For better or worse, and also a global pandemic.
To my love,
When we said, "for better or worse" that day, there were many scenarios I suppose we could have imagined. And there have been many predictable highs we've celebrated and lows we've overcome during the course of our marriage.
Our "better" moments included becoming parents, taking adventures together, buying our first house, Netflix on the couch and laughing until our sides hurt. Our "worse" moments involved sleepless nights and confusion of new parenthood, navigating the unknown and arguing over whose turn it is to take out the trash.
If we'd had a window into the future on the day we said those vows, these would all have been things we'd have expected to see. What we could not have foreseen was a global pandemic.
We could not have predicted the year the whole world would shut down. We could not have imagined the "better or worse" that this year would bring—fear for our health and the health of our family, canceled plans and not being able to hug parents and grandparents. Never (ever) having a moment alone, and feeling frayed at the edges as we juggled homeschooling, frustrated children, full-time jobs, and everything in between.
The "better" has looked like eating dinner as a family on a weeknight for the first time ever. Our mid-morning walks in the forest to burn off our kids' energy. The quiet, unprecedented silence in the streets as the world withdrew to wait out quarantine.
No, 2020 was not what we imagined that day we said "I do."
But now, my love, as we start to emerge on the other side of quarantine (did we even use that word before this very strange year?), and we face each other, exhausted, across the kitchen table (the homeschooling books piled high between us), there's a whole new list of "better and worse" in the rearview mirror—a whole new experience we've walked through together.
There are some things about this year I'd like to forget, and some I hope I never do.
I'll remember that sometimes you're right for being the paranoid one. Like when you were bulk buying toilet paper back in February while I still naively thought the virus wouldn't come to us.
I'll remember how during quarantine you always did the weekly shopping, venturing out into a world that was quiet and eerie and unwelcoming, donning your face mask like a superhero and returning home victorious with bags full of fresh veggies and healthy snacks (and wine).
I'll remember you gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) shush-ing our girls when I was on conference calls,making sure they knew my job is just as important as yours is.
I'll remember you sharing the load (and loads of laundry), and having the foresight to buy that new barbecue just before lock-down.
I'll remember you being strong and positive when, elbow deep in snack preparation and coronavirus fatigue, I couldn't muster the energy to do it for myself.
I'll remember you letting me do the same for you on your darker days.
On the good days, our marriage is characterized by the gentle push and pull between us of one being strong for the other, like passing the baton or lobbing a tennis ball over a net. On the best days, we're like Forrest Gump and Bubba in Vietnam: "I'm gonna lean up against you, you just lean right back against me. This way, we don't have to sleep with our heads in the mud."
They told us when we were young that life would throw the unexpected our way. I never quite believed it until 2020, but I'm proud of how we've handled it. I'm glad you were standing next to me when it happened, and I know that one day we will tell our daughters and their children about the year the world stopped and we lived in our little bubble together.
We will tell them that there was the better and there was the worse and that we came out stronger on the other side.
Above all, we will tell them that life spent together with family brings much, much more of the "better" than the "worse."