I first saw you on a Sunday morning, in Bible class. The teacher asked a question, and I was so impressed by your answer. My heart sighed a happy sigh at the wisdom of your words. Oh how I loved going to church so I could talk with you afterwards about our favorite books and songs.
And you were so handsome, I was constantly trying not to look at you. I had such a crush on you. I don’t think I ever stopped having a crush on you, all through high school. It must have been so obvious to everyone.
On our first wedding anniversary, we were working as summer staff at Camp Tahkodah, and your dad sent us a letter. I remember because it struck me as funny. He told us he was proud of us and that we had done much better in our first year of marriage than he had expected. His statement surprised me, because I hadn’t known that he hadn’t expected us to fare very well that first year.
But he was right – we had had a good year. Such a good year, and so much fun, even though we had very little money. And it’s not that I’ve magically forgotten the bad, early days that so many married couples talk about either: I specifically remember thinking at the time that our first year was wonderful. After our second year I remember looking back and thinking, I thought we’d had a great first year, but the second year was even better.
When we’d been married five years, someone asked me what was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me. I was enormously pregnant with our second child, and the first thing out of my mouth was, “when my husband respected me enough to ask my parents if he could court me, even before he talked to me about it.” This, I realized, was not necessarily a conventionally romantic thing to say.
Later I would decide something else unconventional was romantic: the time you took me to marriage counseling. We’d been married eleven years, and every single one of those years had been good to us. We were happy and didn’t think we needed marriage help, but that week of intensive counseling in Colorado changed us more than you or I could have ever imagined.
These two things don’t seem incredibly romantic at first glance. But they both show me unequivocally how very much you care about me. That you care enough to do uncomfortable things, like ask my parents for permission to win my heart, or travel ten hours from home with three small children and a nursing baby just to invest in our marriage.
So thank you. Thank you for caring for me. For putting up with my hypochondriac-ness and my weird TCK issues. For making me laugh every day. For being a safe place to land, and for always treating me like an equal. Most of all, thank you for the sweet gift of eighteen years of friendship and fourteen years of wedded bliss.
I belong with you, Jonathan Trotter —
For always, forever, for life,
And with my whole heart, I want to say