I was seventeen, she was sixteen. I stared at her as she walked down the hall, and as she passed me our eyes met. In that twinkling moment of destiny, I mustered up all my courage, looked deep into her blue eyes and said, “Hey you, can I have some mustard?” That, ladies and gentlemen, is the first sentence I ever said to the woman who would become my wife.
Actually, that’s probably not true; our history goes back further than that. My family has been acquainted with hers for probably 20 years now, going back to when I and my now brother-in-law were on the same little league baseball team with my now father-in-law as coach. As in most times of my life, I was a total spazzy weirdo, so everyone hated me. I never understood why all my teammates were mad at me when I played short stop. Isn’t the point to play in the dirt while the other team rounds the bases and the ball lies at your feet? Aren’t you supposed to take 10 minutes to throw the ball back to the pitcher after you missed it ironically playing “catcher” even though you’ve never caught a ball in the 9 previous years of your life but still liked to play catcher because it was like putting on armor? I also never understood why I was always at the end of the batting order, but that’s a different story. Thankfully, my wife doesn’t remember me at all from those days. She remembers literally every single other teammate her brother ever had except for me. I don’t doubt for a second that is the grace of God, because if she remembered me we would have never started dating in the first place.
After that magical encounter across the passover at Steak ‘n Shake, she and I started hanging out and getting to know each other. It might sound cliché, but we actually started out as friends first. Well, she probably started out as friends with me, but I always liked-liked her from the start. Anywho, after several major food fights during dinner service, awkward dinners while I fumbled for things to say, and late nights at Steak ‘n Shake trying to get out of working, our love blossomed. One Sunday night we were at her house watching TV and being silly, I held her hand, looked in her eyes (for real this time), and asked her to go out with me. As barf-inducing as that may be, that was the start of a relationship that has lasted to this day.
We’ve gone through a lot together in the last 12 years, literally through sickness and health, and through richer and poorer, though mostly poorer. There have been times of severe depression and great joy, and I couldn’t ask for a lovelier, more compassionate, giving, strong, wise, talented, gorgeous, encouraging, brilliant woman to share them with. Her smile and her soul brighten the darkness of my despair. She’s my all-time favorite person of all time.
I love you, Jackie. Happy Anniversary!