I stumbled upon an online photo album from the night we got engaged.
And there were forty seven photos of the ring that had just been placed on my finger.
I would have laughed if I weren't so ashamed of myself. After eight years of marriage I know that the size, the clarity, the cut, the brand of the ring I wear on my finger doesn't matter at all.
At the time of our engagement I had not even a clue what marriage was about. I wanted a dream wedding. I wanted the big gown. I wanted everyone oohing and ahhing over me and the gorgeous man I was marrying. I hate to admit it. But it's true. And I think there are a lot of women out there like me. So I try not to beat myself up too much about how obsessed I became over every minor detail of the wedding. For I know it happens to so many women who are waiting. But when the day comes and we finally do have a ring on our finger we often overlook the whole becoming a wife thing. And focus only on becoming a bride.
I loved Naaman then and I love him now. But that love is vastly different than on the day he proposed in 2005. Like a newly planted tree the roots are thin, weak and vulnerable. But as years pass the roots grow deep into the soil providing strength for the tree above to weather any storm.
Instead of forty seven photos there should have been forty seven prayers said together. Forty seven discussions on our future, on kids, on finances, on careers. Instead of late nights spent researching honeymoons there should have been forty seven late nights talking about what we would do if, God forbid, very bad things happen. Forty seven questions including the big scary ones - can you really love me at my worst when you don't know what my worst looks like?
Now that I know we can love each other like that. Through death and life and birth and loss and pain and tears and disagreements and broken dreams and broken hearts. And still feel grateful the next morning to wake up next to each other. Now that I know all that?
I wish I could go back.
I wish I could go back and tell you - I would marry you without a ring. I would marry you in front of a judge with no one else there. I would run away with you and marry you without a moment's hesitation. I would marry you without the dream wedding. Without the big gown. Without anyone telling me how beautiful I am - except you.
Am I glad we danced the night away with friends and family who love us and shared in witnessing our vows of forever? Of course. I feel blessed that we had the beautiful day that we did and so many came to see us start our lives together.
Am I glad that you gave me the ring I've been wearing for eight years? Of course. But I wanted you to know today, on our anniversary, you're worth so much more to me than anything that could be purchased.
I guess I just had to go through the last eight years by your side, sifting through both the ashes of our past and the beauty of our future, to learn that I never needed a ring on my finger in the first place. And I'm sorry if I ever made you feel that the ring and the wedding were more important than the marriage that would follow.
Just know that I will wear this ring every day for the rest of my life. I will wear it to remind me of how far we've come and how much we've learned. I will wear it on our 47th anniversary and I'll ask our children to take forty seven photos of the life we built together.
Because those are the photos that matter.
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