Yesterday, Andrew and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. For those of you who didn’t marry a traditionalist like I did, the second wedding anniversary is the cotton anniversary.
In addition to being a traditionalist, my husband is a sentimentalists. What this means is: I have a tub full of t-shirts in my basement that my husband never wears, but also will not allow me to throw away. Therefore, it only seemed right that his “cotton” wedding anniversary gift was a t-shirt quilt.
I am not a perfectionist. In fact, quite the opposite- I’m a bit of speed demon. This makes me a solid writer, a decent editor, and an extremely subpar crafter.
I have the knowledge to craft, just not the patience. So naturally, I lined up the very first two t-shirt squares for this quilt, inserted the pins, ran it through the sewing machine, but when I finished and pulled it out, they were sewed together just fine… except they were upside down.
There was no way to play it off. There was no way to readjust the pattern, to make the line go up and down instead of side to side. No, it was nothing more than an obvious and blatant mistake. The bottom of one shirt was sewed to the bottom of another.
I pulled out my handy-dandy thread remover, an essential tool to any sewing project I take on. I was just about to insert the remover into the very first stitch, when I really thought about the beauty of the mistake.
In truth, Andrew knows me. He knows that I speed through projects, speed through life, for that matter. He knows that I need to slow down at times, but he also embraces this part of me. He shows me so much grace and accepts this goofy flaw that causes me to sew two t-shirt blocks upside down. He knows that a true Alycia-made quilt would have a mistake or two, and if I removed this mistake, covered it up and started over, if I sought perfection in this project for my husband, I would be removing my own personality from its fibers. I would be reworking the beautiful and flawed parts of my story, our story.
So I left it. I kept it in its upside down glory, and I sewed around it. Then on the very last line, when I did the exact same thing again, just as quick and anxious at the end of a project as I am at the beginning, I left that too.
Last night, I presented this quilt to my husband in all of its flawed glory, and he didn’t point out that I messed up, though it was pretty obvious. He didn’t point out the parts that were upside down or lopsided. He simply gave me that love and grace filled smile he has granted me so many times over the years, and he told me that he loved it. He didn’t love it any less than he would have if it were perfect. He didn’t even love it despite the flaws. He loved it, flaws and all, because he loves me, flaws and all.
He loves me.
This has been a strange thing for me to grasp over the years. Sometimes, I still have to silent the lies of my own insecurities. He is the first man in my life to truly love me in this way. In my imperfections, in my silly mistakes, he loves me and embraces this part of me. He knows me. He knows these parts of me. He knows the upside-down squares of my own unique makeup, and yet he still chose me, and continues to choose me day after day. I’m on no pedestal (as clearly illustrated in a past blog) but I am, indeed, very loved.
We have a history, one that expands over six years, and a marriage that was written over the past two. Our history has pain, depth, and beauty that I never in a million years believed I would have the blessed opportunity to be 50% of.
Laced in between these fibers, you will likely find his cancer threads of these years. You find the hospital stays, and the surgeries, and all else that this disease entails. I understand that a cancer story is a loud story. It is a bright neon lace throughout an otherwise neutral fabric. I understand that people will always see this part of the story. I understand that some may be drawn to our story because of this bright, demanding, and unique thread, much more so than they are for the gray and tan and white fabrics that the rest of our relatively plain life presents.
I also understand that a lot of groans go up to heaven in our favor because of this cancer story. A lot of people see our pain, because it is hard to miss. They grieve with us. They grieve for us.
We love that you are willing to share this burden with us.
But we hope that one day, you’ll also find it in you to rejoice with us- not just in our miracle, but in our today. Though pain is louder than joy, joy is, and has always been, a constant presence in our story. There is no Andrew and Alycia, without joy, without happy.
I don’t really have any clear direction for this blog. I don’t have any life lesson. I don’t have any way of pulling this together with a big ole “AHA” moment. But one thing I know for certain is that despite it all, this life has been so kind to us. It has been so kind to gift us to each other. This thing we have, this life we live, is not common, and we understand that, and in that, time is irrelevant. What I have in my husband, what these two years of marriage have been, I don’t even have the words to express.
In a world of conditional love, we love each other unconditionally.
In a world of glorified independence, we have dared to lean our lives into each other.
In a world or cultural infidelity, we have never questioned the other’s faithfulness.
In a world of “me first,” we have diligently come together to learn what it looks like to put God first.
In a world of leisure, we find focus, determination to make this thing work.
In a world of shallow relations, we have dived into something painfully and wonderfully deep.
In a world that demands perfection, we find love in the imperfections.
Despite everything, every hard conversation, every hard diagnosis, every hard hour and season, I can look back on these two years, and confidently say:
We are the lucky ones.
Happy anniversary to my happy.