Last Saturday, I stumbled across a picture of Aimee and me dancing at a friend's wedding. It was late 2001, only six months after our own wedding. Aimee's back was turned to the camera, but it was her, wedding hair, red bridesmaid dress and all, while I'm facing the camera. I hardly recognized the boy in the picture--me. My hair was dark and full, my face bone-thin, and my grin full of boyish wonder. I was twenty-six.
Nearly eleven years later, I'm thirty-seven, my hair is a bit more grey, my face fuller, the grin more knowing, the smile of a veteran on the eve of deployment.
There's a line from Pink Floyd's "Your Possible Pasts" (from The Final Cut, their often overlooked last album with Roger Waters) which reads, "I was just a child then, now I'm only a man." I've always liked the song, despite its bleak, rather bitter take on life, and I feel that line more now than ever. I don't know when I became a man--or the man I am--sometime between the photo from that long ago wedding and now. When I look back and think about the years in between, when I think of my journey with Aimee, the birth of our children, our ups and downs, good times and bad, and her death, I realize how much has changed for the boy of twenty-six dancing with his beautiful, newlywed wife.
What would I tell that boy now if I could go back? What could I tell him about what life brought to his stoop, about the challenges he'd face, about the heartache and all the rest?
Keep smiling, I suppose. Love your beautiful wife with as much passion as you can. Life, at its best, is far too short, so live with passion. Embrace it all--good times and bad--and love like your life depends on it.