Where do you see yourself in five years?
For Matt and I, as spontaneous as we were, the long-term game was our driving force. We spent countless date nights dreaming and talking about our future big-kid life. We envisioned thriving businesses, two babies, and a house in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. And, if things went really well, maybe we even get that boat I’d been dreaming of for years. As our relationship forged ahead, we had many family meetings dedicated to the planning and actualization of our goals. Future tripping was our jam; we were good at it. The five-year question was an easy one for us; we were going to be the “American dream” at its finest.
Today marks what would be our fifth wedding anniversary. As I scroll through countless images of our wedding day, I am reminded of the love, laughter, and cake in the face that day held. For the first time in my life, someone promised to do life with me and be by my side forever. It was twenty-four hours of pure joy.
But, our dream life was short lived. Matt was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer twenty-one months after we said, “I do”. We had no idea that “until death do us part” would mean three years together as husband and wife; no idea that Matt wouldn’t get to see his son grow up; no idea that the reality of having two children with the man I love would never come into existence. Our suburban fairytale was quickly replaced with the harsh reality of selling our Portland home and moving to Arizona; the vision of growing our family in the neighborhood of our dreams was in the past. The office buildings where we spent countless hours growing our businesses were now occupied by others and our names were no longer found hanging on the wall. I closed my practice to be a full-time caretaker and Matt wasn’t able to work; he had other battles to fight. Today, our family looks nothing like we thought it would. Our little boy has only one parent now. He is self declared “brother” to his boxer dog “sibling” who is 9 years older than him and somehow outlived her “dad”.
Our son and I celebrated Matt’s life and said goodbye to him exactly one month after what would have been our third wedding anniversary. The loss of innocence and the overwhelming familial change are tangible everyday. The grief for what will never be cuts deeper with every memory and the cruel lesson that we simply are not in control of our fate has brought me to my knees. However, while this life did not go according to plan, it’s the recognition of uncertainty that has manifested into a powerful reminder; that even on your most joyful day the future is abundantly unknown and the present is to be lived and enjoyed. As I reflect on our joyful day, a day so beautifully filled with love, just five short years ago, I am filled with deep gratitude. I am thankful for every year, month, week, day, hour, minute and second I was given on earth with Matt.
We were taught that all we have is today; the past is over; and the future is wildly unknown, despite how well laid out you think your plans are. Though our predictions for the future were way off, I find peace knowing that our time together was spent actually living; something I’m not entirely sure would have been true according to our original plan.
Happy 5th wedding anniversary angel!