Nine years

June 3, 2000 was a steamer.

We stood on the Eastern Continental Divide and looked out over North Carolina. We couldn’t deny it was uncomfortably hot. I was dressed in a monkey suit. My bride-to-be wore a clingy wedding dress. She would nearly faint from the heat. I simply soaked through a couple of shirts while swatting at a bee that was obviously divorced and opposed to the institution of marriage.

weddingIn the pews of the small outdoor chapel on the North and South Carolina border sat our friends. They had come from all over the place, ridden all the way up the mountain, and chosen to sit in the heat while we said our vows. The ceremony barely lasted 15 minutes, but the duration didn’t really matter. Nine years later, I am still in awe of my love for my wife and how my friends have stuck around to share it with us.

Unless you’re just tuning in, you know that we just spent the past few days in the hospital with our three-week old son. Monday morning the doctors weren’t sure if the kid had a deadly infection. Just in case, they put him in the Greenville Children’s Hospital on a pretty heavy regimen of antibiotics. This story ended much better than it could’ve. We got very lucky and were fortunate enough to get out of the hospital today. By 4pm, we were home and on the road to good health.

Today is our ninth wedding anniversary. We spent much of it in the hospital and will spend the rest of it recovering from a fairly stressful few days. We’ll skip the vacation we keep planning to take. We’ll find a babysitter for a date night some other month. I’ll make her a nice dinner in a few days. Tonight, we’ll eat a grocery store rotisserie chicken and be pretty damned happy and thankful that our lives have turned out so well. We will count our uncountable blessings as one–that we have the best friends and family a couple could want.

I was struck over the past 48 hours by how unsettling, offputting, and downright scary something like an infant’s illness can be. Moreover, I was moved by how some of my friends have had to endure the real thing for weeks, months, and years. We have family and friends who have had to stand by their children during chemotherapy, heart surgery, and even death. I can’t imagine how they have coped. I respected them all before, but they are now heroes in my eyes.

As one friend and fellow parent said this morning, “I assume that you have aged four years in four days.”

It’s true. Running a country can turn a President’s hair gray, but parenting is the real factor behind premature aging.

If you look at the post below this one, you will see 27 comments from people wishing us well. That’s a fraction of the people who got in touch via the internet, e-mail, phone, text, et cetera offering their support, help, and love. It’s humbling, heartwarming, and fantastic. There is no way to express how tremendous it is to be so loved. One of the great testaments to our marriage’s success is that there are so many people who care for our family so much.

I’ve never doubted my love for my wife. She keeps me anchored when I’m restless, buoyed when I’m flailing, and running when I’m lazy. She is my partner, inspiration, and reason.

This June 3 is a steamer, too. It’s sticky and hot outside. This time, we are nine years older. I’m graying. My wife insists she has crows’ feet. We have two kids, a nearly blind mutt, and what I like to think is an enviable life. Our friends and family make a great life just about perfect.

I am a restless guy. I’m listless, day-dreamy, and aimlessly ambitious. Those traits often make me seem like I don’t appreciate what I have or like I won’t be satisfied until I have more. Make no mistake, if you told me today I could have no more than I have right now, I would kiss you and say thanks.

This life is a good one.

Happy anniversary, babe.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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11 Responses

  1. Betty says:

    You bring a lot to the lives of others, as well. You and your wife have supported and inspired me and I know there are others who would say the same thing.

    I suspect that karma is alive and well on Mt. Otis.

  2. AgSweep says:

    Happy Anniversary Otis and Ms. Otis. I have two pieces of good news. 1. Your rapid aging process will slow down remarkably in about 18 years. 2. I know for a fact it is possible to feel the same about each other as you feel today at 30 years in, actually, it gets better.

  3. Dr. Chako says:

    Mazel tov.

    -DrC

    PS. I’m totally starting a rock band called Aimlessly Ambitious.

  4. Strawberry Shortcake says:

    man I love you guys…and alls I got was a weekend at a music festy…ya’ll never cease to inspire me! much love!

  5. Jon Katkin says:

    Happy anniversary Otis. Glad to hear Dos gave you a good present.

  6. KenP says:

    Well Doc had us all beat for today’s blogging with:
    http://pokerdoctor.blogspot.com/2009/06/biggest-cash.html

    But, I have to move the award and song over to DOS.

    Let the drums roll out
    Let the trumpet call
    While the people shout
    “Strike up the band”

  7. Flora says:

    First of all, happy aniversary! I love the photo!
    And Wow! We almost lost our daughter last fall due to a rare & extremely severe case of ITP. I can just imagine what kind of stress you guys were under. Isabelle has recovered well and I’m sure your little one will soon too. Many blessings! Send my best wishes to Michelle!

  8. Mean Gene says:

    Happy Anniversary, and extremely glad to hear the good news.

  9. OhCaptain says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    (Also really glad to hear the good news!)

  10. Skip says:

    Happy Anniversary, my friend, and indeed you are blessed. I remember your wedding weekend, the busses up the hill with no AC, the reception running dry with your dad swooping to the rescue with cases from the hotel bar, nearly breaking the table with a last “Devil…Georgia” pounding… good times. And many more to you and yours.

  11. Da Goddess says:

    Happy 9th! And congratulations on Dos coming home.

    May I suggest AC and fans for relief from the sticky heat? And that “roastery” chicken (as my son calls it) has been known to cure whatever else ails you.

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