We are breaking from our regularly scheduled blog programming because TODAY is Darren’s birthday! My Darren—my husband, my teammate, my closest friend. I often tell him that he’s my “best part’a life”—and I really, really mean it. I can’t believe I get to be partnered up with him on this wild journey.
Leading up to our wedding in August of 2015, I wrestled with my vows to Darren. I could write them, of course, but speaking them to him, with nearly 200 friends and family bearing witness, felt…complicated.
“I feel like I’m just going to be lying in front of everyone,” I said to my pastor and friend, Paul, several weeks before the wedding. To me, the vows are the crux of the entire wedding ceremony. They are the solemn promises we make to one another as we forge ahead, committing to a lifetime together.
But no one can possibly stay true to the words of their vows day in and day out, year after year. We’re going to mess them up. We’re going to fail one another. We’re going to fall short. We don’t talk about that, though; we just gather together for the wedding and celebrate the beauty and hope of the promises made, all the while knowing we can’t really live up to those promises all the time.
It was March 3rd—a Friday night. I remember the date because the wristband the hospital gave me said 3/3, and I was a couple weeks into being age 33. I was experiencing sharp, debilitating pain in my right ear; that, along with the fragile history of my troubled hearing and ear surgeries, led us to the Emergency Room in a panic.
Well, I was panicked. Darren remained calm and strong; while I sobbed uncontrollably as we walked into the ER, unsure of what was happening to my ear, Darren prayed for me. “I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” I screamed, terrified my hearing was gone and unable to make out what he was saying to me. “I’m just praying for you, I’m just praying, I’m praying,” he repeated. Before we made it to the front desk, he paused to hold me tightly as I caught my breath between fearful sobs.
The series of events that unfolded in the ER that evening were dramatic. After being told nothing was visibly wrong with my ear, my eardrum ruptured while we were waiting to be released. Darren, unsure what to do as my violent screams echoed through the halls, held my hand, whispered fervent prayers, and found the emergency call button to get a doctor to our room immediately. I was scared of the repercussions this rupture would have on my recently restored hearing, but felt profoundly safe with this man who was close, grounding, and peace-filled.
By the time we were in the car on the way home that night, I had morphine flowing through my veins, disempowering the pain and fear that had been in control. I yipped on and on about how hot it was in the car and then, in what seemed like a matter of seconds, I had tears flowing down my face because I couldn’t believe how “nice Darren is, and I’m so terrible.” He played along with my morphine-induced emotional swing and didn’t even video record my crazy.
As he tucked me into bed that night (before leaving to pick up my prescriptions from the drugstore), I remember seeing a quick yet vivid flashback to our wedding. We were standing on the round rug we had at our ceremony, which now lies at the foot of our bed, and our eyes were locked. We spoke our vows, me first and then him. Suddenly, I recalled how my pastor and friend, Paul, had responded to the anxiety I felt about speaking my vows: “They are your intentions. You will not hold them perfectly, but write them to reflect what you want to strive towards in your marriage.”
He was right—we haven’t kept our promises all the time, but those vows serve as a sort of roadmap for how we want to honor one another. While I drifted to sleep on that chaotic March 3rd, I wondered if maybe I could invite over all those people who had been at our wedding. We would eat together, dance unashamedly, and raise our glasses for a few toasts. Because this—this act of caring for me when I am sick, praying for me when I am scared, and being patient with me when I am floating on a cloud of morphine—this is what is to be celebrated. I’m all for weddings, don’t you even get me wrong, but that’s the celebration of sweet beginnings and well-intentioned vows. When the vows that were spoken are actually lived—well, that’s pure goodness.
This is the snapshot of my husband I want you to see today. He makes an effort to live his vows, remaining aware of how his actions align with his promises. He’s not perfect, which is fantastic news for me and my imperfections, but he is intentional. As good as it was to celebrate our wedding day by sharing the promises we hoped to live into in our marriage, I find it even better to celebrate some of the moments when those promises are kept. This is, after all, what it’s all about.
I raise my glass to you today, my Darren. You make me better and I just love life with you.