Our fifteen year anniversary was terribly romantic. We ate leftover lasagna, drove carpools and hosted a house full of girls primping for the school disco before settling in with a movie on the laptop under the electric blanket. Earlier in the day Ryder and I also surprised the stud muffin at work with some muffins, and he had arranged for my Julie friend to babysit while we snuck out for a little lunch date. Shortly before we were going to leave we received some heart breaking news that a dear sister in our ward had a heart attack and passed away. Moving so far away from family and friends can be a scary thing, but Shirley's warm embrace and kiss on the cheek that first Sunday put all my fears to rest. We would be loved. I counted myself lucky to be assigned as her visiting teaching companion. She loved all five of the sisters we visited, it was not just a numbers game for her. Even when one of our sisters asked to have her name removed from the church records she still insisted we visit her because she loved her. She suffered from severe arthritis but whenever I could tell she was in pain, she would always respond with a smile on her face, "never mind me, dear". She always called me "dear" and started every text with "hello dear". She served and loved unconditionally and I consider myself blessed that I had the opportunity to get to know her and have her in my life. Julie was understandably devastated by the news, so of course we cancelled our lunch plans and instead sat eating our grilled cheese sandwiches alternating between trying to not be too sullen on our anniversary or too jovial after the death of a sweet friend. We also got engaged on the same day as the Columbine shootings. It's a good thing I'm not superstitious. Our actual anniversary was more or less just a normal day, but we've booked a bungalow on a private island in fiji for October to really celebrate, so don't feel too bad for us. But it's these "normal" days that we'll look back on fifteen years from now with fond memories. Chopping bok choy and singing Sara Bareilles while Kylie sits on the kitchen counter taking selfies. Maddox making duck beaks out of bread slices while Jason referees wrestling matches. Just like I look back with fondness on our life fifteen years ago. Special occasions called for chicken breasts smothered in a McCormick gravy mix or the Sizzler buffet. I took great care decorating our little apartment, wrapping artificial ivy around our floor lamp and decorating the shelves of our hand me down entertainment center with silk flowers. And a heart shaped frame with a picture of us at Magic Mountain. All of our furniture was laminate wood, mostly Shopko specials. The only artwork on our walls were a framed Vegas caricature and snowboarding posters. Our toilet seat had one of those fuzzy seat covers. All the old married people I knew had one, so I thought it was standard protocol. Jason ripped the "no soliciting" sign off our front door after he got a job selling cell phones door to door. We had matching Skechers boots. Date nights consisted of dollar movies, the Grilled Pepper, tennis and homemade milkshakes. Sundays consisted of 3 hour naps after church, long motorcycle rides in the canyon and Rook game nights with our newly wed neighbors. He taught me how to snowboard and wakeboard and took me to Disneyland for my first time. You know what, it was a pretty good way to start this life together. And it just keeps getting better. Spending the past fifteen years by your side has been a good place to be. Love you, Jay!
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