Today's date calls to mind a myriad of images and thoughts, but the most prevalent is the memory of the event that makes this date so special for me; our wedding day.
It was a day of sunshine and warmth, as most days are in Miami, and my first thought when I woke up was that this was the last I would spend in my room at my parent's house. It wasn't long before I was standing in front of that home, where I had spent my teen years, my wedding gown laid out on the back seat of my girlfriend's car, and my dad standing beside me with tears in his eyes. It was only the second time in my life I'd ever seen him cry. "See you at the church, Daddy," I said, kissing his cheek.
Staring out a window, in an upstairs room at the church, dressed in my dream gown, with my bridesmaids and my mother as companions, I had my only moments of nervousness - because the groom was late! I could see my dad, pacing out in front of the church entrance. I had no qualms that R.J. wouldn't show up; he was always late for everything. It was a little distressing to me, however, that he would continue that bad habit on our most important day! But then I saw the best man's car pull up and R.J. get out, looking harried, but handsome. He exchanged words with my dad and he laughed, and they walked into the church. The moment I had waited for my whole life was upon me.
As the strains of the wedding march began, my dad leaned over and whispered, "Be happy, honey" and I answered that I was sure I would. And I was. Walking down the aisle, seeing only R.J. at the altar, I had none of those butterflies or doubts that I've heard many brides have at that moment. I knew I was doing the "most right" thing I had ever done by marrying this man.
Our years together have proven that. No, they haven't all been easy, and a couple of times we nearly gave up. But we always found a way back to each other because neither of us could imagine a life without the other. I always look to him as my confidante, my lover, my rock in times of crisis, and the person I'd rather spend time with than any other. I can truly say I am still married to my best friend.
We've struggled at times, we've thrived and enjoyed our bounty when those times presented themselves, and we've shared experiences so unique we still don't believe that a lot of them happened to us. We are infinintely proud of our two children, who are now raising children of their own. They all give us new joys and experiences that enrich our marriage as well.
So, tonight, after 44 years of learning and sharing together, we will take to the dance floor at our favorite lounge, the historic Pump Room in Chicago, to spend a few special moments recreating the first time we ever danced together, in the cafeteria of our high school, at a dance where we first fell in love. And I will pray that we're still celebrating the same way 44 years from now.