Better Than Wine and Roses

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Fourteen years ago, I practically ran walked down that long, long blue aisle to where Knute stood, decked out in his full USN Ensign dress whites, waiting for me.

It was Saturday, the tail end of Commissioning Week at the Academy, and the USNA Chapel was one hopping joint. Every hour, on the hour, from Thursday through Saturday, there was a wedding, ten weddings each day - thirty in total.

The previous May, when Knute was finishing his Second Class year at the Academy (junior year to those of you who like me went to a traditional university), all thirty engaged Midshipmen who wanted to get married in the Chapel during Commissioning Week met with the wedding director and entered their names into a random drawing for day and hour.

The top choice, the numero uno, most-coveted time slot?

Saturday, 1:00 pm.

They drew for that time slot first and guess who's name they pulled?

Knute stood there, he told me later on the phone, happily surprised; one of his classmates hollered, "I'll pay you $1000 right now for that time slot."

He declined; we were married not long after 1:00 pm on Saturday, June 3, surrounded by friends and family and the beauty and history of the USNA Chapel. We had one rocking wedding reception (Mouthy Irish Family + Open Bar = one heck of a good time) at a local restaurant (people still talk about how good the food was), then headed off for our honeymoon.

As beautiful and sacred as our wedding day was, and as fairy tale-ish a setting the USNA Chapel is for the start of our life together, it was only one day. Marriage is a lifetime of days together, days that are lived in the real world.

There are no trumpets blasting to the heavens every time I walk into the room and Knute's eyes alight upon me (standard music as you walk down the aisle at USNA), no tunnel of swords to duck through as we step out into the world as man and wife.

There are no trimmings of white roses and lilies surrounding us, no fancy clothes to don carefully, breathlessly, no head table where we sit as the guests of honor.

There is no stopping the clock of the world to be alone together.

Our marriage has happened every day, through good days and bad, in the gritty beauty that is life. We have endured moves and job changes. We have suffered through the loss of Knute's dad, a loss that left an empty hole that still echoes with sadness in our family ten years later.

We have argued and made up, argued and let it be, then argued again, and have learned to sometimes agree to disagree.

We have brought three children into this world, blessings born of our love for each other and our faith in God. We've endured colic and croup, surgeries and hospitals, and endless, weary nights filled with crying by both the baby and by an overwhelmed and exhausted me.

We have moved six times, each move a ball of excitement, challenge, sadness, small disappointments and big hopes.

Through it all, I have loved this man, this man who I knew I would marry the night when we first met.

And he has loved me, loved me insanely and without reserve.

I told Knute the other night as we talked about how fast the years have passed since that first June 3rd that I'm the least sentimental woman on the face of the earth; no need for flowers or cards or extravagant gifts for me, I said.

And I mean that, I meant that all the way down to the tips of my pink and pearly toenails.

Love is a verb and everything that you do for me, Knute, everything that you do for us, is love - active and alive, giving and growing.

I will forever love you, Knute, with or without the trumpets and sword bearers.

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