One of my earlier posts is about how I have been blessed with a really good life. That's why I want more of it! But no matter what the quantity ends up being, I can definitely give thanks for the quality of my life. And one of my favorite components of this good life is the man who I call "the great love of my life." My husband, Jared.
Valentine's Day, as usual, was one of romantic delights. Jared took the day off work and spent it with me. We had a romantic lunch date after my radiation treatment, and as we left the cancer center and got into the car so that we could head to lunch, I was surprised by two gifts on my seat. They were two different statues, each depicting a woman holding a child. One child reminded me of our son; one reminded me of our daughter. Symbols of great joys in my life. There was also a Valentine card with some very touching remarks that made me grateful for the Kleenex in our car! After lunch we shopped and played and talked and just enjoyed our time together. We had a romantic family dinner at home that night with our children, and played a family game together, where we spin the bottle and tell that person what we love about them. After dinner the doorbell rang, and three other men showed up. I was ushered into the living room, where a video camera was trained on me. My son sat in my lap, and my husband joined the three men to form a barbershop quartet, serenading me with love songs. It was a huge treat! It was a wonderful day.
The story of the great love of my life is one I love to tell. We were born in different parts of the country (I in Illinois, he in Mississippi), but we both ended up living in Lindon, Utah, attending Pleasant Grove Junior High School. I first knew him in the eighth grade. We were both eighth graders who made it into the ninth grade band. He played the trumpet and other brass (hence, the good pucker) and I played the clarinet. I knew him peripherally at first, and then I got to know him as that nice boy who lived down the hill from me, who would sometimes sneak his parents' car and drive me home from my bus stop. At that time my bus stop was at the bottom of a long, steep, gravel-paved hill, and my house was at the top of it. So I liked getting a ride from this nice guy.
As we moved from junior high into high school, we both became part of the Cloggers West clog dance team (whose claim to fame at the time was "Age Division World Champions"). We both started out on the "farm" team as sophomores, and both got tapped to join THE team our junior year. As members of the same dance team, we became friends. My girlfriends and I loved to hang around him because he was cute and fun and flirty. He would tickle me at the drinking fountain, just to be a flirty kind of guy. He always had what I called a "harem" around him, because he was a chick magnet. But fortunately, he wasn't the tomcat kind.
In the fall of our junior year there was a school dance called the Sweater Swing. It was a girls' choice dance. A friend of mine was going to set him up with a really pretty girl from another town, but there was some kind of mixup and it wasn't going to happen. She felt bad. I decided I'd ask him, since I wanted to go with someone who was a fun friend, and he was definitely good date material. I asked him. He said yes. That was two weeks before the dance, which took place on November 24, 1982.
Within that two-week period, I somehow fell - BOOM - in love with him overnight. He fell - BOOM - in love with another girl. She was cute, smart, talented - everything. I thought there was no way I could compete! Our date ended up being most awkward, because we both knew where our hearts were. But he was still kind of fun to me anyway.
I spent the winter agonizing over whether he would get Miss Perfect out of his system and get me into it. And I started noticing that he and his friends would shoot basketball hoops during lunch. So I suddenly became a huge basketball fan, and would wander their way to shoot hoops with them. (His friends finally told him that - hey - she isn't doing this because she likes basketball!)
A couple of months later, after Miss Perfect was (hooray) no longer in the picture, I invited Jared to play racquetball and eat pizza. We went to the local recreation center, played, and ate pizza on the lawn. It was fun again. My hopes were high. Meanwhile, during all of these months, we continued to dance together in Cloggers West, and spent lots of time on road trips and at performances and stuff, and I always tried to be his dance partner whenever I could.
FINALLY - on May 16, 1983 - Jared caught me during class and asked to speak to me afterward. When the bell rang, he explained that his youth group was going out for a special dinner the next evening, and they were supposed to bring dates. "I kinda need a date," he said. My first thought was, did he want me to BE his date, or did he want me to FIND him a date. To my utter joy, he was indeed asking me to BE his date! I said YESSSSSSSSSS! and begged my mom for permission to go. She said yes.
So on May 17, 1983 (a day, which, by the way, he still remembers as a special anniversary), I sat through my AP History exam at school and failed it miserably. I had "Jared Jared Jared" on the brain, anticipating our date that evening. We went to a nice restaurant in Salt Lake City with his youth group, and we had a great time together, talking about anything and everything and nothing. After our date, he took me home, walked me to the door, and gave me a little kiss. A little kiss that made a big impact. I was hooked for sure, and have been ever since. With a couple of temporary exceptions, we have been an item since then.
We were still an item when Jared received a mission call to serve our church in Tokyo, Japan. I wrote him for two years and finished college and kept a shrine to him in my student housing apartment. I was so proud of him for serving as he did, but I was also one happy girl when he finally came back home. Five months after he returned home, and one week after my college graduation, we were married. August 20, 1988. 10:40 a.m. Salt Lake Temple. Signed, sealed, and delivered. For - evvvvvv - er.
We had a fairy tale reception in Salt Lake City, with throngs of family and friends wishing us well. We spent our wedding night at the Doubletree Inn, and then honeymooned in Star Valley, Wyoming. It was a dream come true. We settled in an apartment in Provo, Utah, and moved briefly to Orem, Utah. Before our first anniversary we had an opportunity to move to Texas. We lived in The Woodlands (close to Houston) for six years, then moved to the Dallas area.
Seventeen plus years later, and after plowing through the ups and downs of life (including employment changes, heartbreaking infertility and pregnancy loss, professional successes, two joyful adoptions, buying the dream house, and now...cancer), we remain best friends who are also madly in love with each other. It is the most satisfying relationship I could have ever possibly imagined. If there is such a thing as a soul mate, Jared is mine. I am his. We still talk about anything and everything and nothing, and I just feel our hearts knitting together as one. We still dance together, and I always remember those days of yearning to be his dance partner. They say to be careful what you wish for, but this time I got exactly what I wished for. My Jared. It was even more wonderful than I thought it could be.
I am so grateful that he is here for me now. He does so much for our family. He helps me so much, and does it with so much grace, despite the weight of this burden he is bearing. My parents are grateful that he is here for me. They have both expressed that gratitude. Our children are grateful that he is their daddy. He is not only the best husband I could have, but he is also the best father for our children. He is awesome. I love him dearly and hope that a miracle will keep us together as long as possible here in this lifetime. I am grateful to know that regardless of what the future brings, we know that our marriage is designed to last far beyond "'til death do us part."