December 7th 1991. I was 17 and a half years old. So young. Too young. And no, we didn’t have to get married. But he had joined the military, and was going to be 3000 miles away, and I couldn’t imagine not going with him. I loved him.
I couldn’t get out of bed. My body ached. When I would try to get up I’d lay right back down, because I just felt so heavy. Get up Amy. You have to get up. It’s your wedding day.
Something was wrong.
My face is so hot. I’m dizzy. I can’t make it across the room without having to sit down.
My parents called their sweet friend and probably one of the most interesting people in the world, Dr. Slade, and he said to bring me right over.
A few minutes later, I’m sitting on his exam table and he is telling me, “You have the flu. I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s going to be a wedding today. You’re very sick.”
The flu. On my wedding day? Of all the days?
No. Flu or no flu, it’s too late to cancel this wedding. I’m getting married today.
And so I pulled myself together, put on my huge white dress,(it was 1991 after all.. the dress AND the hair HAD to be huge!) and I got married. With a fever of 102.
To look at me you would never had known it. I made it through the ceremony, and the reception. Right up until it was time to feed each other the cake and drink the punch. Suddenly, it hits me like a ton of bricks. I’m pale as a ghost. I look at Jeff and say I think it’s time for us to go.
So we get in the limo, and make it about a mile when I look at the driver and say..”Home! I need you to get me home now!”
The nausea had set in.
We pull up, and I jump from the car trying to unbutton the dress, screaming “get it off of me, I don’t want to ruin the dress!”
And so instead of heading off to our planned Honeymoon at Disney World, I spent the night in misery, while poor Jeff spent our first night as husband and wife holding my hair back when I’d get sick and wiping my face down with cold cloths to try and bring my fever down.
It was not the wedding day and night we had dreamed of. But seeing him take care of me so selflessly, never complaining, just being so tender and sweet, I knew why I married him.
That was 25 years ago.
Over those 25 years, things weren’t always that tender and sweet. We had some rough patches, for sure. But divorce was never an option. Except for that one time last year when it was.
But I decided not to take that option.
And so we’ve spent the last year not restoring our marriage, but rebuilding it. From the ground up.
We pressed through the hardest year of our lives. We pressed in with God. We let the people surrounding us build us up and we leaned on them when we couldn’t carry this load ourselves.
And today, we have a marriage that’s so much better than we had before. We had to walk through what sometimes felt like literal hell on earth to get to where we are. But I can look back now and say that I am truly so thankful. Not that he had an affair. But for all the goodness God has brought us from the most awful situation. For the sweetness of His presence. For the way He went before us and set in place every person and every thing we would need to get us through it. For the way He has made every ounce of pain and every single tear count for His kingdom. For the opportunity to share His infinite goodness with the world. For the amazing husband and man that Jeff has become. For the opportunities and blessings that He has poured out and continues to pour out on us.
For the family and friends that stuck by us through it all, and the new friends that we never would have known if none of this had happened.
Last year, I had just decided to let him move home and see if we could make this work not long before our anniversary and I was still in so much pain. I really didn’t want to celebrate our anniversary. How could I celebrate a day that represented the day we took our vows, the ones he broke? Did all those years really even count anymore?
But this year, this year was different. This year I was excited. And we had a great anniversary date last weekend.
Then tonight I got to share my heart and our story at our Wednesday night church service. I’m so grateful that he is ok with being so transparent and supportive in sharing our story. It’s not a story he’s particularly proud of his part in and hearing me tell it is not easy for him. I do not take his willingness to be so open with it for granted.
For all intensive purposes, we shouldn’t have an anniversary to celebrate anymore. But here we are. A year later. And we survived. We not only survived but we have so much more. More of everything. More of all the good stuff. More goodness than I ever could have imagined. I was certain a year ago that I’d never be able to look at Jeff and not see what he had done to me. What he had done to us.
But today, I look at him and I don’t see what he did anymore. I look at him and I don’t see her anymore. I look at him and I don’t see the pain anymore.
When I look at him now, I see goodness. I see the goodness inside of him. I see the way he looks at me now. I see the way he loves me with his whole heart. I see the beautiful transparency of his heart. I see the way he looks for the good in everyone. I see his desire to be the man God says he is.
This year, my heart is full. Full of love. Full of joy. Full of gratitude.
Happy Anniversary, Jeff. I’m thankful for you, for the man you are becoming, for the way you love me so well, for second chances and new beginnings. And I can’t wait to see all the goodness in store for us in the years to come. ❤️
Amy Thurston Gordy