(Original published on Friday Night Date Nights)
Hi everyone! I’m Nike from Choose To Thrive and I’m excited to be here on Friday Night Date Night to share some of the story of how me and my husband Ben (or as I like to call him-Peterson) began our story.
It was a Thursday.
I had came home from work at Target and enjoyed dinner and lighting off fireworks in the cul de sac with my mom, brother and sister. An hour later we left for a huge 4th of July fireworks show at the local winery that spilled onto the massive field next door.
And as fate would have it, I ran into a friend from church at the concession stand and wandered over to where some of our friends were hanging out on the opposite side of the massive field. As I sat talking and catching up with friends who were home for the summer from college and missions, I heard and saw someone talking about me out of the corner of my eye. When I finally turned to see who it was, there was this guy – Peterson – who asked me if he’d seen me at church the Sunday before. Over the next hour – and through the entire fireworks show – we talked and laughed and made fun of all those idiot friends we knew who met, dated and married the person of their dreams within months. Dumb, dumb people we laughed. He also told me about the movie Independence Day that had just come out in theatres. I wanted to see it and he happily offered to take me and sit through it again on Saturday… if he could get a phone number out of me. Since this was long before the days of cell phones and texting, we both wandered back to where my family was sitting and borrowed a pen from Mom’s purse. I would learn later that Mom told my Dad that night that she’d met the man I was going to marry and that he needed to get ready, because it would be quick.
And she was right—it was quick. Like July 30th quick. Like less than a month later quick.
And it was a Tuesday.
Peterson picked me up and we stopped by my great grandparents home before heading to our favorite place – Alki Beach. The view of the Seattle skyline at night had spun a particular brand of magic at that place—a place that we had retread to several times to spend quiet time talking about what life would be like together.
And on that beach we had laughed and joked, cried and argued, made up and held each other close. And on that Tuesday as the was sun lingering on the horizon … I sat in the sand wrapped in Peterson’s arms … and watched the sea roll in and break against the shore … and felt the warmth and protection as his arms pulled me in closer … and heard him whisper how much he loved me and never wanted that to end … and that his dreams of a life and family and future where in me.
But school and work and family schedules would mean that a wedding couldn’t happen right away. And so a few weeks after getting engaged, I drove away from Peterson on a Friday morning in tears and headed back to school. Soon after he would send me this picture of him standing alone where we had met. The back of the picture read simply, “Imagine Fireworks.”
Waiting for our day was long and painful; we ached to be together and struggled through the stress of being apart. By that Friday in February 1997, we were ready to crack and even called off the wedding … and spent a week totally alone … and then met the next Friday night – Valentine’s Day – to see if we could work everything out. And in a quiet, candle-lit room, we talked and cried and forgave and promised and moved forward united. When I think back on that night, I smile and remember what almost wasn’t and give thanks for what was. Because ten years later to the day, we spent a Wednesday night in another quiet, dimly lit room holding our fifth child after an emergency c-section during what should have been our Valentine’s Day dinner.
But Saturday … oh how I loved that Saturday.
That crazy Saturday after Thanksgiving when we drove to the Seattle Temple under threatening skies and a brisk wind. And in the largest sealing room they had, we promised forever in front of our family and friends. And as everyone left room 11 and started for the lobby, Peterson and I ducked into the back stair well … and paused in between floors … and told each other privately just as we had at Alki Beach how much we loved each other and never wanted it to end … and that all of our dreams for a life and family and future were together. As we left the temple, there would be no beautiful pictures on the grounds that we could frame and look back on and remember. All we managed were just a few quick pictures under the covered entry before we raced through sleet, rain and wind towards cars that would take us to the reception. But even with no real pictures and crummy weather, it was such a beautiful day.
The funny thing is that I remember thinking that I could never love Peterson more than I did on our wedding day.
How wrong I was.
Because that love got bigger the night my husband held me close as my body shook with sobs after I miscarried. And I loved him more still when we went through it again six months later. And then a third time still. And every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day that passed childless brought us closer together until that Wednesday in 2001 when my husband became a father.
And I fell in love with him all over again each time he stood beside my hospital bed and held my hand as each of our six children arrived.
And I loved him more as he’s stood by me during the last fourteen years and been my biggest fan and cheerleader. He supports my crazy ideas and grand plans even when I fail. I feel so blessed to be loved by a man who sees me as smart, capable and beautiful even when I don’t believe it myself.
And that love has only grown since that Friday in 2009 following a layoff when I left for work and he stayed home with our kids. I will never know how hard it was for him to be out of work and not able to support his family, but the way he handled those six months taught me so much about love, dignity, honor, duty and respect. He chose to thrive and move forward in a place he never thought he’d be. And talk about thriving … Peterson came out the backside of our layoff adventure with two degrees, a new-found talent for artisan baking and the love of his children who got a rare chance to spend that much extra time with Daddy.
And now? I am reminded of how much I love him still … just like I was last Monday when I surprised him for lunch … and we parked our Suburban in front of his office and munched on drive through chicken strips … and talked about new flooring in the kitchen and the kids’ report cards … and goofed off with the camera while the little kids polished off our drinks in the back seat. Man I love this guy.
Good days and bad, struggles and joys … I feel lucky and happy to spend everyday with Peterson.