Hello again my sweet husband, my partner, my best friend.  You know, we’ve been using the term “partner” for so long, I stopped thinking about its meaning.  Lately, though, it’s been on my mind more and more.  As I reflect on a term we’ve used countless times in our relationship, I’m struck by all the unique ways we’ve come to define “partner” in our marriage.  We’ve added layers of substance to a term with a pretty simplistic meaning.  We’ve changed it to fit our very own love language.

Partner, the person by my side on those long runs we’ve always enjoyed taking together.  I remember our very first run on a trail near each of our apartments.  It was the same trail I used to see you on when I’d take my dogs for a walk.  The memory of you running always stayed with me because it’s not often one sees a big, muscular man like you running so effortlessly.  Later, when we started dating, I shared those memories with you.  I wasn’t on your radar then; you had no memories of me and my two dogs. You ran alone, focused on your destination.  I walked alone, focused on my past, still healing from a deep hurt.  God wasn’t ready to bring us together just yet, but He began the work of bringing your world into mine and my world into yours.  My future husband, your future wife, passing each other, going opposite directions, feet apart, unaware God’s plan had been set into motion.

Yes, there was a nostalgic element to that first run, for sure.  I remember I started strong, being used to running three to three and a half miles pretty easily.  You were used to five, so we compromised and went for four miles on that first run as a pair, as partners.  Eventually, we worked our way up to six.  At some point during one of our runs, you reached over and took my hand in yours and said, “I love you partner.”  I said, “I love you, too, partner,” and I held on to your hand for a little while. After that, it became our thing.  You take my hand at some point during every run, and we repeat those same words.  As we run, our hands joined together, our steps synchronized, we are one.  We are partners.

Partner, the person by my side during the ups and downs of life.  When we took our vows, we promised to love each other through better and through worse, through sickness and through health.  I believe the beauty of a true partnership exists in each person’s willingness to sometimes let the other person lead.  It’s like the tide.  It’s an ebb and flow.  It’s fluid and organic and free.  When I’m down, I relinquish the reigns for a while, with complete trust in where you’ll lead our family.  You step forward as I slow down and fall back a bit, taking refuge in your shadow.

After Daddy’s cancer returned, you became both Mama and Daddy to our babies.  You gave me an invaluable gift:  time.  I didn’t have to think about anything; I didn’t have to do anything; you did it all.  While you kept our little family going, I was able to step away for a bit.  While you played outside with the kids, I sat by my Daddy’s bed and held his hand.  While you woke up in the middle of the night to feed our three month old baby, I kept the night vigil by my Daddy’s side.  While you made our little ones breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I kissed Daddy’s forehead and told him over and over how much I loved him.  While you bathed our babies and tucked them into bed, I watched my dad take his last breath on this side of Heaven.  When I returned to you, broken and weak, you held me up.  You supported me as I regained my strength.  And when I was ready, I stepped out of your shadow and back into the void by your side.  You put your arm around my shoulder, and we resumed our walk, side-by-side.  Partners again.

Partner, the person kneeling by my side in prayer.  Partner, the person by my side raising our children. Partner, the person by my side cheering the loudest.  Partner, the person by my side helping to chase every dream.

We are partners.  We share a path, a destination; we stride to the finish line together.  Hand-in-hand. Partners to the very end.     

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