you going to say yes?”

The yes to marriage came after the phone call.

This was a sketch.

On our wedding day, Jackson was our ring bearer; a vision in my mind that still brings tears to my eyes. The pastor who officiated the day retold a story we had told to him. When he asked me what I loved about the woman I planned to marry, I told him: I am just a rough sketch, Marissa provides the color.

That sentiment was shared 8 years ago today and still remains true.

Because it’s not just about the 8 years of marriage, it’s the nearly 13 years as a couple.

There is hardly a storm we have not had to weather together. We’ve experienced love, loss, grief, joy, anger, death and, of course, parenthood.

We have had to reinvent our relationship, our marriage, our conversations with one another, the time we spend when we have it, the way that we raise our child together, and the way that we protect the vows we made 8 years ago.

When they say for better or worse, no one ever defines the extremes of either. Because, for Marissa and I, the “worse” certainly met the mark, but the better…we keep beating the definition of that.

Every year I craft a slightly new and evolved narrative of what our relationship has turned into and the last couple have been rather spectacular. Perhaps there is something after all to “older and wiser.”

Certain things of note have changed, none of which were done out of obligation. We hold each other more, we compliment each other more, we hold hands more often, we embrace silence together more, we argue less, we dance more, we listen more attentively, we look at each other in ways we couldn’t appreciate before.

Eight years later, there are countless sketches being made: blueprints of a love that are filled with new colors and new shades crafting a reality of something better than we expected when we said those vows.

To my wife, as we celebrate the past, we celebrate the future. Thank you for every color you’ve painted into the sketches of our life. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.