“I always knew the day would come,
When I’d need to take a stand,
Before I wasn’t sure I could,
But now I know I can.”
That was how I started my proposal poem as I dropped to one knee, on the edge of the Na Pali cliffs of Kauai, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Being right there on the edge, surrounded by the vast opportunities of the ocean, provided an imperfect reflection of my life up to that point. The incredible splendor of the setting and the amazing beauty of the person in front of me were the perfect analogy for the life that lay ahead of me. That glorious moment was the penultimate step of what became the greatest decision of my life – marrying my awesome wife, Melanie. I thank God every day that He brought us together (and that she said yes – I mean, you never know!) 🙂
A funny aside. One of my most enduring memories of that moment was not when she said yes as much as her screaming at me to get back from the edge. She later told me she was concerned that she had waited all that time for me to finally(!) propose and didn’t want to then lose me over the cliff. Always thinking about others. 🙂
A few short months later, on a spectacular Saturday the 24th of September, in front of God and in the company of hundreds of friends and family, we entered into a lifelong commitment. That was twenty eight years ago. (I’ve said many times that it really should have been several years before that, but I was young and stupid – at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). 🙂
When we got married, believing it to be for life (better or worse, all that) 🙂 I thought we’d have an outside chance at 50. After my ALS diagnosis, I feel incredibly blessed just to be here to celebrate 28. But you know what? I was never guaranteed one, let alone 50 or even 28.
My ALS diagnosis has provided me with a new perspective about my anniversary, and my marriage in general. That being… Why do I need to wait 365 days to celebrate? Screw that.
See, I’m not guaranteed my next year – and I hate to tell you, but neither are you. So I have made the conscious and deliberate decision that am going to celebrate these blessings, the greatest of which are my wife and family, Every. Damn. Day. 24/7/365 (366, if I’m lucky) 🙂
I’ve never been one to tell others how to live. But I will simply say that because of my diagnosis, the new philosophy it bestowed upon me has actually, in a strange twist, brought me great joy – despite my situation. I heartily recommend finding that same joy, and find it now – not when some life-changing situation forces you to do so. And when you find it, I don’t mean celebrate once a year, or once a month, or once a week. I mean Every. Damn. Day.
I may not get the chance to celebrate my 50th (annual) Wedding Anniversary. But the way I look at my wife, the joy I find in every day we have together, will allow me to celebrate her and our marriage, our kids, and our life together so many more times than I ever would have otherwise.
The joy is there. I promise you. Look for it. Find it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. While you are still blessed to have the chance to do so.