“I am going to marry you” he says, and his hand tightens around mine. “I know it will be tough with me still being in school, but we can do it.”

As he continues to explains logistics, my twenty-two year old mind turns into lead. I am trying hard to listen, but all I hear is the sound of my heart pounding hard in my ears.

“What do you think?” he inquires and turns to face me.

My sweet 6’6″ nineteen year old boy’s face looks serious and concerned, trying to find the answer in my lowered gaze counting the buttons on his shirt.

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“Um… I am not sure. You know what that means… I just can’t  think about this yet… I really don’t know…”, I stammer, trying to loosen my hand from his tight grip.

Clayton wraps his arms around me and we stand there on the sidewalk as one while while the spring air breezes around us.

“Ok. But we will have to decide soon, love. I can’t let you go.”, he says while he gently strokes my back.

“I know. But not now. Let’s just not think about it for a few more months.”

He’s right, but the stakes are too high. In fact they are so high that I barely allow myself to feel anything most of the time. In less than six months I could be home and this boy would be a distant dream wrapped in my memories of college in the US.

At first I tell my mama that it’s nothing, as we talk on the phone. She tries to ask me more but I can’t seem to bear it.

Every morning for about six months I wake up determined to end it. When I finally muster the courage to do so, I drag myself to my room just in time to sob in my roommate’s lap. The next day I feel worse than I expected and even have a  hard time breathing. It finally occurs to me that my heart had made the decision months and months ago when, Clayton asked if he could read out loud to me so I could rest my eyes from so much reading.

“Mom, I think I’ve fallen in love with him. I don’t know what to do. This is so hard. I want to come home but… I am so sorry… he is here in school still… will you hate me if I choose to be with him?”

Clayton and I got married four and a half years ago, and my mama walked me down the aisle.

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During our first few years of marriage I was terrified. I expected one of us to wake up and realize that it was all a mistake, or that it was more than what we signed up for. Fear of the unknown. Fear of a failure. Fear of not being loved. While I consumed myself in fear, my husband showered me with confidence. Confidence that in fifty years we will still wake up to each other every morning. Confidence that I was worth being loved. Confidence that I was the most beautiful woman in the world to him. Confidence that we had a strong marriage. Confidence that my sacrifice was worth it.

Thank you, my love. Your efforts have not been in vain. I love you more, much more than when I married you and I am daily surprised by the joy, happiness, and growth our marriage gives us. God bless you.

xmas

Image taken by Elizabeth