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Three Years Later.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

September 11 is of course an important day to remember in our nation. But it is also an important day in Joe and my life together because it was September 11, 2016 that we had our first date.

It was a Sunday, so I had gotten up and gone to church with my parents as usual. Later that day, I showered and got ready (wore a blue flowered dress and took a cardigan with me, naturally) and met Joe for lunch at 2 p.m. at Black Sheep Burrito in Huntington. (Old location for people who know what I'm talking about!) Joe was already there when I arrived, and we spent the next few hours sitting together talking, eating tacos, and drinking beer. We also went a for a really nice walk in Ritter Park.

The following year we commemorated our first date (although a couple days early since Joe lived in Georgia, and I still lived in West Virginia) by once again going to Black Sheep and sitting together talking, eating, and drinking beer.

Last year we were married, so for the first time we lived in the same place on September 11, so although we couldn't be at Black Sheep, the day once again found us sitting together talking, eating, and drinking our beer.

Yesterday as you know was September 11. This year was different, though. Although Joe and I were still sitting together and talking, it wasn't at Black Sheep or even at our house. 2 p.m. found us sitting side by side in a surgeon's office, our sweet Bert between us, listening to a doctor talk to us about another of Bert's health issues. In fact, the whole day went by yesterday without either of us acknowledging the anniversary of our first date.

Joe and I around the time of our first date.

On one hand, maybe that's a little bit sad. But on the other hand, isn't this what we're really all hoping for when we go on those first dates? Not to be in doctors' offices with our infants, of course, but I mean to even be sitting there together with a baby at all. Before we go on those first dates I think all -- or at least most -- of us are hoping that we will have finally found our person and that years down the road we may be too busy living our regular, everyday lives together to do more than smile for a moment when we arrive at the anniversary of that first hopeful date, if we even are able to take a moment to remember it at all.

Something else I thought about yesterday is how much life can change in such a short time. If you would have told me on my way to Black Sheep to meet Joe for that first date that we'd be sitting in the first home we bought together with our baby son just three short years later, I don't know if I would have believed you, but here we are. Three years ago I was Anna Lafferre, teaching at Fatima in Huntington, and living in my little apartment with Baby Snicks. Now, I am Anna Kraft, staying at home with my newborn son after teaching at Saint Jude for a year in Atlanta, living in my first home with my husband, son, and two dogs. Things really can change so very quickly.

Joe and I with newborn Bert, three years later. 

The beginning of a relationship is so exciting: getting to know someone, finding out how compatible you are, feeling that magic spark of something special. Those days are beautiful. But there is something magical, too, in the mundane day-to-dayness of life: paying your mortgage, buying the toothpaste, and talking about your worries and fears about a child. It was so fun at the beginning of our relationship when Joe would send me flowers or get me something he thought would help make my life easier. But I would trade all the flowers in the world for the Joe who changes Bert's diapers throughout the night, gets up and goes to work all day for our family, and changes his work schedule on a moment's notice to sit beside me at Bert's doctor appointment.

I once said to my friend Sarah about my friend Story that I felt like I owed Story so much for all she's done for me, but there was no way I could ever repay her. (Incidentally, Sarah, I owe you so much too for all you've done for me!) I made the comment that, "I mean, I keep showing up for Story's plays and things like that ..." And Sarah said those profound words that have continued to stick with me:

YOU KEEP SHOWING UP.

Amen, Sarah. Brilliant. That is how we show people we love them. Joe showed up to our first date fully engaged, never pulling out his phone or otherwise making me feel I wasn't worth his time. And I remember this, whether or not we were able to recall the anniversary of our first date this year. And Joe keeps showing up three years later. That's what real love is. Whether it's a romantic relationship or a friendship or a family relationship -- THAT'S WHAT REAL LOVE IS. You show up, and you keep showing up.

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