Happily Ever After……

On October 3rd 1998, I proposed to my girlfriend. I was 18 at the time and not quite the romantic I am today. Beings I didn’t have a car, my mother drove me to the mall to buy an engagement ring. I remember perusing the rings and thinking “I wish I had more money or better credit”. Even at 18, I wanted to impress her. I wanted to make the moment special. The idea was to tape the box to the bottom of the Halloween candy bowl. She would find the ring while passing out candy and I’d be standing there watching. It didn’t quite turn out that way. I buckled under pressure. My happily ever after started with “So do you want to marry me or what?” I know, romantic.

I met the most influential person in my life in front of my parents house. My best friend at the time and I were doing something stupid in the middle of the road. I can’t tell you exactly what we were doing, maybe throwing a football. Who knows? So as we were kids being kids, a blue escort turns down the street and is headed in our direction. This was the 1st time I laid eyes on the love of my life. That’s right, I met my bride on the street! We visited for a while and she continued her jaunt to her boyfriend’s house. At the time her boyfriend lived 2 houses from me. Fate?

On July 22nd, 2000 we gave our vows in front of family and friends. I was shy, timid, and nervous. I remember watching her walk down the aisle with her mother. I’ve been impressed with her beauty and strength ever since. Our wedding wasn’t that of fairy tales. We didn’t have a professional photographer. If memory serves me correctly, I spent $250 on her wedding ring and engagement ring. We didn’t have an immaculate spread of food. All we had was the love for each other and the rest of our lives. We didn’t have a lot of things that you see in weddings all over the country. My bride looked gorgeous in her dress that didn’t cost 4 figures. Our DJ was solid but ended up intoxicated and hitting on several people, including me. Like I said, not a fairytale wedding by any means. Is all that necessary though? 14 years later, here we are.

After our dance, we went home to our trailer house. Of course, I had locked us out. My bride in all her beauty, climbed through the window. From there we reheated some left over pizza and sat on our bed together enjoying our day old pizza. We didn’t board a plane that day and head south. In fact, we never did have a honeymoon. A 20 year old kid at the time, I could barely afford rent, let alone an extravagant trip. Not one time did she make me feel guilty for that. 14 years later our lives our much different now. We own our own home and other things that we value. We have 4 children that we love dearly. We have family and friends that we cherish. We have a dog that most of the time is uptight and a jerk. We’ve certainly had our issues. In fact, we almost didn’t make it to our 1st anniversary. Papers were served and we were both challenged. We made it through, and today we celebrate 14 years together.

In the 14 years we’ve been in marital bliss, we’ve seen friends get married and divorced. We’ve seen acquaintances get married, divorced, married again, and divorced again. It’s harder to stay married these days than it is to get a divorce. My bride and I have been through a lot. I’ve put her through hell with my alcoholism. In the 14 years we’ve been husband and wife, things have changed. Gas has gone up. Presidents have been elected. HDTV was introduced as well the internet. VHS turned into DVD. Tape players were replaced by CDs and CD’s by satellite radio and iPods. The one thing that hasn’t wavered, is our love for each other. Sure, at times I’ve wanted to strangle her but when you spend that amount of time with someone, that’s natural, right?

Today, she is my best friend. I tell her everything. I have no secrets. I do not deceive her. She has seen me at my absolute worse. She stood by me while I was passed out drunk in a hallway. She stood by me when I was struggling to find my sobriety. Today I can say I’m 4+ years sober and no way can I do that without her. Today I watch my bride with my children and I’m blessed to watch her. She is incredible with all 4 of them. Today she supports me in all my softball endeavors. Today she supports me in all life decisions. Today my bride has all my support in everything she does. Today I can say without reservation, that my bride is my inspiration and my rock. Today I love her more than I did 14 years ago or even yesterday. Today I realize how lucky I am to have her.

On July 22nd, 2000 I married my best friend at IC Church in our hometown. The good Lord has blessed me with the most amazing woman. I’m a firm believer in fate as well as everything happens for a reason. I was meant to be on the road that day with my friend. She was meant to turn down that road as opposed to the other side. I was meant to be her husband. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God that she is in my life. Every little girl grows up dreaming of her prince charming giving her a fairytale wedding. I know i didn’t give her a fairy tale wedding. I like to think today I’m her prince charming. I know she’s my queen. I believe that on this planet of ours that there is 1 perfect person for all of us. Some people search their entire lives looking for that 1 special person. I was lucky enough to not only find my perfect someone, but marry her at the ripe old age of 20. I get to live out the rest of my life with the love of my life. Today is our 14 year wedding anniversary and it all seems pretty surreal to me given our complicated past. I’m confident in saying that we will celebrate our 25th anniversary, as well as 50, and perhaps 75. I’m married to my soul mate and the one and only love of my life.

Thank you Audrey for being with me. Thank you Audrey for believing in me when no one else did. Thank you Audrey for being the inspiration behind everything I do. Thank you Audrey for being you. Congratulations to you on your 14 years and if you’ll let me, I plan on spending several more years with you as your husband. My bride says from time to time she’s tired of being referred to as “Mooney’s wife”. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all to be known as “Audrey’s husband” I’m proud to be her husband. I’m proud of where we are today. Thick and thin, good and bad, the constant has been her. It’s always been her and always be her.

The traditional vows go as follows “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Pretty sure we’ve hit all those, most likely a few times. I look forward to growing old with the one person that was chosen for me. Happy anniversary Audrey! I love you and I thank you for keeping this happily ever after going.

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