Okay, so I don’t believe it’s luck. Actually at all.
It’s God. It’s grace and forgiveness. And it’s a whole lotta fight!
But today, on two different continents, and 4 babies later (does a belly baby count?), we celebrate 13!
Happy September 30th, Baby!
So, my dear Richie…If I may, here are some of the Top 13 Memories I have with you.
Oh, and I am not going to include our engagement, wedding or children’s births…those are givens.
Starting at 13 and going toward number 1…
13. Backpacking through Yosemite with you and being robbed of our food by bear cubs and THEN mama bear!
Remember what you and Brian did? We were told, if a bear approaches, make noise, wave sticks in the air, and throw rocks. Well…I am still pretty sure it was NOT a good idea to throw a rock at baby cub, knocking it out of the tree. Mama came back—big and MAD! None of us got great sleep that night, eh? Good thing there were two of us couples to take night-watch shifts.
But, truly, the greatest memory from all of this was when the sun was rising and mama and her two cubs were crossing the horizon just in front of the sun merely hundreds of yards from us. I have hardly, to this day, seen anything so beautiful.
12. Going backpacking with you in the middle of November—straight up—switchbacks! I was freezing cold. My feet were tired. And it was HARD! Once we finally reached the top, you put up the tent and ditched me outside in the dark. Alone. And threw yourself in and went to sleep. I was left organizing the packs and fending for myself. Twas not what I thought my first year of marriage would be like 😉
But the funniest was on the way back down, in the SNOW (because of course it had to snow that night), when you told me to NOT step on the logs. Yet I did. And very ungracefully landed on my back.
You came to me and asked, “Are you hurt?”
Do you remember what I said, “Nope! But my pride is. And, well, maybe my bum, too.”
We had a good laugh all the way back down. I still laugh today!
11. Stinky Feet Jake. He will always be one of my funniest and favorite memories of ALL times, married. Remember how it started to pour as we were biking through Austria, so we headed high and decided to sleep on top of the wash? Well, low and behold, another biker also got caught in the night. Remember how Stinky Feet Jake only had a kid bike helmet and only rice to eat? No salt. Nothing. So, we invited him to share our meal. And then, because of the rain, we invited him to share our tent.
Do you still SMELL his feet when he took off his shoes and socks? I thought we would die of “stink inhalation” that very night!
And the freakiest part was how he kept talking about the probability of being murdered on a wash in Austria that very night!
I am pretty sure you slept with your hand on your Leatherman.
He was the most interesting creature I have ever met…and I was GLAD when he took off the next day. I do believe, however, it took us WEEKS to get rid of his “stinky feet”!
10. Renting scooters with you in Corfu. Actually, I am going to have to make memories 10 and 9 about Corfu, Greece!
Remember how we got the scooters for $10 for the ENTIRE day! We scooted all over that island, in our bathing suits, stopping at different cliffs to jump off of, beaches to swim at, and then, oops, a Monastery. Good thing they had wraps for people like us…a bit unprepared to enter a sanctuary!
When the rain started, remember how we were stuck on the side of the road when an older Greek gentleman invited us into his garage/apartment for cookies and coffee. He didn’t speak a word of English…We not a word of Greek. But, somehow, over cookies and coffee, no words were really needed.
We waited out the rain and had an absolute blast with our new Greek friend!
9. YOU DANCING IN GREECE! One of my all-time favorite memories of you was when you were called out on the dance floor at the show we were at in Greece!
First of all, you are extremely handsome. But get you in front of an audience in Corfu, Greece, with Greek music playing—and you are not only FINE but QUITE THE ENTERTAINER!
They were showing you and the other participants how to dance with the table in your mouth.
I am going to go out on a limb and say they never suspected you were going to put that table in your mouth and take over the dance floor! You had the crowd going wild.
The hosts for the evening lost control—but you were a hit!
I can still picture you twirling all Big Fat Greek Wedding style on the evening. And you rocked!
Thanks for always being so much fun!
8. Definitely one of my all time favs was swimming 5 months pregnant with the Manta Rays and you! Feeding them was also a hoot. Those Manta Rays would jump up on our legs like little dogs, all hungry and begging for food. Remember how we had the entire place to ourselves because everyone else left to drink. We just swam, and swam, and swam with these beautifully graceful creatures, stroking their slimy backs and in awe of how awesome they really were!
You already know I’m a huge animal lover…and so to be on this journey with you was awesome. I’d swim with them daily if we lived in the Caribbean…Alas, God has planted us in Poland. So, I guess now I’ll just swim with them in my sleep!
7. Of course one of my favorite memories with you has to be on the SAME journey…5 months pregnant. Except this time we’re snorkeling in the crystal blue waters. And, oh, yes. I was stung by a small jellyfish. And yes, I was in pain! But, you…You saw a lighthouse in the distance and insisted on still snorkeling. After all, you were SURE you were going to find treasure!
On top of that, you said, “Stay near the boat! They can help you if you get in trouble!”
And off you swam, leaving your pregnant, snorkeling wife all alone in the same water with the jellyfish that just stung her on the arm.
Again—not exactly what I expected my Prince Charming to do, much like the backpacking adventure. But, I guess that is a huge part of marriage—realizing that fairytale and reality are two different things!
And, forevermore, I have a story to goad you about-leaving your pregnant, jellyfish-stung wife alone so you could go and find treasure. You truly are unique (is that putting it mildly?).
6. Singing a duet with you in church. Was that brave or stupid? And, without a doubt, I know the answer. Stupid! But, with you, I have already done so many crazy things that displaying my very out of tune, tone-deaf voice was just one other thing that I could now cross off of my bucket list of NEVER SHOULD HAVES…How you made it through the duet without laughing your head off, I’ll never know. And how our lovely congregation made it through our song without either running out or busting up, is nothing short of a miracle itself!
Why I did it? Who knows. Put a microphone in my hand and I’ll pretty much do anything.
Wish it was in the era of digital recording because there are some days when I could REALLY use a great belly laugh. And this moment of our marriage was one of the biggest of all times.
So thanks for going all Jesus SNL with me. It probably seemed like a comedy skit—but I, with great intentions, sang my heart out. With you. For Jesus.
I’m not saying I made a joyful noise. It was probably not joyful. And it was definitely noise. But it was grand—because it was with you!
5. Going to the train station with you for the first time to help serve the homeless an evening meal in Poznan, Poland. You handed me the food and tea and said, “Wait outside!” And then you disappeared. Into the train station. With your blue jacket and green beanie cap.
You emerged about 5 minutes later with 100 men and women behind you. All hungry. And all grateful you came.
I was stunned. I knew you loved the other times you had been (I think 3 before I joined you), but now I understood why you went back. Again. And again. And again.
And it was on this very night that I knew…the homeless had captured your heart. And their spirits had captured your soul.
Compassion reigned and Bread of Life began. That was 12 years ago this coming November. 12 years I would NEVER want to go back and erase. 12 years and 3 countries and over 28,000 served annually.
But that night, with your blue jacket and green beanie, will still be one of the most vibrant memories to me. It was that night I saw how you put others before yourself and your heart expanded to include an entirely new family—strangers they were. But family they became!
4. I couldn’t include 13 years of marriage without reminding you of the time you nearly KILLED me in the air. Yes. I was brave, bold, and foolish enough to go up in the air with you, a new pilot, in a little tarp plane. Something that was barely bigger than you and I combined. And I have no affinity towards heights, air, or small planes. Yet, because I was so proud of you, I went. Up. Up. Up. And then you did it to me! You planned my demise. Because you let go of the controllers and you said, “Take over while I tie my shoes!”
I may have perhaps wet my pants a little on that trip (okay, exaggerating—but still).
I, in my very normal Brooke-nature, freaked out and probably called you crazy. Perhaps a few other non-loving things, too.
I think you figured out rather quickly that your joke was not funny. But it is still one of my greatest memories to this day.
Who knows…perhaps because I thought I was going to die.
Perhaps because that is when I actually realized how zany and funny you truly were.
I guess it took thousands of feet in the air with a mere piece of fabric/tarp for me to realize that.
Zany? Funny? Or simply crazy? No matter, it solidified the fact that YOU definitely were the perfect match for me!
Just keep it on the ground from now on.
3. Playing truth or dare with you in the mountains of Austria. Remember that camping trip? It was hilarious—and, although we’d been married for a couple years, we still found out so much about one another.
I think that is all I shall say here, publicly, though!
I do think, however, it was probably one of the first times we were actually vulnerable and honest with one another. Funny how we were already married and yet still did not fully know the other.
Thanks for learning how to share truths with me. I love you, crazy man!
2. When I thought our marriage was over, and was sleeping in the next room, you came in, laid down next to me, and put your arm around my waist. I did not like you at that moment. In fact, it was probably near hatred. And yet, that small gesture let something back into my life. And it was a sliver of light. Very small. And yet it existed. Then and only then I knew, by the grace and forgiveness of God, we could beat this battle of defeat.
And it was a long road full of complete surrender. But we made it to the other side.
So, thank you for that “one last gesture”. It helped keep our marriage alive.
***And the number 1 memory I carry in our 13 years together is this***
1. The night that I and the doctors were sure Maxwell was going to die. I had to call you, because you had JUST left to go and check on Adelyne.
I called you and said, “Richard! Get back here. Quickly! You will NEVER forgive yourself if you are not here when your son passes away.”
And I just PRAYED you would make the hour drive back in time to say goodbye to your son. And I cried the entire time waiting for your return.
You turned the car around and rushed back to the hospital. But, when you walked in, you looked at me and said, “I will say ‘Goodnight!” but I will not say ‘Goodbye!’” And you sat, holding your son’s lifeless hand, praying for him, and crying.
I was so weak and had such little faith at that moment in my life. But you held on. You remained strong.
And Maxwell eventually made it…out of the threshold of death back into life.
You, my Richard, were stalwart!
Thirteen years, Richie. We have many memories. Good, bad, ugly, sad, funny, and full of adventure.
We have them together, you and I, because we chose to say “I do!” and “I do too!” thirteen years ago. And together we still remain.
Crazy. In love. And ready for more adventures together.
I love you, Richard! Thank you for choosing me.