A few months ago my husband and I were in our living room catching up on each other’s busy day after putting the kids to bed. We were going over the highlights of our week – what was going on at the office, our boys’ lives at school, the funny things they said or did, our summer plans – when Sean looked at me and said somewhat seriously: “We have a big anniversary coming up.”
My mind went into alert-mode. Anniversary? What day was it? What month were we in? Life was speeding by in a colorful blur and I felt like I had to take a moment and slow my brain down. Wedding anniversary. Wait, how long had we been married? Quick math. Finger counting. Wow. Ten years.
I thought about it for a moment. So much has happened, and yet it seemed like just yesterday we were planning to spend the rest of our lives together.
A decade ago I was in the middle of meteorology classes and exams. He was busy applying for a Master’s program and we were both working full time. But one cold February morning, Sean asked me to take a walk – and take a break.
He put on the green wool sweater he had worn on our first date. I noticed he hadn’t worn it in a long time, and commented that I loved that sweater – why didn’t he wear it more often? I didn’t pick up on the fact that this was the first time he had worn it SINCE our very first date five years or so before. I remember marveling at the time that he was so lucky that years later clothes still fit him – whereas I was always screaming at my fluctuating numbers on the scale.
We walked towards midtown from our Upper West Side apartment and Sean suggested we go to the Prime Burger for lunch on East 51st Street, right down the block from St Patrick’s Cathedral. This is the famous burger restaurant where the décor hadn’t changed for decades. It was also the place where Sean and I had our very first date. “Yes! I agreed. “We haven’t been there in years.”
Once again -not picking up on the bread crumbs he was clearly dropping in front of me. We arrived at the Prime Burger and noticed it was closed. Darn it. I was hungry! (And stressed out from studying thermodynamics equations). A couple of women walked by and were also disappointed about the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign. They saw us standing out in front and asked if we knew another place to eat close by. “I think there’s a few spots up towards Sixth Avenue,” I said, “and we’re coming with you!”
I started to charge down the block with my new hungry tourist friends when Sean grabbed my hand and had a frantic look in his eye. “No. Not yet! ” he said. “What?” I pleaded - it’s closed, I’M HUNGRY! “No wait!” I had no idea what Sean was doing.
He then reached for his breast pocket. In the midst of New York City scaffolding and in front of a vacant restaurant Sean took out a small velvet box. My heart was racing. WAS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? I knew I had to make an imprint of this moment on my brain. He took out a ring – a flash of sparkle. And put it on my finger. I look at him. He smiles. “Janice, will you marry me?”
Sean then quickly reached into his other pocket and pulled out a handkerchief because he knew I would need it to wipe away hundreds of happy tear drops.
“Yes, yes of course I will!” Suddenly, I realize all the clues I had missed. The green sweater, the restaurant where we had our first date. I don’t think I even looked at the ring. I was just so caught up the moment. Pure joy. The rest of our lives were about to begin.
A few months went by. Sean and I talked about planning a wedding, but we were both so busy. We started writing down a guest list. Trying to figure out the how, what, where. And then one of us had an idea. Why don’t we just elope? Pick a day on the calendar and go to City Hall. That sounded like a perfect plan. I bought a dress, he bought a suit. We had our friends Mark and Jen stand up for us and we both took the day off work. It was a beautiful June day.
Fast forward back to our living room almost ten years later. Sean asked me if on our tenth anniversary, we could get married in church. “Make it official?” I laughed. What a wonderful idea. Our boys would be there with us. How special to have our two most cherished gifts from our union to share in our wedding vows. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Looking back on my life, I’ve come to realize that my marriage to Sean was the best thing that ever happened to me. For so many years I was on my own and wondered if I would ever find a partner to share my life with. When I trace my steps I see every path I’ve gone down – every job I’ve taken, every city I’ve lived in and experiences I’ve had – has led to me to meeting this wonderful person. He’s the best man I know. We still enjoy each other’s company, laugh easily together, share the same values and are so blessed to have to our beautiful boys. I cannot imagine my life without him.
Sean, I hope you still have that handkerchief handy. I may shed a few happy tears. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together again. As husband and wife. Amen.