The Sixteenth Letter: Eleven Years In

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Dear Daughters,

Eleven years ago today, your dad and I got married in a tall stone church on State Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was a hot June weekend in the Susquehanna River valley, and the roads near the church were roped off for a race. I saw family members who’d gotten stuck in traffic sneaking in just before I walked down the aisle.

We said in our wedding vows that we would serve God together, side by side.

Side by side.

Side by side for eleven years. Towering over most other human beings.

Two states, three graduate degrees, two apartments, two houses, four cars, two daughters, in eleven years.

We’ve lost five grandparents and found four nephews and two nieces in eleven years.

We’ve sanded down hardwood floors, painted and mudded walls and more walls and more walls, built a deck, planted gardens, strapped IKEA boxes on top of the Outback, dealt with motion sick babies. Eleven years.

We’ve walked with friends through divorce and remarriage, infertility and miscarriage. We’ve watched all ten seasons of FRIENDS an embarrassing number of times. We’ve entered the world of smart phones. Eleven years.

We’ve been published and—more often than not—received rejection letters. We’ve applied for jobs and not gotten them. We’ve gotten liturgical, begun eating locally, and started buying fair trade chocolate. Eleven years.

We’ve read a lot of books, written a lot of poems, attended a lot of Over the Rhine concerts. We’ve stopped drinking any tea in the morning that isn’t PG Tips. We eat Thai food on Tuesdays. Eleven years.

We’ve gone to Italy and slept in an airport in Atlanta. We’ve roadtripped it to the Grand Canyon and rented cars in Seattle. We’ll always call Pennsylvania home, but have managed to plant deep roots wherever “here” is. Texas. Kentucky. Eleven years.

We’ve gotten a little preachy on our soapboxes, stronger in our convictions, and urgent in our causes. We also go to bed earlier. Eleven years.

We’ve started going gray. Taking a little longer to recover from hard work days. Wrinkling around the eyes when we smile. Eleven years.

I’ve asked your dad many times over the last eleven years—“Do you think everyone has as much fun as we do?”

Because we have a lot of fun.

Not that there haven’t been tears and frustrations and anger and tears. Lots of tears. Life is hard and marriage is harder. Those months and years after having babies? The hardest. At least for me.

And eleven years in? Still hard.

But still fun, too.

I can’t imagine being side by side with anyone else.

I don’t know what our marriage will look like to you, growing up in this house. You’ll see the tears sometimes, and you’re both already such sensitive and sweet girls. But you’ll also hear the laughter and joking, the singing and dancing. You’ll see the book reading, you’ll hear the soapboxes, you’ll eat the tofu. And you’ll probably tower over everyone, too.

Regardless, as your dad and I serve God together, side by side, I love knowing that we’ll have you toddling along behind.

Stay close.

Love,

Your Momma

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