12-year gift: Fireflies

Fourteen months ago, my wife and I bought this home. It had its flaws. It had its places it could be improved. It’s a slow and sometimes frustrating process turning someone else’s house into your home. It’s a work that is both in-progress and one that I know will never end.

Among the larger projects is the back yard, a sizable tract of land with just about every kind of tree and bush you could imagine. The back of the property is lined with 50-foot Leyland cypress trees, a couple of smaller magnolias, and some bushy cherry trees. There’s an arbor and yard swing that’s overgrown and looks like a misshapen green Fraggle. It’s a line that separates us from the rest of the world, a feature that has no price for me.

Nine days ago, my wife and I sat on our rickety deck at dusk and sipped a cocktail. As night fell and our security lights clicked off, the tree line lit up in an patternless series of light yellow blinks. Hundreds of them appeared and disappeared randomly in the big trees. Occasionally, one of the fireflies–lightning bugs as I called them as a kid–would slip out into the yard and flitter around the sky before returning to the trees. It was a light show better than any I’ve seen at any concert. And it belonged to only us.

When we bought this house, the real estate agent pointed out the big trees and said, “Those will sort of act as a natural buffer against street noise.”

I believed him, and didn’t think a lot more about the trees until this past week. My wife and I spent half of the past nine nights sitting on the deck watching the fireflies blink on, blink off, and blink on again. We sat. We whispered. We laughed. We drank. We laughed more. We kissed. We watched until our eyes wouldn’t stay open anymore.

Twelve years ago today, I pledged my heart and the rest of my life to the same woman–a smart, professional, gorgeous, fun, driven 20-something I wanted more than anything ever before. In the 12 years since, all of the things that made me love her have remained. Through the process of having two kids, dealing with a difficult husband, and enduring a weird career, she has persevered, but not without some changes.

Over the past couple of weeks, as we reconnected under the firefly light, I’ve further realized how lucky I’ve been. Not every man is so fortunate to see his wife and life change in front of him and have it turn out to be so perfect.

Sometimes you make a commitment. You dedicate yourself to an idea, a project, a concept, a house, or a person. That dedication comes necessarily with sincerity and love. It proves to be everything you ever wanted. Over time the sincerity, love, and dedication change, and you realize that the thing you wanted so much has changed, too. And if you’re lucky like me, it’s changed in a way that made it more beautiful than you ever imagined it could be.

Today, I have a yard full of fireflies and a beautiful wife of 12 years as proof.