Nineteen years ago, we were standing in my parent's kitchen - pink tile and dirty dishes. The house was empty and you leaned over to take a kiss from my lips. My first kiss.
A few days later, I told my parents, "I'm dating Tim Sheaffer." Matter-of-fact. I don't remember there being a big discussion. The rule was age sixteen and I was nine months over.
For my seventeenth birthday, you surprised me with a trip up Mt. Lemmon. I wore a body-skimming sparkly navy evening dress with a slit up the thigh - you had on a sweater vest and sunglasses.
On your nineteenth, I planned a scavenger hunt all around town - with clues left in library books and park benches. Final destination: a resort for dinner. (I had a buy one, get one 50% off coupon from the local entertainment book).
I wish we had pictures from those birthdays. It wasn't as easy with film cameras and cell phone cameras weren't invented yet.
There have been many other birthdays together - exactly as many as we've had apart.
But most of our birthdays have grown dim in my memory. They don't stand out from other days as our twenties have passed into our thirties.
It's not that we've lost our romance - we've actually found the true meaning of it. You know me better than anyone else; and vice versa. And yet, we're still a mystery to each other. There are still moments - many moments - I look at you and think incredulously, "you're even more amazing than I thought."
There's that famous poem about counting the ways of love and I always think the second line should be a question instead of a statement. How can I possibly count them?
- The way you pace on the telephone.
- The way you can spend all day working - hammering, tiling, assembling - and end with a huge smile on your face. Projects fill you up.
- The way you don't care at all about sports teams and tournaments - and both of our lives are better for it.
- The way you write numbers on whiteboards and we stay up late with business ideas volleying between us.
- The way you read your Bible every night, under the covers beside me.
- The way you flip pizza dough like a famous chef in Italy.
- The way you cut mangos, watermelon, and onions with amazing precision and beauty.
- The way you know all about birth and breastfeeding - and can articulate best practices.
- The way you do so many push-ups I can't keep track.
- The way you can fix absolutely everything - from a broken bike to a broken heart.
- The way you know that you really can't because only HE can.
- The way you can negotiate with equal parts charm, intellect, and stubbornness - while still sticking to the truth.
- The way you care deeply about the church - enough to argue about it.
- The way you listen to audiobooks on 3x speed and actually comprehend it.
- The way you do crazy dances to make your daughters smile.
- The way you strike up conversations with the elderly and white-haired beauties always tell me I have "a good one."
- The way you enjoy the work you do.
- The way you chomp on raw kale and have taught our girls to do the same.
- The way you brush and floss until your teeth gleam - pure whiteness.
- The way you down cod liver oil like it's no big deal. Even the lumpy chocolate kind.
- The way you can envision architecture, maps, and grids in your head.
- The way you can put together IKEA furniture without even looking at the directions. That's a super-power right there.
- The way you (mostly) stay away from social media, but you still understand it.
- The way you can answer any technology question with a snap of your fingers - as if by magic.
- The way you don't wait to take a risk. You think and you jump.
- The fact that you would drive an RV around the country for a year, with two babies in the backseat.
- The fact that you still are open to a baby #4 - despite the chaos.
- The way you almost always say "yes" to my new business ideas and push me right into my dreams.
- The way you take care of our house and our vehicles so diligently.
- The way you walk fast - like I do. Or so people say.
- The way you can hike seven miles with a baby on your back.
- The way you can go out the door and run a half-marathon without training.
- Your hands.
- Your eyes.
- Your heart.
Today, you are 35. But I could keep counting. I will keep counting. You are everything I ever wanted -- and so much more.