A few days ago, Donna and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary with a vow renewal. We had a great time and loved seeing all who attended. I wish we could have accommodated more of you, but we had pushed the limits of what the venue could handle.
We had attempted to record the event. Technical difficulties occurred and parts are unintelligible so I will write out the vows here.
Our good friends, the Best Man and Maid of Honor from our wedding, returned to stand with us once again. I love their love story. We had another close couple sing You’re Still the One as we entered and Have I Told You Lately after we said our vows.
Over 30 years ago, I sat with you at the fountain in front of Lee College. I told you the story of my grandmother’s engagement. When my grandfather proposed, they had only met a couple of weeks earlier while she was on a trip visiting family. As he proposed to her, he said, “I don’t believe in divorce.” She said, “Neither do I.”
They remained married until he died. They had two weeks to know if they would spend a lifetime together. I knew after one week, but it took me five months to ask.
When you agreed to marry me that night, you knew we would have a rough financial start, and we did! We had no money. Homeless people often have more money than we did, but we have never once been without food or shelter.
When you agreed to marry me that night, you knew we would have a rough start with a child and we did! We just did not know the difficulty would be from losing Alex, and then infertility.
When you agreed to marry me that night, you knew our children would die someday, but we never thought we would see it, much less three.
When you agreed to marry me that night, you knew we had faith in God above all things. However, we never thought our faith would crumble to nothing and have to be rebuilt.
I loved you in September 1990. I loved you that night at the fountain more when I proposed. I loved you more when we had to scrounge for change so we could eat. I loved you more when I was in the field behind the Church Street apartment crying out to God, begging for us to have a child. I loved you more driving our colicky son around for hours in the middle of the night. I loved you more when I answered a call you said should go unanswered. I loved you more holding your hand going through 12 months of hell. I always playfully quipped, “I love you more”.
You have always shown your love. Since 2018, we have either had to hold on tight or be tossed apart. I have needed to rely upon you more than ever and am glad you held on tight.
I don’t know what the future has for us, just like I did not know that night over 30 years ago. What I do know is, I still love you, and I want to spend the next 30 years with you.
I am blessed to be standing here with you today on this our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
David, you are the love of my life. You make me happier than I could have ever imagined. When I am with you I feel more love than I ever thought possible. For these past 30 years you have been my best friend, confidant, lover….. my everything. Throughout our marriage you have shown me what true genuine love is. You have loved me better than I deserve.
Thirty years ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, I pledged my love and commitment to you. We have truly lived out our original wedding vows; to love and to cherish, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
We have tested our vows with many good times, and more than our fair share of hard times. Overwhelming grief and loss that no parent should ever endure, emptiness that will never disappear. We have experienced times of poverty and times riches. Accidents, recurring health issues and unexplained illness seem to never end. Through it all, we continue to love and cherish one another.
Remaining committed to each other and our vows during the difficult times has strengthened our bond. Your unwavering love and support have been a blessing to me as we worked to Honor our vows and to create our life, our family, and our home.
Today, I renew my vows to you. In the presence of God, and our family and friends, I pledge my eternal love for you. With a continued commitment to love you, honor you, cherish and keep you. For better, for worse, for richer or poorer and in sickness and in health. I promise to continue to support you and be by your side. For the past 30 years, I have made the choice to love you every day. You have made choosing you easy. Today, I promise to continue to choose you from now until the day I die.
While dating at Lee, we wrote a “love note” that we passed back and forth to each other. We would find it in random places like our mailbox, textbook, backpack, or purse. Finding this note was always a surprise and encouragement. It was always fun for me to plan when I would pass it back to you at an unexpected time. The last time we passed this note was when you placed it in my campus mailbox the afternoon before our wedding 30 years ago. Today I return it to you and hope you always remember I love you more.
At the end of Donna’s vows, as she said, “remember I love you more”, she handed me the aged-yellow index card I had given to her the day of our wedding thirty years ago! I had not seen this card in many, many years and did not think we still had it. I was stunned! We did not know each other’s vows ahead of time. We often say we have nothing in common, but it is obvious we still think alike. Donna amazes me all the time!
I love you more, Donna!