Happy birthday to my handsome husband, Jay! I can hardly believe that I've been lucky enough to be married to him for nearly 4 1/2 years. I also can't believe that he is going to be thirty next year, yet still gets carded when he tries to buy a lottery ticket. (Of course, I still get carded for rated R movies, so perhaps we have both found the fountain of youth? I could learn to appreciate that, I suppose.)
I can't even express how thankful I am to have been the girl that was meant to be with Jay. I can honestly say I've never known anyone else quite like him. He is incredibly motivated, patient, hilarious, and has more faith that most people I've ever met. He works incredibly hard, never complains, runs marathons, tells the greatest stories, makes the most delicious dinners, reminds me of how I'm the only girl he's ever loved. He tends to drive me crazy some days, but even on those days I can't help but remind myself how lucky I am to be in a happy, healthy relationship with a man like him.
I remember when we first started dating and I had that calm assurance that he was "the one". Sure, there were moments of fireworks and emotions tied up in knots, but what always stood out most was that feeling of comfort. Of home. Of knowing that he was the person made to be my perfect fit.
For his birthday, Jay's mom sent him a bunch of letters she wrote to him while she was pregnant with him. I sat at the kitchen table this morning reading through each of them (tears streaming down my face, because I'm obviously the most emotional person in humanity), feeling so thankful to have him in my life. When you marry someone, and you've met them after they've already become the person they're going to be, you tend to forget about everything that happened before you met. It was touching to read the thoughts my mother-in-law had before Jay even came into the world. Aside from making me want to have a baby tomorrow afternoon, they made me think a lot about the moments of Jay's life that aren't touched by me at all.
When I was in Washington for Jay's youngest brother's wedding in July, there was one night that he and his brothers sat around for the longest time, laughing and reminiscing about their childhood. It felt so incredible to sit there and listen to these five brothers, talking about silly things they used to do and trouble they got into and the memories they cherish. It was special to me because I'm someone who can talk for hours about her childhood. Whenever I try to pull those things out of Jay, he never seems to remember them - but seeing him with his brothers? I realize that it's all there. And there are a million tiny moments that have all taken part in making him the man he is today.
As he turns 29, I have to appreciate everything that has helped make him who he is today. Most of all, his family. During my recent trip to Washington, I remember thinking about how that is the first time that I truly thought of his family as my family. We only get to see them a couple times a year, due to the distance between us, but despite all of that I have still built this incredible connection with them. But it seemed like this was the first time that I felt like I was going to visit my family and not just "the in-laws". It's the most amazing feeling to have this whole other family that loves you to bits and pieces and truly welcomes you with open hearts and arms. When I left to go home after the weekend was over, I was left with this feeling of overwhelming happiness as I realized I have not only one family, but two. Maybe it sounds silly, but I guess it finally hit me.
Jay is truly incredible. Although there are days where I want to shove him into a wall, or nag at him for being insensitive, or chide him for putting mass amounts of pepper on every meal he makes, I still look at him and see this man that I'm going to grow old with. I'm so excited to see where this next year takes him! He is one of the most driven, passionate people I've ever met. And I'm so thankful to have the chance to be a part of his life.
(Also, if our children can look exactly like he does in his baby pictures, my life will be complete. Amen.)