12 years ago on Sunday I married Keith. We had been dating for 13 months and known each other 17 months. Friends boycotted our wedding, family told us we were ruining each others lives. He wasn’t christian enough, I wasn’t christian enough. Or maybe we both weren't Christian enough. We were too young. We hadn’t dated long enough. He was my only boyfriend. The list of why we shouldn’t take this step was shared with us over and over and over.
We ignored everyone, listened to our hearts, put our hands together, and jumped forward together into life. I was 21, and he was 23. We were so young. Statistics said we’d be divorced far longer than we’d remain married. I grew up with no father figure, his parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. We had no examples to follow of a healthy relationship. We fought. We got counseling. We battled 3 years of infertility. We had a beautiful baby girl and I almost died. I laid in the ICU, in severe heart failure, and he held our newborn daughter to my breast so she could nurse. They slept in the lobby and never left my side. I got a blood clot and was in bed for months recovering. He worked and took care of us.
Doctors told us to never have more children or I would surely die. They told me to tie my tubes at 24. We believed God had a different plan, and stepped out in faith, and got pregnant again. Only I didn’t die, our baby did. But I did relapse back into heart failure.
We weathered the loss of our beloved daughter together and grieved and felt pain like no person ever should. Together.
They told us again-no more children. Again we knew God had a different plan, and that Mairi’s prayer for 2 years for a baby brother named Eli would be granted. We walked through post loss pregnancy-hope tainted with fear and desperation-together. We heard Eli cry, and saw him alive, and our hearts began to heal in a way they hadn’t before. Together.
We decided we weren’t the role models we wanted to be for our children, we wanted more for them and for our family. So we embarked on a lifelong journey to change our outsides so that we could begin to fix our broken insides. We lost almost 300lbs in a year together-sweating, crying, and realizing how much work we needed but we did it together.
We became professional hula hoopers. We appeared on multiple national and local media and print. We started traveling the world. We stepped out in faith again and walked the still harrowing journey of post loss pregnancy together again, and welcomed our 2nd sweet rainbow into our family.
Together. Always together. There is no Keith without Jen and no Jen without Keith.
To everyone that never believed in us, we made it anyway-against every single adversity that should ruin a relationship, we have never wavered, and have grown stronger together because of all we’ve faced. Sometimes things that don’t make sense to others, only make sense in our hearts. And I thank God every day of my life that for the first time in my life, I listened to myself and trusted my heart, even though it didn’t make sense to anyone else.
Happy 12 years of marriage, Keithy. We’ve lived 5 lifetimes together already, I can only begin to imagine the randomness that awaits us together in the next dozen years together. Thanks for loving me when no one else did. For believing in me when no one else did. Thanks for being worth the wait. Thanks for everything you do, every single day, for me and our children. I’ve never known a love on this earth like yours, and endeavour every day to return to you as much as you give to me.
Together, always. Keith+Jen=Love.