May 23, 2021
Dear Darkened Rose,
I wanted to make sure to take the time to share some wedding photos with you. I guess while doing so, I will also explain how proud of and contented I am with the marriage that Caleb and I have.
Admittedly, the early years of our relationship were labored with some tough lessons and heated conversations on both of our ends. It took me a few years of bouncing off the walls in my own head to recognize how much I truly appreciated having the stability of a partner who is as respectful, stoic, and intelligent as he is. I struggled to recognize the simple ways that he expresses love and often fought too hard to try to force him to show it in ways that he was not naturally inclined (texting every hour of the day really isn’t a reasonable request, and I see that now).
Having learned to recognize all the various ways that he does express his love—i.e. improtu ditties with me as the subject; bear hugs so tight that my internal organs struggle to work for a brief second; knowing my Chipotle and customized Mod Pizza orders by heart; continually developing a jargon for us (that only a few others, like Janie and Brandon, might understand at times); etc. I now believe I have never experienced a love as deep and unwavering as his is. It is one that is worth continual development—one certainly worth growing old with.
Caleb often spouts many different ideas about what his future will look like when he grows old.
A few years into our relationship, something distinctly changed with my mindset when looking back on one of our earliest conversations. When reflecting, I see that at that time I was cornered into having to answer a question that I had neglected for many years. What type of life will I live in my older age?
In this one memorable conversation, I remember nihilistically asking Caleb something along the lines of, “Honestly, what makes you so motivated to grow old?” To which he responded with something relatively lame like, “It’s rare to get to exist and experience life. How odd is it that the universe put these elements together to create me? Why would I not fully appreciate that if I can and for as long as I can?”
Or even more simply put—I’m going to live my life because I have one.
He was so straightforward and optimistic, and I initially shirked thinking about the simple philosophical notion he was putting forward. I spent so much of my 20s questioning whether or not I liked my life, that I neglected to just recognize that I am continuously living one, regardless. I know I sound ridiculous, but before meeting Caleb I had really stopped envisioning growing old. Part of my mind was convinced I would probably die around the age that you did. Which, I do not think that is as odd of a mindset as it may read to the average person. On more than one occasion, I have read it in stories and heard it shared from other people who have lost a parent (or an older friend or sibling) at a relatively early age. After you died, my life’s timeline appeared shorter than it ever did before.
Rising above this and envisioning a more concrete future took the work of creating a life that I could be proud of living. Caleb has always done well with setting the example for me there, and that has guided us into the fruitful situation we now find ourselves in. We are both securely in a place where we are looking forward to experiencing life together with ideas and support in place for our future.
I wanted to share our vows with you, as I felt that they concisely summed up where we both stand today.
Whew … we made it!
Today, I take your hand delighted in the opportunity to discover what more the future holds with you by my side. We have already experienced and accomplished considerable pursuits together, and I am grateful to continue on our path as husband and wife. May trials and tribulations of the past and future only continue to build this loving relationship that is humble, malleable, and enduring. You are truly, and quite perfectly, my “better half.” As we take this step forward, I vow the following.
- To raise a child with you as a shining example of great parents.
- To expose our family to as much nature, culture, and firsthand experience as the universe allows for.
- To maintain a practice of good physical and mental health for our family.
- To love & appreciate all of your noble traits that I don’t have and need you for.
- To be mindful and proud of whatever legacy our marriage allows us to leave behind.
In the past seven years, I have learned to recognize the person that you most enjoy being—a man I am ceaselessly proud to have as my life partner. I know that you carry a clear understanding of how to effectively balance a sense of justice, esteem, goofiness, and a refreshing and endearing energy for storytelling. I’m convinced everyone needs a figure like you in their life. You nourish my intelligence and challenge me to think critically, and therefore I trust that you will always guide me towards being a wiser version of myself. You have created space for me to hone my self-pride, and I hope to show my gratitude by providing the same for you in our future together. Today, I vow the following:
- To always search for ways to explore beyond any personal frustrations in order to always find peace in our relationship.
- To try (operative word here) to scratch your back at least three nights a week forever.
- To strive to recognize your most honest intentions in each moment to be respectful of the greatest version of yourself.
- To be an honorable caregiver of the family we establish (all animals included).
- To assure you, through my love, that belonging to our family is my highest priority.
I am now at a loss for words here at the end of this, but my main reason for writing was to be able to share these picture with you. So without much more to say—
I love you. I miss you.
Enclosed are cool things.
The Song: Die Young by Sylvan Esso