It is our wedding day.
The music swells, the crowd stands, we smile. We hold hands, trying to breathe deep and take it in. "It goes so quickly!" people say, so we try to soak it up and hold on to memories. We say vows we have worked on for hours, vows we struggle to remember in the moment, as it already feels so fleeting. We hear a message, we kiss, we are married. We are somehow down the aisle, past the crowd again, and inside, without really remembering how we got there. We are married.
We face a world of possibility, of wonder, of dreams yet to come true.
We wonder what our children will look like. We wonder if we will make it through the end of college with degrees without going into debt. We wonder how many babies we will have, and if we will be those people who have babies before their first anniversary. We wonder if we will have a future in ministry or a career with the forest service. We wonder if we will decide to live on the east coast or the west. We wonder if we will get a dog or if Carson will win Lindsay over and convince her to get a cat. We wonder if we will become a two car family.
With each day that passes, we see our "what ifs" and "I wonders" turn into real life.
We discover that we can really only wonder, only dream, because real life is full of things beyond what we might have imagined.
We have been told to take it all in, and we do, trying not to blink so that we don't miss out.
We don't know yet that the tiny shack we will live in for our first few months will harbor sweet memories along with an aggressive colony of sugar ants. We don't know that we will join a church where we will thrive and grow and learn. We don't know that Carson will get pneumonia on his 24th birthday, just a few days before our first Christmas. We don't know that we will live in the Reilly building where we will make lifelong friendships as we spend hours each week cleaning the church. We don't know that our long walks downtown will be full of conversation and plans about the future. We don't know but we wonder about a career in fire fighting for Carson.
We blink, and we have been married a year.
We don't know that in that year, Carson will break his foot doing routine exercises on the fire crew, and begin to think seriously about academia. We don't know that we will be so obsessed with saving money that we won't go home for Christmas and will also not be able to fly out for our friends' wedding. We don't know that we will regret not going to that wedding and that we will decide that we will do our best in the future to make those memories and to be there for the people we love. We don't know that Carson will apply to lots of grad schools and get into a few, but that the tiny school in Ohio that we kept forgetting about will be the one that sends the reminder emails and offers tuition with a stipend.
We blink and two years have passed.
We don't know that just four days after our second anniversary, Lindsay will discover she's pregnant, the morning of graduation. We don't know the heartbreak that summer will bring. We don't know that Lindsay will be in four weddings this year. We don't know that we will feel so welcomed even before we get to Cleveland. We don't know that we will visit just one church and that we will quickly join that church and will grow and learn about community in a way we never have. We don't know that Cleveland winters make Spokane winters feel like summer. We don't know that not too long before our third anniversary, Carson's brother and his family will begin to foster three precious girls, girls we hope and pray for, and who also open our minds to the possibility of foster to adopt. We don't know that Carson will finally cave and go to an eye doctor in this year, and will finally be able to tell that trees have leaves again when he gets his new glasses.
We blink and we have been married three years.
We don't know that in this year, we will fall in love with a city that has a curiously bad reputation. We don't know that we will make a bucket list and explore as much of that place as we can. We don't know that we will feel very much at home in Cleveland, and decide that we will probably stay. We don't know that of the doctoral programs Carson has applied to, that one in Florida will offer him a position. We don't know that we will tell all our friends that we are planning to turn it down, only to pray about it really hard and surprise everyone with the news that actually we feel like a move down South seems like the right decision (still sorry about that, friends!). We don't know that in this year, we will find a great doctor who seems to have the answers, and then a few months later lose our third baby. We don't know that we will grieve once again, maybe more than we did before as we fear a future that we had not expected.
We blink and we are at our fourth anniversary.
We don't know that Carson will graduate with highest honors with his MA (although we are not remotely surprised). We don't know that we will be sadder about leaving Cleveland, a city we will live in for only 22 months, than we were about leaving Spokane, our home of four years. We don't know that we will really struggle to find a church in Tallahassee for over a year. We don't know that in that time, we will spend lots of time traveling to see friends and family in the South, now that we are within driving distance. We don't know that we will begin to see the necessity of the church body in a way we probably couldn't if we'd found a church right away again. We don't know that we will really enjoy being part of a school with a football team that is, for that year at least, undefeated. We don't know that garnet and gold, which color the streets of Tallahassee, will find its way into our wardrobes and stuck on our car. We don't know how nice it will be to be in warmer weather, a much needed thaw after the cold of Cleveland. We don't know that Carson will discover how very much he likes the beach, and that he will meet Mickey Mouse for the first time. We don't know that this year will pass with no pregnancies, no babies, and that we will grow as we learn to deal with that.
We blink and we have been married five years. Half a decade!
We don't know, although we hope, that this will be the year that we do find a church in Tallahassee. We don't know that we will be so refreshed by finding a church, by finally having good friends, that we will begin to settle down. We don't know that before we do, we will get to travel all over the place again to see friends and visit new places. We don't know that our car will hit invisible things when we are driving in Georgia and that our tire will go flat (three times!). We don't know that Lindsay will accept a new job opportunity that is wildly out of her comfort zone and yet will feel much more "her". We don't know that Carson will lose three grandparents within this year, and that two of them will decide right before their deaths to spend those last few breaths on earth as followers of Jesus, joining the third in glory. We don't know that after months of waiting and years of discussing the possibility, that Carson will be accepted as a Fulbright finalist to Germany. We don't know that we will visit a doctor who will give us hope and give us a plan as we seek answers for the future of our family.
We blink and it is six years later.