The Rudder to My Ship

Photo Courtesy of  Vanessa Kessler Photography

Photo Courtesy of Vanessa Kessler Photography

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. 

We have a mortgage, a 12 year old son, a 5 year old dog, 2 car payments, a private school tuition payment, a white fence, a pool, debt payments, 2 full time jobs, 2 parents living, 2 parents passed away, 2 side hustles, and countless dreams. 

This all happened in the past 14 years because on this day we said, “You’re the one I choose.”

Also on this day 14 years ago I, now famously told, almost didn’t walk down the aisle. I had a full on panic attack behind the closed doors as I was about to walk down the aisle. I couldn't breathe. 

We joke about it now but I was thinking about it a bit more the other day. You see, I freaked out the night before as well. Went back to my hotel room after an epic meltdown in front of our guests and cried and cried. 

Joe went and played poker by himself. 

Both of us alone in the city that doesn’t sleep. Mine a bit more dramatic than his because that’s how I’ve always rolled. 

So I got to thinking- maybe we both had an idea of what was to come and freaked out a bit. 

When two people agree to build a marriage, a love, a life together- that’s a big freakin deal. No wonder I had a panic attack. 

As we were rushing through our morning routine this morning- “Logan pack your lunch”, “Has the dog been taken out yet?”, “What time will you be home tonight?”, “Did you get that text from my brother?” - I turned to him and simply asked……

“Would you do it all over again?”

He paused- I’m sure deciding whether to make a smart ass comment or answer nicely, “I would” he said.
“I would too”, I answered. 

I look at the picture of us on this day and boy do those kids look young. I felt my most gorgeous on that day and it shows. I shine.

He has less hair, I have more weight. There is grey where there was once brown hair on both of us, more wrinkles, more laugh lines (thank GOODNESS), and so much more wisdom. 

In a small way I miss those kids. Those versions of us who were just starting this journey together and some of the really hard shit hadn’t even landed in their laps yet. Many of which caused said wrinkles.

For some reason this year feels different. 

We’ve walked through hell fire these past two years and what I’ve come to realize is that if it were those two kids that had been at the edge of the fire- they wouldn’t have made it. 

Rather, it was the two people who had 12 years of marriage under their belts that stood at the edge of the fire and chose to keep walking- regardless of how much it hurt. 

We have scars and burns and broken hearts as reminders of what has happened. Some of that inflicted by each other, some by others. 

Maybe that bride behind the doors saw a version of these past two years and knew that version of herself wasn’t ready. 

And yet, she also believed that maybe, just maybe, the two souls that just happened to meet and really knew each other would be able to withstand some of the mightiest storms and maybe the risk was worth it. 

We’ve long joked that my Dad and his calm demeanor got me down the aisle. Maybe so- he did have a way of always fixing things for me. 

Yet, I think it was my future self that reassured my soul that yes, Heather, you are making the right choice. You’ll be able to walk through the fire- together. 

Marriage is about all of it- the sunshine and the fire, the pain and then rising, the laughter and the tears, the life and death. 

When we walk down the aisle the person at the other end will change just as much as you will each and every day. I’m not the same woman that put on that dress and that’s the same for him. 

We’ve built a life together from the first moment we met in the coffee shop 17 years ago, to the walk down the aisle, to the morning rush of today. 

What I know for sure is that he sees me for who I am and still loves me. He’s still the man I want to share my days with- first. That even when I lose my way he’ll be sure to remind me where my path is and how I can get back on it. 

The rudder to my ship. 

It’s certainly my hope that the tests and fires will be less frequent in the years to come. We’ve had our fill for a while. (Are ya listening, Universe?!)

Yet, deep down, I know that we can choose to walk over the coals together because we already have.

I love you Joseph Michael Filipowicz, Jr. 

Let’s do it all over again, shall we?