I was good at being married, but Eric was better at it. He pushed me to be stronger than I ever thought I could be. He made me talk when the silent treatment was my weapon of choice. He looked at me with an adoration that not every wife gets to enjoy. He pushed me and I calmed him. We brought out the best in each other most days and although some of that refining came by fire, some of it was pure enjoyment.
Was he perfect? Not even close. Neither was I, so it worked out just fine. We were two flawed souls, trying to do the best with the love story we had always imagined. God was gracious to our time together and he brought us just a couple weeks short of 22 years. Some may think that our marriage was cut short, but those were the exact amount of days that God meant it to be. The exact amount of smiles, laughs, conversations, kisses, fights, tears and growth.
A couple months before he died, Eric looked at me and said, "I don't see us growing old together." I quietly agreed and admitted that I had the same feeling. I know it must sound like a terribly sad exchange, but it really wasn't. There was a calmness as we faced the path that we felt we would likely walk. Eric's health really forced us to be grateful for every day. God's preparation of our hearts was then and still is a gift that softens the sadness of separation.
On our 20th anniversary I wrote the passage below. It's still true today.
"God has been good to our story, he has given us just what we needed in order to become the people that He meant us to be. While we once focused on how many chapters He would write for us, we now take time to cherish each page and are thankful for each one that we get to finish."