This week, Billy and I celebrated the 16th anniversary of our first date (our “dateaversary” as we call it). A night that we walked into a bar as friends, just like so many other night. We drank some beers, watched a ballgame, and chose to take a leap.
Our story did not begin that night. Stories, after all, do not have beginnings or endings but simply arbitrary dates from which we mark a before and an after. October 19th is that day for us.
Billy once told me that fate brought us together; that there were too many coincidences, too many ghosts, too many decisions that could have gone the other way for it to be random. But even if fate brought us together on the lawn of the law school, it was we who made the choice to be together that night in October.
And every day for the last sixteen years, we have chosen and re-chosen each other all over again.
We chose each other in the days when we unknowingly slipped into adulthood. As we got degrees and jobs and a dog and a house. As we made a life.
We chose each other within the sacred stone walls of churches. As we met each other at the altar clutching shiny rings in our shaking palms. As we clutched babies in white christening gowns. As we walked arm in arm, cloaked in black, clutching Kleenex wet with tears.
We chose each other in the middle of many nights, bleary eyed and exhausted. From law school exams. From writing briefs and motions with 24 hour deadlines. From rocking crying babies who would not fall sleep. From worrying about bills and responsibilities and taking care of the people we love.
We chose each other through dinners in front of the TV, new jobs, new houses, and old arguments. When we were busy or tired or hurt.
We chose each other in noisy hospital corridors. As we walked with trepidation and excitement to see the life that we created through the nursery window. As we held our sobbing child in the Emergency Room. As our feet moved in rhythm with the mechanical beeping of machines toward doctors whose eyes would not meet ours.
We choose each other in the big moments and in the small ones. In spite of all of our flaws and fears. When it is easy and when it is hard.
We didn’t do anything special on October 19th. We never do. We just sit next to each other, arm in arm, and choose each other. Again and again and again.
Love hard friends…