A New Life
April 20, 2001, had finally arrived. Tommy and I had been anxiously awaiting this day for months. We had been corresponding through "snail mail", and yes, I still have every letter. A few days before our wedding, my groom to be wrote me one last letter. I have it in a plastic cover to preserve it, it was so sweet. I won't post it in its entirety, but I will post some excerpts....
"Dear Cassandra, I thought I would write one last time before we are married. I just can't explain the excitement right now that I feel knowing that in three days you will be my wife."
"I know it is going to be the greatest thrill of my life when I see you come walking down the aisle. Just seeing you walk into a room is thrill enough, but when you come walking down the aisle this time it's going to be so much more of a thrill because I know that a few moments after I take your hand, that God will be joining us together as man and wife. I have tried imagining so many times watching you walk down the aisle. I just can't imagine anything more beautiful."
"Not only am I excited about the wedding day, I am just as excited about everyday after that. Just everyday knowing that I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world will make everyday a happy day."
"I will end by saying I love you with all my heart and more."
I wasn't really nervous on my wedding day. The only thing that had me concerned was the kiss. THE kiss. The one right after we were pronounced husband and wife, and the kiss that hadn't happened yet. We had no practice. We wanted our first kiss to be after we were married. In front of 250 guests. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about that. I shouldn't have been. My new husband was fearless. In fact, when he went to kiss me, he was so enthusiastic he almost knocked down the microphone stand behind us! In the picture of our first kiss, this is the reason my maid of honor and sister, Sarah, was laughing.
My wedding day went by in a blur, but I enjoyed my day immensely. I had no doubt that this was the right choice. I would choose him all over again if I had to. Has every day been rosy? Absolutely not. Living with another imperfect human being will always have its challenges. But it's been worth it. It was also worth the wait. We were both pure, and we had waited for each other. As we looked at each other and said our vows, it was with a confident voice filled with love.
"I, Cassandra take thee, Tommy, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward,"
Has it always been easy? No. But I knew from the moment that I agreed to be his wife that I would be saying my vows knowing that they were until death do us part. We have never once uttered the "d" word (divorce) in 17 years of marriage. It's not an option for us.
"for better, for worse"
There has been a lot of 'better', and a lot of 'worse'. Some days we just need to keep our distance from each other. And then other days, I feel lost in the love I have for him. Some days I feel on top of the world, and like our marriage is the best in the entire world, and that, yeah, I have this thing together. Other days I feel like a newlywed- and I have no clue what I am doing. I would say that the 'better' in our marriage has far outweighed the 'worse', though. We have had 10 times the better moments, than the worse moments.
"for richer, for poorer,"
Our life has mostly consisted of "poorer" moments, haha. See, when we got married, we decided we wanted children. Lots of children. Children take a lot of money. My husband has worked hard to provide for us, and we have never wanted. But we have also never been rich. Life is a struggle. We make ends meet, but it's always by the grace of God that we aren't late on any of our bills. He has always provided. I have always said, "I would rather have children than money." And so that is my life. And I wouldn't want it any other way. Nine months to the day that we were married, January 20, 2002, God blessed us with our first child, and he is still blessing us. I am currently pregnant with child number 7. I love my big family.
"in sickness and in health,"
Our marriage has also seen a lot of sickness, and a lot of health. The last 17 years have seen me going through six pregnancies, (and now number 7) three miscarriages, two of which were very traumatic, surgery for both of us, a Hepatitis C diagnosis for both me and my oldest son, (I contracted it through my mom at birth) treatment and being cured of said Hepatitis C, stitches for a couple children, a child breaking a wrist, and many other viruses and illnesses. My faithful husband took it all in stride. Those vows are there for a reason. No matter what sickness I will ever face, I know that we will be by each other's side.
"to love and to cherish, honor, and obey,"
I have tried my best to live up to this vow, and where I have at times succeeded, I have at other times failed. Thankfully, we are both in this for the long haul, so we get up, dust ourselves off when we fail, and keep trying. Anything in life that's good is not easy. And a good marriage is great- but it doesn't get that way overnight. We have grown up so much since walking down the aisle. We were both only 20- just babies, really. We grew up together. Our first five years were the toughest. We are both the firstborns- and I have a stubborn, strong will by nature. It's been hard to tame. I am much better now than I was at 20, but it's only because I am also determined to win at this thing called marriage. I want to have a good marriage, and much of that rests on me. My husband needs my respect and honor, and I need his love. We both have to work on that. When I respect him and honor him, it's much easier for him to love me the way he is supposed to. Most men just want a happy wife, a happy home to come home to, and happy children. Ladies, we hold the key to that happiness. You have much power and influence over your husband, whether you want to acknowledge that or not. Use it wisely.
"till death do us part,"
I have never wavered in this vow. Marriage is for life. No exceptions. We want to raise good children. So our marriage is for life. We want to be happy. So our marriage is for life. We want to honor God. So our marriage is for life. Don't ever go into marriage thinking you can get out of it if it fails. Marriage is for life. Period.
"according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith."
When we said our vows, it wasn't just for our witnesses. It was before God. Marriage is sacred, and we took it seriously. Have we arrived? Do we have the perfect marriage? No. We are two imperfect human beings. But we serve a perfect God, and he is still working through us.
My wedding day was about as perfect as it could get. And when we walked away together, with bubbles being blown all around us, I thought I was as happy as I ever could be. I was wrong. I fall in love more deeply with my husband as every year passes. Every time that I have had one of our babies placed on my chest for the first time, I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life. I didn't know it was possible to love him so deeply, and to love each and every child that the Lord gives us so deeply. People can't still believe that we are having children, 17 years after being married. Well, I love my children so deeply, why wouldn't I have more? Don't you want more of a good thing? I am just honored that God would continue to open my womb.
We were finally alone for the first time when we drove out of the parking lot after our reception. It was surreal. No more pesky sisters, no more "spies" watching our every move. We were alone, and free to finally express our love through physical affection. Anyone who says you need to sleep around and "make sure they are good in bed" before you marry them is a fool. The best way to have a good physical relationship in marriage is to be pure until you get married, and then learn together. We went to Niagara Falls for our honeymoon, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Our honeymoon was amazing. Do it the right way. You will not be disappointed.
My love story is still being written, 17 years later. I still think he is the best man in the whole world, and I am secure in our love for each other. He is my best friend, and my soul mate. We know what each other thinks before we say it. He can read my face and know exactly what's on my mind. We've learned to avoid things that irritate each other, and we enjoy spending every minute we can together. We have valleys, and we have up and downs. But life, for the most part, is lived on the mountain tops. Marriage is a wonderful thing, ladies.
Oh, and remember how I said he was a geek when I met him? He was. But not anymore. I am one of the lucky ones who got a man who gets better with age. What a hunk he is now! Even when he was a geek, I thought he was cute, but now I think my husband is absolutely, stunningly, handsome. Looks aren't everything, but it's awesome when you have a handsome face to stare at all the time. =)
God is good. I look forward to the lifetime of falling in love, over and over again, with my husband Tommy McMurtry.