Take you, Mike, (the man I was head over heels for, who also changed over time, with more education, future ventures gained and lost, with your career change, your zeal, your coffee too strong for me to drink, your daring, your love of softball and your unflinching convictions)
To be my wedded (joined forevermore on legal papers and in my heart) husband.
To have and to hold (that you are mine to share with none other, you whom I keep and treasure above all else and others, to think that you gave yourself to me — how exquisite indeed),
From this day forward (that moment that was monumental, when "I do" and "I will" changed utterly everything afterward, never to be undone),
For better (celebration hospital meals in the presence of a newborn, snow in Mississippi, promotions, honesty whispered in the dark cheek to cheek, Christmas mornings, and your earlobe),
For worse (there's been an accident, you're fired, it's cancer, you'll never understand!, burned pots, stranded and left on the shoulder of the interstate in Atlanta with a van full of youth, throwing a plate, disappointments, almost running out of gas, yelling, costly mistakes),
For richer (I start Monday!, Graduation Day (x2), Disney, automatic transmission and a sun roof, we got the house!, it's a boy followed by a few girls),
For poorer (dorm life, praying to find stray coins behind the back seat of the car for gas money, you're fired, Hudson's Salvage Center, U Haul, Disney),
In sickness (he's in ICU and may not make it through the night, lost in a strange city frantically seeking the hospital parking garage, all night prayer vigils that God will spare him for the sake of a 10 month old, following an ambulance, hospital stink, both of us between the bed rails)
And in health (laps at the seminary campus, around Laurel High School track, and while the toddler watched from the storm door, P90X together in the garage — Bring it!, Jenny Craig, a kitchen cabinet full of whole food supplements),
To love and to cherish (toes that find each other in sleep, speaking volumes without a word, inside jokes like "good morning!", holding hands for no reason in the car)
Til death do us part (only one lifetime?)
And hereto I pledge (as in yes and amen) you my faithfulness (endless dirty dishes and laundry piles notwithstanding).
~ ~ ~ ~
This is what I vowed (and what I now know those vows meant, and what I would do all over again given half a chance.)