Tonight marks four years of Luke and Manda, and in honor of this momentous occasion, I (Amanda, of course,) have found myself pondering– how did that cocky, overly arrogant handsome man in uniform go from a brief, temporary co-worker to my forever husband, partner-in-crime, best friend and soulmate? It seems like it happened overnight, but time has truly flown by, and I cannot imagine our life without one another. It was truly destined to be this way, and yet, it is sometimes hard to realize that with our marriage came the end of life as I knew it– a life that included everything familiar to me– my hometown, the close friendship of kids I’d known since elementary school, living in close proximity to my parents and brother. But of course, this is the way it’s supposed to be. Gradually, The One that sweeps you off your feet turns into your everything, your relationship with him second only to your relationship with God, and then you form a new family together, never forgetting the old, but willingly accepting the next chapter in the magical story of your life.
“Don’t Blink…just like that, you’re six years old and you take a nap, and you wake up, and you’re 25, and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife…”– Kenny Chesney truly knew what he was talking about, that’s for sure!
Except for me, it’s my college sweetheart, and as he reminded me the other day when he came home to our
sometimes overly messy apartment, wadding up his ACU’s into yet another pile on the living room floor as I unwrapped our dinner–takeout Chinese AGAIN- this time will pass us by all too quickly as well. It’s amazing that life can play such tricks; in the moment life can seem to drag on forever. You want your husband home from the field, you crave that promotion or raise at work, you want and strive for more and more and more. And then you have it all, and you wake up and life has passed you by. That’s my biggest fear– waking up and realizing it’s all over, that the time warp has sucked us in and spit us out at 65, retired with a couple of grandchildren and the great-great-great grandpuppy of our still-hypothetical golden retriever. And, we won’t remember much about how we traveled steadily onward from Point A to Point B. Therefore, I, an admittedly over-achiever, Type A personality, am forcing myself to stop and enjoy this last bit of smelly socks, snacks for dinner, late night TV marathons and the last remaining shreds of irresponsibility as my husband and I revel in this newlywed, pre-children era. After all, it won’t last forever. I suppose you can still call us newlyweds, although we are nearly a year in now; as they’d say the “honeymoon”–another phase that doesn’t last forever, may be officially “over.” But, that’s OK, because this new phase brings with it a steady consistency, a happiness and an intimacy that was not here before during our dating, engagement or the first few months of marriage. There is nothing like a forever-sized commitment to bring out all of the quirks amazing qualities in a way that allows you to open yourself up completely to another person.
The same may be true of friendship; and one thing I have learned about the Army, time is truly fleeting. Today, your best friend lives down the street. Seemingly next week, she and her husband are PCS’ing (Army lingo for getting the heck out of Dodge) to a location hundreds or thousands of miles away. Therefore, you simply can’t waste time being shy or timid. Instead, you take the friendship by the horns and make all of those fun memories that you want to look back on when you’re old and gray–those “Remember When’s” that will come to you in your mind’s eye as you think back to this chapter–these friends, this home, that job, that Army post.
One of my favorite sayings comes from one of my best friends in our new home. She is one who always seems to have the right words, and although my major and my long love for the English language declares me to be a writer, I can never seem to sum it up as eloquently as she does. She has often reminded me, as we have experienced peaks and valleys together, walking the same pathway thus far during our friendship: “a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
Sometimes, people are brought into our lives to help us to grow, to learn or to change. Their presence may be temporary, but their impact on our hearts can be permanent and will withstand long after we have both moved on and continued on our own respective journeys. Those people are there for both a reason and a season. Some have gone on before us, such as grandparents, who have forever imprinted their legacies upon our heart, and others may be first loves, childhood friends or even siblings who have grown apart, but whose bond formed amidst fights over board games and the construction of tree forts will always remain, albeit evolving along the way.
Meanwhile, others pass in and out of our lives like a gust of wind; acquaintances, co-workers, that buddy from the ball field or neighbor across the street. They may be there for a short while, and their impact may be minimal. But just think, what if we chose to leave a positive impact on everyone around us, even temporarily? What power would we then have to change the world? What if we made sure WE took the extra time to get to know that coworker or to offer your teammate a ride home from practice? You never know when someone else could use a helping hand, as their journey is far different from our own. Even if you’ll only know them today, as you pass on the sidewalk, you can still shoot them a smile and a greeting. You never know how it will change their day.
This is the outlook that my friend has, and that she successfully implements into her daily walk with God and with others. I know she will continue to do so in her next chapter, which is sadly veering away from mine for now. But that’s OK; because sometimes, even when the path winds in two different directions, with you choosing the fork to the right and another following their path to the left, you still manage to keep that connection, that similarity of souls that just mesh, which will forever change your life. You may not always walk the same way, but you still value the same things and care about one another as you did when you were hiking that mountain together and sharing a picnic lunch on a warm summer’s day.
And then occasionally, you’re one of the lucky ones. Your teenage love may become your spouse, and he/she may then walk beside you for a lifetime. That is a rare and precious treasure; although I have not been married that long, I understand that this kind of soul mate is to be cherished and never taken for granted, because those small every day moments are the most meaningful. –Coming home to find out your loved one has left the stove on for a full 24 hours and yet laughing because the house has not burned down, comforting one another after a hard day at the office, kicking the soccer ball around and joining a team, even though one of you doesn’t have a single athletic bone in their body, or just cooking a meal together and enjoying the companionship of marriage. After all, even a lifetime in reality only lasts a season, so here’s to making every moment count.
Happy 4 years, sweetheart; I love you forever and always, no matter where the path may lead!