It was my first night out in over a year. My Dad had called and said it was high time I had a night out and he was taking my baby for the night, so a friend dragged me to a party I didn’t want to go to. She introduced me to everyone in the group, including two guys named Eric. We were all going to head out to Karaoke, but everyone was waiting for one more person to show up. “We gotta wait for Eric Mills,” my friend’s date said. “Then we’ll get going.”
“Don’t we have enough Erics here already?” I asked and laughed at my little joke. I was uncomfortable and awkward and wanted to get out of that house and go watch my friends make fools of themselves while belting out Madonna songs.
I made small talk and tried to blend in for a while, and then it happened. That moment that would change my life forever.
Eric Mills finally got there. (An hour late, which should have warned me that I would spend the rest of my life waiting for this guy. But I probably would have fallen for him anyway.)
After that, nothing was ever the same again. And moment by moment, a life was built.
There are moments that stick out in my mind when I think of our life together so far, and they are mostly big, grand things.
Like that moment he walked in the room looking so, so cute and cool in his wool fisherman’s sweater, tan cords, and a ball cap, and I said to my friend, “That one’s mine.”
And then later that evening, when he took his hat off for the first time and I saw his whole handsome face and he grinned at me and my tummy flipped.
Or him, driving to the beach and managing to sound nervous and cool at the same time when he said, “here’s a song for you,” and played a Bob Marley song for me about love, singing along and giving me a sideways smile.
When he was too excited to wait to plan the perfect proposal and rushed straight home after buying the ring and sat on the coffee table and blurted out, “Will you marry me?”
That time I was in a little room beside a beautiful chapel, and Canon in D started and the bridesmaids were walking down the aisle and the tears started falling and I was so happy it scared me. Then the music changed to the bridal march and my dads were holding both my arms and walking me towards my groom and finally, I saw his face and it was just us and it was just right.
When we were in a musty courthouse, worried about one of our little girls and I was shaky and losing it with rage and fear and he got really firm and grabbed me by the shoulders and told me to calm down. And then, when I did, he held me and said everything would be okay and for some reason I believed him and eventually, it was.
And that time I went into the bathroom to secretly take a test, and saw two little pink lines and dropped to my knees and cried. And I came out, thinking I’d keep it a secret until dinner that night and he saw my face that can’t hide anything and said, “Really?” And hugged me and cried and laughed and jumped up and down, then told me not to jump because it might hurt the baby.
And when I was pregnant and on bed rest and ate so much and gained more weight than I could ever blame on any little baby. Then that day, when he brought me a burrito and I burst into tears about all the fatness and he wiped my tears and said you’re beautiful and perfect and I believed him. And then I ate the burrito.
When our squealing pink and blue baby was born and the doctors needed to take her for testing and he followed her all around the hospital, making sure no one snatched her or switched kids on us.
When I was recovering from a brutal surgery and he cried to see me in pain, and when I couldn’t get out of bed alone and he scooped me up and gently carried me to the bathroom and helped me in my most humbling moments.
Or that moment, when we were in courthouse again, but this time it was a happy, clean place and he looked at my daughter, who was his daughter now too, and made all our dreams come true and said Yes, I want to be her father.
When you think about your life, it’s usually those grand moments that flash by. The big, pretty, movie-worthy memories.
And yet, every day there are little moments that are kind of amazing in their comfortable, boring, quiet way, too.
Have you ever noticed how easily a million of those little amazing moments could go by and be forgotten? But, as great as the big moments are, it’s those little moments that make a house a home. It’s the little ones that make a husband a best friend. That make a father a daddy.
I don’t want to forget the little things.
Like when we’re rushing around getting ready for church and he fries me an egg because he knows I’ll be starving later if I don’t eat.
Or when he gets home from work and calls me a silly name for no reason and dances with me for a minute in the kitchen.
Or when he comes home from a long day of work and takes the kids to their rehearsals so I can work on my writing dream.
Or when he cleans my glasses as we’re driving down the road because the smudges drive him crazy and he assumes it must bother me, too.
How he grabs my hand every single time we pray, no matter where we are, or how we feel about each other in that moment.
His hand on my back when I’m talking to someone and he can see that they’re bugging me and he gives me a little boost just by being there.
The smile he gives me over one of our kid’s heads when they’re being really cute or really annoying.
And every time he tells me to be careful and drive safe, because he can’t imagine life without me.
I don’t want to forget these things, and I don’t want to take them for granted, either. I don’t want to compare our boring everyday-ness with those big, grand moments and feel like something is missing in the every day.
I don’t want to get so hung up on waiting for my always-late husband that I forget he’s worth the wait.
I want to dwell on both the grand and the boring. And I want to remember to thank Eric for each of those things. For finally showing up that night. And for showing up every day since.
Something that’s helping me right now is this:
Every day when I pass it, I am reminded of that wonderful day and all the big moments. I’m also reminded to hold onto those little things, and to thank Eric for them as well.
On this particular day, he had made my eggs before church. Other days, I might be mushy, or sexy, or sometimes funny and inside-jokey. And sometimes he writes little notes to me, too. I can see many more little moments in our future being written and shared and then erased on this board.
And maybe some big moments, too.
In fact, maybe someday I’ll be looking back over our life and marriage and I’ll remember that moment this board came in the mail and caused me to start paying more attention to the little things. And maybe, when you start to do that, nothing is ever the same.