Today is my wedding anniversary. 26 years ago I walked into the Los Angeles Temple as a single woman and walked out sealed to my eternal companion. Together we have built a life that includes 10 children and on daughter-in-law.
26 years ago I was completely clueless. I was totally in love and excited to start my life with a wonderful man, but I really had no idea what that meant. I really didn't even understand what love meant. I had a romantic notion of love, that life would always be filled with rainbows and chocolate. Don't get me wrong, my life has been filled with enormous happiness and I feel so blessed, but along the way there have been trials and stresses.
We have had sick newborns that had to stay in the NICU, my husband has had skin cancer, we've lost family members to death, we've cared for aging grandparents, we've had extended family members make decisions that have put their eternal salvation at risk, and we have a child with special needs. Through it all I have learned more and more what deep, abiding love is and I can honestly say I love my husband more and in a deeper, more mature way than I ever thought possible 26 years ago.
In 1998 we moved my maternal grandparents who had rasied me to a mobile home on our property so my sister and her family and I with my family could care for them. My grandfather passed away shortly afterward, but Grandma lived for two more years. One day in July of 2000 I took her to Walmart to shop. We had separated to do our shopping and when I was done she was nowhere to be found. She'd had a massive stroke while standing in line and had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance. She stayed in the hospital for a few dyas but had lost her ability to speak, to swallow, to eat, etc. We decided to take her home and allow her to die in her own home, surrounded by her family and beloved cat. Both my sister and I were pregnant at the time and my brother-in-law had had neck surgery. Since my grandma required 24 hour care we took turns as best we could. My husband stayed with her each night. He talked to her, gave her drops of water to soothe her cracked lips, rolled her from side to side to avoid bedsores, and even changed her diaper. I watched him serve her diligently each night until her death. He never complained, her never tried to avoid it, he simply served her. While he did this, my love for him deepened so much.
When our youngest son was born and were were told he had Down syndrome, my husband never even batted an eye. While I worried about how to care for my new son and the rest of my kids and what my son's life wowld be like, my husband quietly served both me and my son and stayed steady as a rock. He never worried. It didn't matter to him that our son has an extra chromosome. He supported me and helped me see that all would be well.
Through the years, my husband has never pointed out my weaknesses. He's never nagged me to change one way or another. He's never belittled me or made me feel inferior. He has always praised me, even when I didn't deserve it. He has always seen the woman I can become and has never been frustrated with the imperfect woman I still am. He has seen me at my worst and at my lowest points and he has always loved me through them.
Today, I celebrate the best and wisest decision I have ever made. My husband makes me a better person, he motivates me to live better, to be more like my Savior, to forgive, and to see the best in others. Today I understand more of what I only had a glimpse of 26 years ago. I will be eternally grateful that my Heavenly Father allowed me to find such a man and I am honored to be his wife.