October 18, 1986
We had the best day. The sun was shining, our plans well laid and, surrounded by family and friends, we promised to love each other through thick and thin, through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
Our little girl was our flower girl and she was so cute. In the years that followed, every time we drove past that quaint little church, she would say loud and proud: “That’s where we got married, Mummy and Daddy.”
Our second child two came into our lives. You told your brother it was a boy. I think it was the lack of sleep, or perhaps too many celebratory drinks. Either way it doesn’t matter because I had to break the news that ‘he’ was, in fact, a ‘she’.
We welcomed daughter number three and I was so happy she was healthy, I was. But I was also exhausted. The pregnancy had not been without its complications and she arrived amid the devastating news that we could not have any more children.
After years of moving from job to job, you finally secured permanent work and we stopped struggling hand to mouth for a little while.
I returned to full-time work and our girls went into daycare. My heart ached each time I dropped them off. But even when life isn’t tough, it’s still expensive, and we needed the extra money.
We had our first family holiday and drove four days to take our girls to see snow for the first time. As blizzards raged across the mountains, we froze in the house we’d rented. How was I to know it didn’t have central heating – or any other type of heating for that matter?
We bought our first home. It was nothing special, but it was ours. We painted the walls, stripped and varnished the floorboards and I made curtains. We loved it for the short amount of time that it belonged to us.
We sold our home, packed up our possessions, our girls, and our car, and drove a thousand miles to live in another city where the prospect of a business partnership called. Leaving a lifetime of family and friends behind strengthen our bond and drew all of us closer.
We bought our second home. Unlike our first, this one was something special and would remain so for almost 10 years. When our girls look back on their childhood, they always speak of happy days and happy times in that house.
I took a promotion that cost us a lot of money and we returned to struggling, living hand to mouth as home loan interest rates seemed to have increased as much as my pay decreased.
My mother died. It was never a plan that she would leave us so young or so suddenly and without any warning whatsoever. I took it hard, and you held my hand while I came to terms with a life devoid of her love and her laughter.
1997 & 1998
Those immediate years following my mother’s death are still a blur. I can’t fathom how time leaked from my life. Something must have happened, but nothing I can grasp. You and the girls were there with me, that I remember.
We spent New Year’s Eve apart. It was odd. You worked and I stayed home with the girls and fell asleep on the couch waiting to wish you a Happy New Year, a joyous start to a new millennium.
I cried when I broke my engagement ring, but a jeweller was able to repair it. This was the first time it had been off my finger since our wedding day. It felt weird.
During birthday festivities for one of our girls, ‘someone’ broke the toilet. It didn’t stop flushing, oh no, that wasn’t the problem. They smashed the bowl in half. I’m laughing thinking about it, but that our daughter’s friends then took up a collection to help pay for a new one showed us that her friends were as good as the children we raised.
We went on a cruise around the South Pacific. The girls thought it was a hoot being left ‘home alone’, but I fretted and worried about them every day and even more so when I called from Vanuatu and no-one answered the phone.
We sold our home and bought a new one, a brand new one. We all loved our old home, but it was old and impossible to resist cashing in on the equity it had gained. Our new home was a stark contrast, with a much smaller yard that you loved and – no maintenance, at least for the foreseeable future anyway.
We enjoyed our next solo holiday, but by now our girls were much older and I didn’t worry too much about them while we toured around New Zealand’s south island. I still want to go back for another holiday.
It’s our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I woke and rolled over to look at you. You were already awake and looking at me. You took a breath to say something and I thought it would be something heartfelt. Merely a “Happy Anniversary” would’ve been nice. But you looked at me all serious like and said: “I could have been a free man today!”
I broke my engagement ring again but this time the repairs went horribly wrong and I cried for some time over what the jeweller had done.
I spent nine weeks overseas with work. The longest we’d ever been apart, and there were days when I found it really hard. You arrived in Montreal on the evening of our 22nd Wedding Anniversary and I was so happy to see you I burst into tears. Who said I’m tough?
You broke your back, or at least you told me it felt like you did when you bent down to tie up your shoelaces. But you just took a pain-killer and soldiered on because we were going bushwalking with a group of like-minded nature lovers. It wasn’t until we got home six hours later that you realised just how bad your back was.
After suffering for almost a year, your back was operated on and you spent four weeks flat on your back playing Xbox. Six weeks later, you were surfing in the Maldives. What a remarkable recovery, but then, perhaps a surgeon who is the best of the best, really is just that.
Twenty-five years after saying I do, we celebrated surrounded by our daughters and their partners, and my broken ring was replaced, same gold, new stone, new design. I now wear the original diamond in a pendant around my neck.
We sold our home and moved into a unit. Downsize they said. Declutter they said. It’ll cleanse the soul they said. We wished we’d never listened. Selling our house and moving into a unit was the biggest mistake we’d ever made, but little did we know our toughest year was ahead of us.
We finally admitted that we needed to sell that unit and get back into a house.
We’d sold our unit, and shortly after, I lost my job and gained a completely new perspective on life. You quit your job and we set out on our adventure of a lifetime travelling around Australia, loving living and laughing all the way.
All of 2015
We spent the entire year on the road, seeing parts of our country we thought we’d only ever dream of seeing. What an adventure we had, an amazing time in our lives that we will never forget.
October 18, 2016
So here we are today, our 30th Wedding Anniversary. I remember someone telling me to not wear pearls on my wedding day, that they represented tears. If that’s true, they must represent tears of laughter. What a ride we’ve had and what wonderful times we’ve shared with each other.
You are my soul mate, my best friend, the other half that makes me whole. I hope we have another 30 years together because I don’t want to think about life without you.