I have lived a lot in my 40 years. I have floated in the Dead Sea. I have seen the Mona Lisa. I have walked where Anne Frank walked. I have experienced a Booze Cruise in Mexico. I saw where Shakespeare was born. I stood where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. I smoked pot (legally) in Amsterdam. I drank high tea in London. I stood on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
And I have been married 3 times. To the same love of my life.
Our first wedding was in May 2010. It was a dream day and everything I could have wanted. When I close my eyes, I can still picture my dress and our first dance and the feeling of love that was in the banquet hall with us on that day.
Our second wedding was in October 2012. An Elvis impersonator married us on the Las Vegas Strip. We were still newlyweds in a way. The chapel said they did not usually do vow renewals for couples that had married as short a period of time as us. But they gladly did it and we had the best time celebrating that in spite of all that life had thrown our way, we were stronger for it.
Our third wedding was this past weekend. Gary surprised me with a 40th birthday party. He invited our family and closest friends. All of the people there were at our original wedding. One of my closest friends flew in from North Carolina. My college roommate drove up from Virginia. All of our siblings were there. All my nieces and nephews were there. All my friends kids were there, too. It was such a special day. My mom, Gary's parents...there was love all around us.
When we first walked in, after the initial surprise was over, Gary made an announcement to thank everyone for coming out to help us celebrate my birthday. Then he said that he did not know when we first met how much I liked birthday's, but over the years, he has come to understand. And he wanted to make this one very memorable. He said he had been thinking about the first time he proposed and he realized that if he were to do it again, he would do it the same way. He would take me to a restaurant. He would get down on one knee and he would ask me to marry him. And with that, he got down on one knee, took a beautiful ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him all over again. This time, I knew better to ask if he was serious. I exclaimed, "Yes!!!!"
Then he slipped out of the room. I had no idea where he went. He burst back in and said he did not want to wait to marry me again. He wanted to do it right now. He grabbed a bouquet of flowers off the table, put them in my shaking hands. I looked up and saw the rabbi who officiated our wedding walk in through the doors. I was speechless.
The rabbi explained that Gary had contacted her months ago for asking if she would help us renew our vows. She gladly accepted.
What followed was a 10 minute mini-ceremony where we reaffirmed our love and commitment for each other. She talked about our first born, Allison Paige, and how loving her made us stronger. How she is still with us in everything we do. How she knows how much we loved her and still do. Then she asked Miranda to join us and she spoke to the 3 of us. She said how lovely it was to see us as parents and the love we have for Miranda is so clear. She spoke of how lucky Miranda is to have us and for us to have her. The rest is a blur and I am thankful my brother recorded it so I can watch it when I am ready to again!
Then the ceremony was over, I wiped the tears away, and the party began. Kids and cousins running all around shrieking with fun. Friends hugging and catching up. Family sharing stories. It was fantastic. The day went by too fast, as all the good ones do.
I never thought I could love like I do. I never thought I could be loved like I am. If this is 40, then maybe I 40 is not so bad after all!