June 5, 1982: Kelly and I said “I do.” She had been 19 for six weeks. I would be 19 in nine weeks. We were just kids who were in love, drawn together six years earlier as teenagers at about the same time both of our homes were devastated by divorce.
We really didn’t have a clue. Kelly was far more mature (still is), but we’ve often agreed that, in hindsight, we should have waited to marry, so I mention that bit of wisdom as a way of saying, “Kids, don’t get married when you’re 19.” On the other hand, if we hadn’t married in June 1982 and delayed the inevitable nuptials — or not married at all — Kishia Chantel probably w0uldn’t have been born on Feb. 26, 1985, and Natasha LaRin wouldn’t have been born on March 13, 1987.
The greatest blessings of our life together — and now Princess Kianna Allene Brown, our granddaughter — are the children God gave us.
Hindsight says one thing. Reality and a wonderful life says another. We’d do it all over again, the same way, if given the choice and opportunity. Every day is at once new and predictable, laced with a solid measure of security yet seasoned with adventure and discovery. Kelly and I are as different as night and day yet also as similar as lifelong best friends and companions should be.
Some refer to their spouses as their better half. Kelly is my completeness, probably more like my 100 percent. Our lives aren’t linked as pieces of a puzzle; rather, our souls are woven together. Not saying “I do” on 6/5/82 wouldn’t have left me with a hole in my heart. That would have left me with an abyss deeper and wider than all the oceans combined.
A few weeks ago Kelly said to me, “I like our life.” Few statements have ever given me as much satisfaction, peace and contentment.
As anniversary No. 30 passed, I made a list of my Top 10 “secrets” to a long, happy, fulfilling marriage. But when I finally listed No. 10, I realized that was the only secret that I needed to share. (I’ll share No. 1-9 at a later date, including “No. 3: Pursue and practice purity,” and “No. 5, Pray for and with each other.”)
“Realize you still don’t have a clue.”
Thirty years later — marriage, fatherhood, now grandparenthood — I still often feel like a novice, not an expert. That’s humbling but, unlike this time 30 years ago, not as daunting and scary. As we begin Day 1 of the next 30 years today. The adventure continues, fueled by love and laughter.
This is gonna be great!