Next week is September.
Know what happens in September?
It’s my baptism anniversary, and it will be five years since I was baptized.
And then in October?
It will be our second anniversary.
Do you know what has happened to us in two years?
We got married in October, and then Nathan had to fly back to New York because he didn’t even live in Oklahoma yet! Then I had a miscarriage, and he got caught in hurricane Sandy. When he moved home in time for Christmas, he was laid off, we did my father’s temple work, and then my mom was killed a week later. Then we had another miscarriage. We had another miscarriage on my first Mother’s Day without my mom, endured fertility testing all summer, and got our first foster child on Nathan’s birthday. We got Five the week we finally buried my mother, and the toddler three weeks later. Thirty foster kids came and went, and we usually had five to seven at a time.
That was all in our first year of marriage.
I responded to the death of my mother by going back to school for a post-doc in Hebrew studies, and have done that while still on my church service mission. We had two more miscarriages after that (because we are really bad at math). In November last year we were prompted to move to Bartlesville, and nine weeks later, by the first week of January, we had already bought this new house and moved and rented the Owasso house. We had three foster kids in a row that tried to kill us or one of the other children (we couldn’t talk about it at the time), and had to be removed and hospitalized. This caused their siblings to also get moved, which caused an unusually high turnover rate of new foster kids coming and going in our home. Our oldest foster child turned 18, so we furnished her apartment and got her moved, and almost have her green card to make her legal so she can go to college. In the Spring, we were offered a newborn for adoption from a birth mother who changed her mind, and then before we could be upset got a meth baby preemie to foster, just in time for one last miscarriage. That’s when they found my cancer, and took away our three month old baby. In July, I had a full hysterectomy and we were released from any more miscarriages. That’s how I lost another baby, had one taken, and was told I would not have any more babies, all in one week. Our first two foster babies are still here, allegedly in the process of being adopted.
That was our second year of marriage.
It has been intense.
Our sealing counsel warned us that it would be, though, so we know the purpose it serves. We hold on tightly to each other the way you do before a roller coaster starts, and we laugh because any adventure is worth having finally found each other in mortality.
That’s how we are happy, despite our circumstances, because we see the bigger picture.
And because our love is really big, too.
And we keep growing it by focusing on how we can serve the other, and giving it all we have.
Life has never been so hard.
But I have never been so happy.
That’s why I don’t want to miss our anniversary. It’s in six weeks. I don’t know if that weekend will find me well, or sick, or doing okay but exhausted from trying to be back at work.
So, just to be sure, I made Nathan’s present tonight. It’s an art installation, New York style, right in our bedroom. Or maybe it’s just a bunch of photos tacked to the wall like high school, but I am pretending.
I made him our story!
We already had a few pictures up, like at the yellow house, of the temple and our New York engagement trip, but now our story goes out from there, parallel on both sides, telling our story!
I added pictures of our Israel trip, and our trip to our very own Connecticut beach, Nathan playing violin, me doing Hebrew, funny memories, a chicken party picture, Passover, kites, and Five’s first Sunday (he had Spider-Man in his pocket), and the toddler’s first night (when I gave her the bear she still sleeps with at night), our homemade holiday things, me doing summer school with the kids, and all kinds of good memories.
I want our story to be there for Nathan to see every day.
I want our story to be there for the children to learn, and love, and grow into – become a part of, as they are grafted in to our family.
I want all of them to remember that life is good, and living is an amazing adventure, no matter how hard it gets sometimes.
And it’s not finished.
Because this is not the end.
It’s just the beginning.