Part 4: We're just getting started
Thank you for sticking with our story. This has been rewarding for me to remember this time of my life with Hannah.
Our story continues with me moving out to Utah and soon after we started dating - if you can call it that! It turns out things moved very quickly for both of us. I moved to Utah just after Thanksgiving of 2003, and we were engaged on January 5th, 2004.
Old fashioned? You betcha! We were both ready…well as ready as any 21 and 22-year-old could be.
You could say our love story began when I saw the video of her, met her for ‘the tour’, and took her on our ‘date’. This could be true. But for me, our story doesn’t really begin until we were married on May 8th, 2004. Our courtship was fun, our wedding was stressful (we should have eloped, but that’s another story), and our honeymoon was fantastic. For me, those four months was enough time for us to get to know each other well enough, fall in love (to a point), and proceed 100% into a marriage. Little did we know, that true love…and I mean the love that endures, solidifies, and grows through challenge, heartache, loss, failure, fatigue, success, triumph, mistakes, forgiveness, tears, and….children. This, I believe is where true love is cultivated and we have become ‘one’ in our vision and purpose for this life and the life to come.
When was a teenager, I stumbled upon a note my father wrote for my mom. It was on my mom’s desk laying open and I admit I did read the last line, then closed it feeling guilty for prying. But I’ll never forget the last line. By this time they had been married for 30+ years and had been through a lot. The feeling my dad expressed for my mom, I can now express for Hannah. This is not a direct quote, but the sentiment and feelings are the same.
“You have so become a part of me that your presence in my life each and every day is a critical component to the proper functioning of my soul.”
I am not sure this was true when we were engaged or even first married, and I am not sure this is possible without the last 19 years of marriage. As I am sure is true with many couples, there are good times and there are hard times. Good days and bad. Wonderful times and awful times. Success and failure. Mistakes that need forgiveness. The list can, does, and will continue to go on. As I reflect on each of these times in my life with Hannah it is difficult to quantify the role each has played in her becoming such an integral part of me, or how we made it through some of the difficulties we’ve faced. Each of the events over the last 19 years has been very different. Miscarriages, failed business ventures, days we were poor college kids, working full time and going to school full time through 2 degrees, severe health challenges, successful business ventures, successful children (we have 2!)...and the list goes on. What, I think is the overwhelming key to successfully working through these events and making Hannah such an integral part of my soul is facing each of these times of our life together as a united couple - united in purpose, energy, and an anxious desire for each other’s welfare.
The night before my wedding, I asked my dad for some advice. And our conversation went like this. It was shorter than I was expecting, but then I remembered my dad is a master at keeping things simple.
We sat down and this is what he said...
“Well, find out what makes Hannah happy and do it.”
“That’s it?” I asked.
Advice session over.
Turns out to be the best advice I could have received. The unsaid half of that advice wasn’t obvious at first but has become the most important and difficult part of it…if there is something I am doing that is making her unhappy, don’t do it. Simple…but not easy.
Seeking ways to make Hannah happy, whether it's doing something she loves, or stopping something that makes her unhappy, is one of the greatest privileges of my life. Easy? Not even close. Worth it? Absolutely. I have experienced more joy in our 19-year marriage with this focus on her than anything else I have ever done.
So this is our love story that is still unfolding. We are still young and have years ahead of us and challenges to face and triumphs to endure.
The strangeness of it all is that even though we’ve been through so much in 19 years, it feels like we’re just getting started, know so little, and have so much still to do.