Today marks 25 years since I met Max. This week, we are celebrating a milestone- our silver anniversary. As most people do, we have been through a wide variety of experiences and emotions and relationship wrinkles since we met 25 years ago. While I would not have imagined the life I have now with him at the time I met him, I knew there was something special and fated between us from the first time we met. The past 25 years have been precious. He is one of the greatest gifts and blessings of my life.
Twenty-five years are made up of many, many moments that weave together to create a shared life. There are so many moments that shine like silver in my heart that I cannot possibly relate all of them. In honor of our 25th anniversary, however, I would like to share 25 “especially special” moments. They are our silver moments.
- The night I met Max, I was doing homework assigned by my dating coach. Yes, I was so determined to find a healthy relationship, I actually paid for private dating lessons. My coach suggested that I attend what I lovingly call the “pudgy people’s dance.” A local organization dedicated to chubby chicks and chub-chasing men offered regular dance parties to allow those of us with a few (okay, maybe more than a few) extra pounds to mix and mingle. Now, I was not at the weight class that would interest reality television, but I certainly was (and still am) more to love. For the first time in my life, I was extremely popular that night. When Max first asked me to dance, there was an immediate, organic attraction on every level. I never experienced anything like it. In retrospect, it was like some part of me knew that there was something wonderful and lasting between us. I remember how he looked. I remember what I wore. I remember how his arms and chest felt when he danced with me. I remember how he made me feel.
- When Max first came to my home, my dog, Luci, was extremely excited. Truthfully, she was not the most discerning of creatures. She pretty much loved everyone. However, the way Max reacted to her showed me how special he is. Every time he visited, he brought her treats. When we sat snuggled together on the couch, Luci would often jump up and squeeze herself in between us. Max was never annoyed. He laughed. I think he found it charming.
- About a month after we met, I asked Max to come over for Christmas Eve dinner. He brought a boy teddy bear and a girl teddy bear. He told me their names were MaxBear and TerriBear. In the years that followed, Max bought me many beautiful gifts. Many were much more expensive than MaxBear and TerriBear, but none are more valuable. They moved with us to Florida and still snuggle up together every day.
- Max took me to meet his family a week or so after our first Christmas together. This was significant because his father was struggling through his last days of life. He would lose his battle with cancer just a few days later. Max thanked me for supporting him during this time. I thanked him for doing me the honor of including me in his family circle. He told me that he remembered me saying at one point that it bothered me that my last boyfriend never introduced me to his family, even after several years of dating. He did not want to hurt me in that way.
- Max and I went dancing often in the first few years of our relationship. He flew me around the dance floor with skill and passion. Dancing was important to him and he created a partnership with me. People even applauded when we danced together.
- Max and I would often snuggle together with the lights off, watching old movies on the second floor of his house. It was always cool, if not cold, in his house. It felt intimate and cozy to share the space- filling it with our warm hearts.
- It took Max a long time to decide to cohabitate. He was sure that he would do something to undermine the relationship if we were together all the time. Even once we did agree to move in together, he tested the waters to make sure that it was going to be okay. About two weeks before he was supposed to move in, he got angry over something to do with the tv remote control and threw it across the room. It seemed so transparently a contrived act to see how I would react, I almost laughed. Since then, I believe he has only thrown one other thing across the room- his work cell phone. I was also ready to pitch the darn thing.
- Max introduced me to luxury. Neither of us has a lot of money. Both of us have lived through hard financial times. Neither of us are spendthrifts. Max introduced me, however, to the idea of up-spending for the sake of getting something more lush or upscale than necessary. He buys me nice handbags. He buys me blankets made of luxury fabrics. We stay in large, comfortable, upscale lodgings when we travel. He bought me some Chanel #5. All of these are occasional treats. They do not interfere with our financial stability or charitable giving. I do not think I ever would have gone beyond Walmart handbags, cotton throws, value resort rooms, or Bath and Body Works scent except for him.
- From the day Max moved in, we were living in a different vibe. It was instant family.
- Max indulged me by going to Disney World with me for the first time in 2003. He was a real trouper all throughout our six-day forced march through the humidity across the World. He made several more trips with me. He understood the importance of being close to Disney when deciding where to move in retirement. When asked what his favorite thing about Disney is, he says that he enjoys it, but that his very favorite thing is how happy it makes me.
- The night my father had his sudden fatal heart attack, Max stayed on the phone with me throughout my 70-mile drive to go see him before he died.
- Max wrote me a love poem once.
- Max picks beautiful, sentimental greeting cards for all occasions and he remembers all our milestone dates.
- When my Luci went to doggie heaven, Max took care of the process after she slipped away and, when it was all over, spooned next to me on the bed and held me while I cried out my grief.
- Max paid storage fees for years while we were living together in California because he did not want me to feel like I had to get rid of anything I wanted to keep just to make room for him. Several times, I suggested we would not need the storage or the amount of storage if I just tossed the things I had not touched for months or years. Every time, Max demurred, insisted he wanted me to be comfortable.
- Max was first in line to buy the debut copy of each book I published.
- For years, Max lugged boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations from and to the storage building, up and down two flights of stairs, just because he knew I loved Christmas.
- Max constantly tells me I am perfect. I know I am not perfect, but he makes me believe I am perfect for him.
- During our first trip to Hawaii together, Max strove to provide a romantic experience for me. The first time I ever went to Hawaii, I went by myself. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful place in the world, the most romantic place in the world, and the loneliest place in the world if one was without a mate. Our real version of the romantic Hawaii experience was not the same as my fantasy, but it was still very romantic. We laughed and relaxed and shed our adult personas. My favorite bracelet is still the Hawaiian heirloom gold bracelet he bought me on that trip to commemorate our romance.
- While I was journeying with my mother during the last, broken year of her life, Max made a concerted effort every day, all the time, to say and do the right things to help and support me. He did not find the right thing every time. In fact, there were times when there was no right thing. Most of the time, he did find the right note. It was the fact that he was trying so hard and so consistently that made the moments silver for me.
- We converse in movie quotes (“You people don’t deserve a good king like me”), inside jokes (how old are you? I’m free), pet names (Little Bear), and little rituals (playing elf on the shelf, bouncing on beds) as part of our everyday life together. These are things that make sense to only the two of us and they are things that enrich our couplehood.
- On one of the rare occasions when Max and I disagreed over a big issue, I was uncomfortable and sad that we were on different pages. When I expressed to him that I felt so awkward and awful about the state of affairs that it was hard for me to even talk about it, he reassured me, saying that disagreement did not discount love and the fact that we disagreed did not mean that he did not love me.
- Max regularly cuddles me, rubs my back, and scratches my neck until I purr like a kitten.
- Max often looks at me with a warmth and awe that seems to say, “I cannot believe I am lucky enough to see you every day.”
- Max and I read devotionals and pray together daily. We worship together in online services and he has started attending my church with me once a month.
There are many, many more moments like these. Even these “moments” really represent more than moments; they constitute whole galaxies of instances that weave together to support our love. These are just some of our silver moments. In fact, they are not just silver moments. They are silver moments trimmed with gold, wrapped up with a platinum ribbon.
Happy Anniversary, my love…
From the luckiest bear in the world!