Today is our 25th wedding anniversary; here is a photo of Beth and me from that day, June 1, 1987. We are both a little worse for the wear, but she still looks to me to be the same woman I married. Somewhere, there is a proverb about a homely man and a beautiful wife. I’ve often joked that we are the personification of that proverb. When I was in my early 20’s, I traveled with a handicapped Christian singer named Jeff Steinberg. Life on the road is lonely, and during those years, I wanted to be married more than anything. Beth is the wife that God gave me.
It’s true, the time goes by quickly. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I’m 52, and I have been married almost half my life, although, it’s virtually all my adult life. The good times seem to go past very quickly; the bad times drag on. We have six children, and I was present at the (conception! and) birth of every one of them. Beth had been in the U.S. Army before we met. At 9/11, she, being a long-time housewife and mother of five, wanted to “do something”. She joined the Army Reserve, thinking that this would not entail overseas duty. At one point she signed a longer re-enlistment, and not a week later, she was “involuntarily transferred” to a unit that was headed to Iraq. That was January 2003.
She served six months in Iraq, from April-October 2003. She was in the 203rd MI BN, the “weapons intelligence” group that was supposed to track down and catalog the “weapons of mass destruction”. There were no WMDs, but she was exposed to plenty of other weaponry, including ordinance and tanks, which contain depleted uranium, and thus a low level of radiation. We can’t prove it, but we think it’s very likely that her exposure, either to DU, or to benzene from (diesel fuel) burning trash and waste, that caused her recent bout with leukemia. Military service and leukemia form the book-ends that have shaped the second half of our 25 years.
In spite of the quickness of it, I’m eager to put these last 10 years behind us. Marriage is a gift; that we seem to have more time is another gift. It is hard to describe the feeling I have. To be sure, it has been difficult. And there is certainly a sense that we want more time together. We have spent far too little time alone, it seems. We’re going to do some of that this weekend, Lord willing.