Why my best writing will never be published.

Thinking about the best writing I've ever done, I readily dismiss the two books I wrote.  Same with the thesis I created for my masters degree.  Even passionate, published letters to the editor on behalf of an issue dear to me don't qualify.

Nope.  The best thing I ever wrote was a note to my husband, Dave, on the day we got married.

October 24, 1998.  I spent most of the day blissfully by myself; sleeping late, going for a run, getting a massage and lunch, enjoyed outside soaking up the picture-perfect weather.  Throughout the day, my thoughts were focused on what would happen at 6:00 that night.  I had waited for the right guy, at the right time, for the right reasons.  Everything felt right with the universe.

Checking off my massive to-do list, I made sure all was going as well as could be, including the gifts for the maid of honor and bridesmaid (yes, I had only one).  That got me thinking about the Tiffany & Co. watch I gave Dave after the rehearsal dinner.  The back of the watch was engraved "To David. I Love You. 10.24.98."

This thought, in turn, caused me to reflect on how this day came to be and what our lives might look like in the years ahead.

A traditionalist, I had no desire to write my own vows.  I did, however, want Dave to know more of what was in my heart than 'I do.'  While finishing my chopped salad on the patio (had to be sure the dress would fit!), I took pen to paper and let Dave know precisely how I felt about him.

Having read of the many wedding anniversaries in the Tribune for years, I was struck by the couples who were marking their 50th, 60th and even 75th years together.  So many of these husbands and wives had outlived their own children, survived war deployments, built or lost businesses, geographic relocations, buried parents, overcome health challenges and lived to tell the tale.  How I revered them and their ability to keep going, together, and I wanted my marriage to be like that.

Writing on 'Christine Kellogg' stationery for the last time, I made sure Dave understood that I knew in my gut he was my husband the day we met.  I wanted Dave to know that I was all in, without reservation.  That I never doubted he was The One.  I told him the qualities I most admired about him and what I was looking forward to in our marriage.  That I considered myself the luckiest girl I knew.  That I felt blessed he proposed, and that my answer could only have been yes.

My maid of honor arrived at my apartment around 4:00 for some last minute prepping and fun before we had to head out for the 6:00 ceremony.  The first item I gave her was the note with specific instructions to give it to Dave and ask him to read it before we got started.

As the church organist saw my grandfather and me stand at the far end of the aisle, the Pachelbel Canon in D began.  My maid of honor flashed a huge smile and motioned a thumbs up, confirming that Dave had gotten and read the note.  I was beyond thrilled knowing that Dave knew what was in my heart as I walked toward him.

Monday was our 18th anniversary.  As is our custom, we look at photo albums on these special days and reminisce.  Every year, Dave comments on the first photo in the wedding album, one taken of me when I first saw him at the end of the aisle.  He says "you looked so happy.  You didn't stop smiling the whole time."  Dave was right.  I was then, and, thankfully, still am.

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