Two years ago today, I had the immense privilege of marrying the love of my life. Two years ago today, I stood face to face with my best friend as we joined our lives together in front of our families, and our friends. Two years ago today was the beginning of the rest of our lives; or so we thought.
When my friend and co-worker, David, told me that he had someone that he wanted to introduce me to, I was excited. I had never been on a so-called "blind date" before, so the thought was slightly terrifying. However, I agreed that if he didn't tell this person that it was a set-up, that I would agree to come to his Bible study and meet this mystery man. And I did. Upon first impression, I did not think that Dan was someone that I could see myself with. He was shy, quiet, and seemed completely NOT interested in me whatsoever. I left the Bible study that evening not knowing if I would ever go back. It wasn't until the Friday that followed where I felt the spark.
My girlfriend and I were attending a country concert at the Santa Barbara County Fair, and there he was, cowboy hat and all. I followed him, yes followed him, to the men's restroom, and acted very surprised when we "ran into" each other as he was exiting. We exchanged numbers then, and made plans to get together after the concert. From that point on, I was hooked. We spent nearly every single day together following our "chance encounter" at the concert. Seven months into our relationship, Dan was deployed to Iraq. My best friend was leaving me for seven long months, and I was devastated. And to make things even worse, three months into his deployment, I was diagnosed with cancer. Not having Dan around during what I thought would be the most difficult time in my life seemed impossible. But he made every ounce of effort to be there for me as best he could. He talked me thru every single chemo session, sent me encouraging emails and Bible verses, and never failed to tell me how much he loved me and how special I was to him. He was my rock, even from thousands of miles away.
His homecoming in September was amazing. It was so nice to have him home with me. Everything felt right with the world again. I had the love of my life back, and I was ready to take that next step. A few months passed by, and we fell back into our dating routine, and it felt so right, so perfect. We agreed not to exchange Christmas gifts with each other because we had spent quite a bit of money visiting his family after his return. So when he handed me a large wrapped box on Christmas eve, I was bewildered. As I opened the large box, there it was. A small, perfect velvet box taped to the bottom. And in front of my entire family, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Overcome with emotion, I found a way to say "YES" thru the sobbing and shaking. I was engaged to be married to the best man I had ever met. I was ecstatic.
We knew we wanted a quick engagement. I had spent seventeen months dating this man; I was ready to be married. We planned our wedding for June 5th 2010, and the planning frenzy began. I, being slightly OCD, took charge of every minute detail. Dan, bless his heart, tried to help where he could. We often found ourselves arguing over the littlest details such as ribbon color and the flavor of our wedding cake. But, it was all in good fun. The five months flew by, and June was here before we knew it.
Our family had come from all over to be with us on our special day; Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Washington, Florida. The two days before the wedding were a complete blur; last minute details, meetings with the event planner, dinner with the families. Looking back now, I wish I would have taken the time to truly embrace those few days. To enjoy the petty arguments about music. To enjoy the hustle and bustle of family dinners. To enjoy my last night in my parent house. To enjoy the nerves that came with the entire experience.
My alarm went off bright on early on the big day. I woke up to my sister lying next to me, and my girlfriends sleeping in the adjoining room. I was so relaxed, so at peace, and SO ready to marry my man. The morning was just as I planned. Breakfast, champagne, and all my favorite girls with me to help me get ready. I felt so beautiful, just as every bride should on their wedding day. My nerves were growing with each passing minute. Minutes felt like hours, and hours felt like days. Waiting to walk down the aisle seemed to take an eternity, but the time had come. With my arm wrapped tightly around that of my fathers, I began to walk down the aisle. His handsome face is all that I could see. The lights, the music, the people, all seemed to fade into the background. He looked so wonderful. His slight smile put me at ease instantly. Finally, we were face to face, hand in hand. We were both so nervous. Our palms were sweaty, and our voices shaky. I distinctly remember him rubbing my hands with his thumbs throughout the entire ceremony. The ceremony went perfectly as planned, and we were husband and wife. I was Mrs. Daniel Johnson.
The reception was a blast. We danced, we drank, we laughed with family and friends. I was literally on cloud nine. During our first dance as man and wife, I felt as if I was floating. Everyone in the ballroom disappeared, and it was just me and him. As the night went on, bouquets were tossed, cake was smashed, and memories were made. Memories that to this day, are as vivid as if it happened just yesterday.
"They" always say that your wedding day should be the happiest day of your life, and for us, it truly was. I was so extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to know perfect love, if even for a brief time. Dan was truly my partner. He was my equal, and my best friend. The memory of our wedding day is bittersweet. Today, I will look back at photos and videos and I will smile. And I will also cry. We should be celebrating tonight with flowers, dinner and each others company. Instead, I will go to the cemetery and visit my Daniel there. I will take him flowers, lay on the grass, and daydream of our perfect day.
To my Daniel, thank you for the best four months of marriage that anyone could ask for. Our time as Husband and Wife was brief, but so full of love, life and laughter. Being your wife will forever be my greatest honor. I will love you, Forever and Always. -Your Wife. xoxo