Sweet Sixteen

The story of how we met seems to surprise people. Since my husband and I have known each other since we were sixteen, most people assume we went to high school together. When I share that the first time we saw each other we were in the Newark Airport it tends to get a look of confusion and intrigue. Not the most glamorous of places, but so fitting for the many rags to riches sort of stories we have been faced with over the course of our partnership.

The run down airport was also the place my husband wanted to propose, years later, but my refusal to join him to pick up his brother, a total front, to allow them some quality time together, ruined it. Side bar: we have several stories of adversity, most of them relating to my own hesitations, so now as I write this it seems right on target.

As sweet sixteen year olds we were fortunate enough to be spending three weeks of our summer vacation traveling around Scandinavia as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program. The many months leading up to this adventure were filled with meetings and assignments to complete in order to learn about the culture of the places we would be visiting. Given sports obligations and other commitments, also adding in the fact that the meeting destination was quite a hike from my north jersey cow country where I lived, the amount of meetings I actually attended were less than advisable. My hubby had the same story, causing us to miss meeting at everyone of the opportunities presented before the Newark Airport.

So, we find ourselves saying goodbye to our families at the gate and, long story short, spending the next three weeks pretty much inseparable by the time we landed in London. It was an incredible trip, even more so when you are sixteen and have an insane amount of freedom in a foreign country. We lived with homestay families in Denmark, went on cruises through the fjords and hiked Norway,  toured the places of Sweden and checked out the legendary fish-n-chips in the pubs of London. It was magical and set in motion a desire to travel in this small town Jersey girl. It was the catalyst for my soul to explore and enjoy. It made me desire more.

I had no idea that those three weeks would shape my life in other ways. My now husband and I stayed friends over the next year or so of high school. He came to see me perform in my schools plays and we met at Pizza Hut or the movies on occasion. It took us awhile to work out the kinks and get together, a long list of plot twist in our storyline, which I will save for another day. But all in all, we did end up together and I thank God for that everyday.

Fast forward to now. 2020. The year that has left us all scratching our heads and holding our tender hearts in our hands. After the COVID-19 take over, quarantining, my job losses, navigating the waters of our family dynamic and several mental health issues for our children, my husband also then deploys. Half way around the world we are once again sweet sixteen. Sixteen years married, missing his sweet face and wise words of encouragement, his ability to ground me like no one else has ever been able.

When our third daughter was born, in 2009, he upgraded my engagement ring. He was so thrilled with the final product that he couldn’t wait until our anniversary in August and instead gave it to me in May. I literally gave the final push to birth our child, he cut the cord and then almost immediately pulled the ring from his pocket. Never a more fitting use for the phrase “push present.” The ring was stunning, still is. After some time passed I joked to him that we have had a stellar engagement but with the upgrade I lost the wedding band portion and therefore we were not actually married.

This anniversary, half way around the world, we were married again. Before he left for his deployment he had taken a few trips from the house on the premise that he was working on something for our anniversary. Time after time he came home frustrated, saying how he couldn’t get it to work. After awhile he stopped mentioning it and, if I’m being honest, I forgot about his secret mission. Must to my surprise, he didn’t forget or give up. With he help of one of my dearest longtime friends he very much persisted. He coordinated every step, so well thought through and meticulously planned, resolving in me receiving a wedding band made to fit my ring perfectly.

This wedding band was hand delivered by my the friend who had been holding this secret for months, complete with a video of my husband explaining the additional significance of this project.

All those years ago, while the two of us were hiking in Norway, he had collected some  rocks. He told me he had saved them in a bag and tucked away with the intent to make something with them in the future. During our second round of Marie Kondo-ing, thank you COVID, he found the bag and knew it was the perfect time to make them into something incredible. After a handful of jewelers had turned him away, the rock being too brittle to cut, let alone use in a piece of jewelry, he found one willing to take the challenge.

The result is breathtaking and could not have been more romantic. The stone is Moldavite, which is known to be a spiritual catalyst that helps with intense and rapid spiritual transformation, evolution and healing. The affirmation tied to this stone reads, “I am ready to walk my true path in life.”  After all the turmoil, trials and tribulations we have been through as partners over the last 16 years, I can stay with certainty there is no truer path than the one we have build together. I am not only ready but excited and waiting to continue walking, hand and hand, upon his safe return.

Happy Anniversary, Alex. You are my one and only. The literal grounding force for my every fleeting hummingbird spirit. This rock from the soil that I now wear each day as a infinite symbol of our commitment, solidifies just that.

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