Our garden tells the story. Our bright yellow shed. The way we approach each new spring. How we laugh together.
It’s been seven years of marriage.
We wear our ugly crocs and go out in the garden in the evening after our children go to bed. He waters. I trim roses. We admire our tiny bursting sunflowers every day. In awe at how they’ve grown.
We walk on the garden path of stones, almost completed. I pick up our little boy’s toys all over the garden. Our two plastic hand-me-down chairs sit side by side tilted on the grassy hillside. We make plans for the rose bed. Note the new growth on our daughter’s rose bush. It’s a story we’re living in exploding color.
And I celebrate seven years with the poem I wrote for Hope Gives a Eulogy. Because this story which the garden tells and our laughter accompanies, began years ago when in our earlier youth we stumbled through the graveyard, harsh reality nipping at our heels.
From the grave the garden grew and our love deeper with it.
Happy people live here.
Bright yellow, light blue,
Big parties, belly laughter,
And year-round Christmas lights.
Happy people live here
Even after the music box
Abruptly changed its tune.
Happy people live here.
Making up magic and merriness,
Composing a new anthem
For easily missed things
Too big to fit in a box.
Happy people, the happiest
They gave a backbone to
While harsh realities nipped at our heels we cultivated life with our fingertips. Side by side. Until the bright yellow on the walls became the bright yellow in our laughter and the music box got swallowed by the music of a garden that keeps on growing.
We pass through the garden gate made of splintered scraps of wood, and close it for the night. We walk by the sunflowers, step into our home, children sleeping soundly.
Indeed, it has been happy.
A grave. A garden. A dying, living, growing thing.
While he technically asked to write me letters in late July (we didnt know each other at all save for being distant acquaintances), we had a face-to-face conversation for the first time about those getting-to-know-you letters on August 03, 2013 and our son was due late July but born August 02, 2020.
We celebrate 6 whole years of marriage today. And what a gift to say it, to have experienced it, to have lived these years with each other. We kept our wedding decor simple relying on the desert to speak for itself.
I’m not sure everyone agreed with me on not adding any flowers or billowing drapes on our rustic arbor, but Ben and I wanted the arbor to remain as it was. Our wedding arbor was made from Athel tree branches and put together by my Dad, brother, and husband-to-be. I love how it turned out.
It still stands to this day in my family’s backyard right where we stood in May 2015, saying our vows, and laughing at the wind blowing our ribbons everywhere.
Almost every time, we trekked back home for a wedding, graduation, or Christmas, I’d drag Ben out to get a picuture under our wedding arbor.
As long as it’s still standing, that’s probably in our travel itinerary when home.
To celebrate 6 whole years married to my best friend, I’m sharing those pictures and little snippets of life from our life together.
This was May 2016.
We are a year into our marriage, still growing together, learning how to really share ourselves and be vulnerable, living a quiet life, and establishing where we wanted to be as a family. It was a simple year in many ways and one we desperately needed. It’s also one we look back on fondly. Except for the terrible septic problems we faced in that cute little trailer we painted and redid together. Ha!!
This was May 2017.
We were now two years into marriage, and 2017 marked one of our hardest years to date.
I remember sitting in the passenger seat in our truck and finally admitting to Ben,
This has been a hard year.
And it was.
I was coming to terms with infertility, still desperately wanting a baby, in the extraordinary pain of silence, not knowing much at all, and facing the painful reality head-on. On top of all that were other life circumstances and friendships that were strained.
This was the December right before 2018 when things slowly and surely began to change for the better.
Healing was happening in my soul. I was learning how to grieve with God. Infertility was still terrible and isolating, but it wasn’t as daunting. Our marriage was coming out of the fog, and we were learning how to live with grief.
We were uncovering how good it was to have this time together. We were laughing more. I was growing a garden. Baby goats would come the following spring. We were settling into our life as it was. We made up Birthday Observation Day, hosted our first Thanksgiving (which has since become one of our favorite things ever). I was writing about infertility via email and discovering how similar so many women were feeling even without infertility being the cause.
I have no picture under the wedding arbor for 2019, although we did travel down for an August wedding.
I was definitely not pregnant which was no suprise by now. I felt sad, but I was also feeling more settled into our life. But I still had that deep ache of longing.
In November of 2019, we had all but closed the door on children except for the possibility of fostering/adopting older kids when we were older ourselves. In the meantime, we decided to open our home more and just really love and serve the people around us. It was the first time in years I was excited about our future. I felt like I could dream again.
Then a week and a half later, I took a pregnancy test, expecting nothing, but ended up laughing.
Because there was Shasta. In two little lines.
Our old future and our old dreams turned into a yes. I’ve written it the best way I know how through poetry in my book, Hope Gives a Eulogy.
But I’m careful when I tell this story, because I hadn’t arrived or met some “contentment/spiritual quoata” that unlocked pregnancy. Yikes, no!
My prayers were up and down. I’d still feel the hollow gut feeling late at night as I thought of her getting pregnant before me. Literally fearing the grief, pain, and struggle that would undoubtedly come sooner than later. I still wanted to have a child with Ben. I knew sadness was still a part of my reality. I still felt it. And I KNOW if I hadn’t gotten pregnant when I did, I’d fall deep into sorrow again. (Maybe still will? I’m not promissed a second baby!)
I’m not sure how everything works together in God’s sovereignty, but I trust Him. And I’ve felt His love and kindness in pregnancy + motherhood and in infertility. I’ve also been immeasurably blessed in all of these seasons. Like I cannot explain the deep gifts I received from God as I grieved in those long years of infertility. Cannot explain it.
His precense is everything.
But once pregnant, I didn’t face the constant grief cycle, and eventually had the mental energy to be creative and write poetry again. It is not lost on me that while a child grew in me, I returned to my childhood love for writing poetry. I think God does the most beautiful things. We finished 2019 with a baby growing in me and you can read that story in Hope Gives a Eulogy.
So, this was Christmas 2020.
Our son has brought with him such a golden era. His life ushered a light-heartedness in mine I had not truly felt in years. Joy, yes. Hope, yes. Love for life, yes. But real and true light-heartedness that fills you up only to spill out because you can’t help it? No. The grieiving process every month is exhasuting, depleting, and doesn’t allow lightheartedness easily.
But there he was with a passel of lightheartedness. Can’t you tell?! 🙂
So, in our 6th year of marriage, I wrote poetry about infertility and our love story. We finally held our son in our arms and embraced parenthood together. We’ve had hard conversations and we’ve woken up smiling listening to the chatter of our boy. We’ve laughed and made our son laugh. We have loved and grown in love.
When I sit in the passenger seat now, I’ll turn to Ben and say,