On March 12, 2011, like 30-40 minutes after the scheduled time, I walked down the aisle to Brad Paisley's "She's Everything" a little too fast, with both my parents in tow, towards a slightly skinny man with a huge heart, to whom I now say "I do" over and over and over again, even when it's hard.
Every year since then (I know, it's been so many years, right?) we say our vows again to each other. I decided to do a little somethin' different. See, a lot can happen in four years, and things change. I know Ben a lot better than I knew him when we wed... but I also know myself a lot better, too.
2011 was a tumultuous year. Just five months after our wedding, I got fired from my job from pretty much the worst company on the planet. That was a really tough time for me, and if you know me now, at all, you know I've grown more from that single experience than I ever thought imaginable. Rising from ashes to building several successful online businesses that will support us when we go abroad this summer was no easy task. But that's 'cause I didn't have to do it alone.
Porkchop was there.
Those who know me best know that my husband's name is unofficially "Porkchop". He likes it that way, too. Even his Instagram username is porkchophusband. It just fits, I dunno. I've always thought that nickname was cute ever since that Nickelodeon show Doug back in the '90s -- Doug's dog was named Porkchop, and who gives a sh*t about blue-faced Scooter, Porkchop was his best friend.
Porkchop was there when I could barely get out of bed in the morning because words hurt, and so many words that had been said to me by my former bosses burned like hot lava. He saw the best in me, even when they didn't.
Porkchop saw the best in me when I thought no one would want me to teach them how to proofread for court reporters. Porkchop encouraged me to write my first eBook and start my website. Porkchop is who I give the credit to when people ask me how I came up with the idea for my online course. Without him and his constant, gentle flow of encouragement, I'd probably still be working at that hell hole of a job I was in four years ago, and nothing we've created together in the last six months would have ever come to fruition.
Porkchop has been there for every crazy idea I've had, including the one to spend $6000 on personal training school after losing my job. The one to get a second cat. And the one to quit living a regular life and go to South America for a year.
Yes, Porkchop was there. And he'll always be here, I know it. Even though I hardly ever put on makeup (geez, yesterday I don't think I even brushed my teeth...sorry.), and even though it sometimes takes an act of Congress to get me to do something other than work. "You created this monster," I chide, jokingly. He did, though. He somehow got me to stop watching Netflix in my free time and start sharing my gifts with people who need them.
So... why am I writing all this? Well, this year, instead of just reciting our vows like we've done on our past anniversaries (all three of them) and storing them away for next year, I decided to revisit the digital version on my computer -- which I hadn't opened since I printed them out for the ceremony.
I revisited it because on the digital version, I can make changes.
I want to make changes. More so, I want to add to them. I was a much, much different person then than I am now, and I have a lot more things I want to promise Porkchop than to just love and respect him (blah, blah, blah, amiright?!)
So here we go. My (re)new(ed) vows for the man I love.
I still can’t believe I fell in love with my best friend. All the searching, all the heartache, all the mistakes, and I was looking for you all along. I lose you sometimes, in my haste and confusion, but I always find you again, because you always stop and wait for me. Even when it's hard, I still can’t picture living life without you. You are the still kindest, most patient, hardworking man I have ever met, and I love and admire you more than anyone else.
Thank you for always being true to who you are, even when that means you have to change. And thank you for accepting me and loving me for all that I am and all that I have been, for being my soft place to fall, and for always being there when I need you.
…that for the rest of my life, I will always be honest. I will encourage you, and try really hard to put your needs above my own, even when I don’t want to. I promise to still love you and respect you, even when you’re sick, and whether we have a lot, or just a little. And even when it feels like we’ve got nothing at all, I will remind you that that’s not true. I promise to always be your very best friend, and I will never leave you…
I promise you my whole heart, for my whole life, and I am so honored that I am still your wife after four crazy years.
I love you. Still.
Here's to Year No. 5, Porkchop, and here's to countless more adventures together. I am so glad I woke up and realized how short life was. And I'm even more glad I woke up next to you.