I was going to hold off on this post for another week, but I really need to write something happy today.
The following is a letter I wrote to a good friend a number of years ago (blame the 2001 me for the writing).
It was the beginning of my second year at UF and it was a terrible semester. I was unsure of my future plans and I was lonely. After my first year (in the dorms), a group of my friends and I decided to move to an off campus apartment. I thought it would be great at first, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. It didn’t foster quite as much camaraderie as the dorms, and I sensed the void.
My birthday came about one month into that first year off campus. I decided not to call attention to myself by announcing it. The morning gave way to afternoon, the afternoon gave way to evening, the evening gave way to night, and no one mentioned it. I didn’t get a call from my parents. I didn’t get a call from my sisters. (To be fair, I was not expecting a call from my family; we had just celebrated my birthday the previous weekend back home.) None of my roommates (my best friends) mentioned it. It seemed by not calling attention to myself I got no attention at all, and it hurt. I felt insignificant. I was sure it was me and I was taking it very hard.
Within my circle of high school friends there was one in particular who did not go to UF with most of the rest of us. This friend and I got together occasionally on weekends when I was home, but due to the obvious lack of opportunity we didn’t speak as much as we had in the past. On that night of my birthday, feeling terribly alone, I went to check the mail. Among that day’s mail I discovered a birthday card from this friend. My spirits were instantly lifted. Getting this card from my friend back home lifted me up as much (or more) than my friends at UF let me down. I was elated that I meant enough to someone to remember. I felt so good it’s hard to describe. Up to that point my self esteem was near its all time low. That card did not solve all my problems, but it did help pull me through that first part of the semester. That friend went on to become my best and most important friend. Many of us can point to events in life which serve as a turning point, a shift in the fulcrum to forces seeking to push our lives in different directions. We find ourselves barreling down life’s highway in a certain direction, and something puts on the brakes, sending us up life’s on-ramp to greater fulfillment. This card, this friend, this semester… all served this purpose in my own life.
This friend and I will be married seven years ago this May 14.
We began as acquaintances, one of us having a crush on the other. We grew to be friends, but one of us left town after high school. In time we both became available (who am I kidding, I was always available) and became more than just friends; in many ways deeply committed from the start. We became husband and wife, but it was only a formality; society’s recognition of what God already saw, and we already felt deep in our hearts.
Many times, when I’ve felt down or depressed, I remember a birthday card from a very special friend. I think about how much life has changed since that forgotten birthday eleven years ago, and I remember that I am very lucky. I am married to my best friend and love of my life.
Happy Anniversary Cheryl,
Why wouldn’t I wait another week to post this letter? It’s only a few more days until our anniversary. But it’s been a lousy week and I’m in the mood to indulge myself early. Why would I share this letter at all? It is kind of private. But since when have I shied away from sharing the mess in my head?
Next week we’ll be married 15 years. But that’s not all! A few days later will mark the 30th anniversary of my dad starting at Honeywell. Why is this significant? It’s when he moved his family to Florida – including yours truly.
I’ve lived in Florida for 30 years, and half of it will be with Cheryl.
They’re just numbers, but they’re kinda cool numbers. They’re more than enough reason to be happy.