Time is a terrible accountant. It writes down things that aren’t true and often makes us feel worse than we should. Love is far better at telling the story of our lives. And today is an occasion for opening that book of love and reminiscing. Because today is your birthday. A milestone by any estimation. You have survived and lived another day. A celebration is in order. Your life isn’t defined by mine, but we have shared nearly thirty years of this life together. We have watched each other grow, change and reemerge from the front row seat of our marriage. Marriage is a wonderful and mysterious relationship that no one fully understands nor has yet mastered. Those who say otherwise are lying. We are flawed, fragile creatures navigating waves without much experience at sailing. And at times storms blow us off course. But I hope you find comfort in the fact that I’ve not abandoned our boat. I wish that I could say that I have perfectly fulfilled all of your desires and dreams that you held so closely in your heart all those years ago, walking down the aisle escorted by your Father’s loving arm. But we both know that I haven’t. We have disappointed each other more times than either of us can count. And I’m glad we don’t. One of your beautiful qualities is that you are quick to forgive, eager to love, and always ready to move forward.
On this day of your birth, I want to celebrate you. I want to celebrate all of the moments you have lived. All of the memories, the bits and pieces, the good and bad, the happy and the sad, because all of them serve to remind me, and all of us who love you, of who you are and who you are becoming. I hope this brings as much joy to your heart as it brings to mine. We have discovered together that happiness is fleeting, but joy is perennial, returning season after season to flourish in the rich soil that is our lives. I hope that in the few moments we have today to celebrate that you can smell the beautiful fragrance of the flowers that grow so beautifully as a result of your life.
Haden lives, loves, and serves because of the investment you have made in him. He heard you sing before he emerged from your womb, and quickly picked up your talent for instrument, voice, and song. He worships God and leads others to do the same, in no small part due to your influence in his life. Soon Erin followed to complete your family trio, harmonizing beautifully, and perfectly on pitch. Erin is a picture of your beauty and your heart for others and all of God’s creatures. Her desire to serve others with intention and excellence is modeled after your example, and is easy to see in her work ethic, tenaciously making sure that all is right for those whom she loves.
I recently read a book about this pensive teenager full of angst wandering aimlessly about New York City for an entire weekend in an effort to escape all his troubles. Unlike that teenager, neither of us are young, although we aren’t quite old, and only one of us is pensive enough to be filled with existential angst. But the book did have some moments that caused me to reflect about you, and our life together. The young man in the book stopped in at a museum and made this profound observation, “Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that’s impossible, but it’s too bad anyway.” If I could stop time for you I would. But the difficulty is that I’m not sure when I would stop time? To preserve your youth would certainly be a temptation. But youth without wisdom is a waste. I suppose I would be tempted to preserve the moment that we said “I do!” But that moment as beautiful as it was isn’t really representative of our life. Romantic? Yes! Authentic? Perhaps. But awkward and naïve isn’t necessarily the moment we might like under glass for eternity. The moments you held our children for the first time? Certainly, worth preserving and, in a way, time did stand still. So, you see the difficulty? So many moments worthy of preserving, I think I’ll I’d just preserve this one.
But I can’t. So, I’ll treasure the life we have lived and continue to live together. And let time, rather, let’s let love continue to tell our story. And to quote the only line from our marriage vows that I can remember with certainty, “The angels will ring their bells, when time has told what time will tell.”
Happy Birthday Candy. I love you.