Written By: Tammy Fox
Our love story is one that spans almost 20 years but yet it seems somewhere between yesterday and forever. I can remember clearly the first time I saw him in a crowded room as he passed by my table. He was wearing a light brown suede jacket with patches from across the globe signalling a well travelled man. In our military town that meant one thing to me and as I correctly guessed, he was a Navy boy. I remember being smitten from the first sight of his dimpled smile. But it wasn’t until several months later that we would actually have our first conversation. I remember that night clearly as well.
We talked for hours as we sat in the cold November night in his baby blue 1987 Chevy S-10 pickup truck. I remember that he smoked Marlboro cigarettes in the red pack and drank Mountain Dew like it was water. I remember that he smelled like Eternity cologne and a hint of smoke. I remember that the first night he kissed me at my door, it was soft and sweet and not at all what I had experienced before. This one was different. He wasn’t after the one thing most boys were looking for but seemed to genuinely enjoy talking and laughing with me.
From our first date he wanted to introduce me to those he was closest to, as if it were already somehow unspoken that we would share our lives together. This tall, thin, somewhat awkward boy with the dimples and gorgeous blue eyes was full of secrets and hurt and rejection and even anger. As his story unfolded and he opened up to me, sharing things he had never told anyone else, I knew that all I wanted to do in this world was to take his pain away and to love him. It wasn’t all easy for him either. I had plenty of expectations and my own baggage. You could say we were beautifully broken from the beginning.
At one point very early in our relationship, we were at a difficult crossroads. There was a moment that I could have walked away and went down an entirely different road. I cried out to God for direction and I heard the Lord’s voice more clearly than I ever had at that point. The Lord told me to love him…just love him…He would take care of the rest. And that is what I did. I loved him. After only a few short months, Troy and I were engaged to be married.
The odds were stacked against us in many ways. He was older, our backgrounds were very different, and it seemed that we had plenty of people who did not think we would make it and, well, to be honest there were times that we were not sure we would make it either.
The first few years were your typical newlywed years I suppose. Financial issues, adjustments of living together, and within the first year, a difficult pregnancy. Our first child, a baby girl, was born just shy of 18 months into our marriage. She was the light of our lives. The 24 hour light of our lives, as she was a smiling, happy child pretty much 24 hours a day. She was a sleepless wonder, but she was the missing piece to the puzzle. We were young and very much in love, but definitely wading through the first years half dazed, half asleep, and all the way uncertain of the things to come.
Three years later the next piece of the puzzle arrived. He came into this world with a mess of dark hair that stood straight up on end and always looked like he rubbed a balloon across it to build static. He had blue eyes and chubby cheeks and his timing could not have been better. Little did we know the joy he would bring or just how much we would need him.
Several months later our world was rocked to the core. It was a beautiful spring day, just after Mother’s Day in 2002. The kind of day when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. The grass was green and vibrant and the wind was blowing a gentle warm breeze. The warmth of the spring sun warmed every part of me and filled me with the hope of spring, until I pulled into my driveway and saw my parent’s car there, unannounced and in the middle of the day. I just knew. I knew in the very centre of my soul that this was not a lighthearted visit. A few moments later my intuition was confirmed as my daddy told me that he had lung cancer.
I can tell you how Troy literally picked me up off the floor after my parents left and held me until I could sob no more. I can tell you how he was my rock that day. I can tell you how I returned the favour when a few short hours later, Troy came home from work after losing his job. Who does that happen to? In the same day? Well, it happened to us. Book us a pity party, table for two please.
Ultimately, my dad lost his battle with cancer but joined the ranks of those who have gone before him to Heaven and Troy got another job. We faced the challenges of helping my mother get back on her own two feet and we kept moving, one foot in front of the other. Until, I couldn’t move anymore.
I went through a period near my thirties that I can only describe as the ultimate identity crisis. I began to question everything about my life. Who was I? Who were these people in my life that were so dependent on me to be a better person than I felt like being at the time? How did I get to this place in my life? I rebelled and boy, that is a story for another day. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. It almost cost me everything, including my marriage. But once again, Troy picked me up off the floor and held me until I could sob no more. That night something changed for us both. It was a moment of pure honesty and intimate reflection on the status of our marriage and it was the beginning of the most beautiful part of our marriage for me. God truly showed me what it meant to raise beauty from the ashes.
Several more years have passed and they have, for me, truly been some of the best years. We are now in the midst of raising teens and getting ready to send one off to college. We are caring for my elderly mother who lives next door to us. We are busy working several jobs and still in debt. We are fighting for our sanity, literally and figuratively. Life is hard. It’s full of well…life…complications and hard times but joy none the less. Our love story is my favourite love story. Not because it is ours, but because it is real. Real life. Twenty years of unfiltered, messy, beautiful real life.
Tamara Fox is a 36 year old wife and mom from Chesapeake, Virginia. She has been married to her husband for almost 19 years. They have two children; a seventeen year old daughter and fourteen year old son. Tamara has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Professional Counselling from Liberty University. She is a writer and blogger and hopes to continue to pursue her writing career. Check her out own her own page at Fascinated Hearts Ministries on Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog Fascinated Hearts.