We had a lot of hopes and dreams for our happily ever after when we said “I do” almost 16 years ago.
We were young, and in love, but we found out pretty quickly that this marriage thing didn’t come easily.
We had the stress of both starting careers at the same time; yours in law enforcement, and mine in teaching.
Then the kids started coming and we were tired. And midnight shifts were hard to figure out with a family.
But we pushed though. We held on through tough seasons.
Maybe those times prepared us for what was to come.
See, we never dreamed on that wedding day with the lace and the candles and the promises, that we would be given a beautiful son.
A son we’d hoped and prayed for.
A son with significant special needs.
We didn’t know anything back then as baby-faced twenty-somethings about ABA therapy, or stimming or eloping.
We didn’t know about rigidity or self-injurious behaviors.
We had no idea about autism.
We had no idea the heartache, the grief, and the joy it could bring.
If anyone deserves to come home after working four straight twelve hour midnight shifts, put their feet up and relax, it’s you.
But you don’t get to do that. You come home and you take over the constant one on one supervision our son needs.
You handle meltdowns trying to prevent anyone from getting hurt.
You plan family evenings and we watch shows and eat popcorn, and find joy in the most simple things.
Sometimes we’re trying to help our boy in his extremely aggressive meltdowns, trying to help him calm himself.
We look at each other across his flailing body and don’t say a word.
There’s nothing to say. We both wonder how we got here, how did this become our life?
Sometimes we’re outside swinging or bouncing with him and his sisters, and his pure joy and laughter, the beauty of the love the three of them share, make us wonder, how did this become our life?
There’s a lot of hard, a lot of chaos, and a lot of trauma in our home right now.
We both know that our son is going to need our care in some way for the rest of our lives.
It’s not easy, but year after year, you stay. You chose to come home, take on the hard, and love us well.
You have the most pure, selfless, love for our kids.
I know that with you by my side, we won’t just get through hard times.
We will continue to find the joy and the laughter and we will find reasons to laugh in these seasons of grief and struggle.
We make the best team you and me.
And while life doesn’t look anything like we thought it would, it just might be even better than we could’ve imagined.