Today marks the 27th birthday of my favorite person, best friend, and love-of-my life. Although he has not been looking forward to today (rather, he has been dreading it like a Novocaine-free tooth extraction), I feel that it is important to celebrate grandly because he deserves a day dedicated to acknowledging what a wonderful person he really is. Normally I love to tease and give Paul a hard time, but today I will only gush, giving you a glimpse of how much I truly adore and love this guy.
In honor of his birthday, I would like to share 10 favorite memories (so far) of my life with Paul...
1) I first met Paul in the 3rd grade at vacation bible school in Helena, Montana. Our families attended the same parish and we eventually even went to school together one year. My Dad then got a new job and we packed up and moved across the country immediately after the conclusion of our 6th grade year. When we were reunited after a seven year separation during our Freshman year at Notre Dame, I ran up to him and began chatting endlessly about memories from Montana. He only stared at me with obvious boredom, waited for me to finish, and then asked: "And who are you, exactly?"
2) While praying together at the grotto at Notre Dame six months before we officially became a couple, Paul and I both suddenly felt that we would marry one another someday. This was especially disconcerting to me because I really was not too fond of him at the time (I was still upset and embarrassed about memory #1).
3) I will never forget the cold night while strolling back from a hockey game when Paul stopped to tell the sidewalk how much he loved it. It took me a second to realize that he was talking to me and shyly telling me he loved me for the first time. For the record, I said it back...and we haven't stopped saying it to one another every single day since.
4) While attending our Sophomore formal together, Paul's twin made a joke just as I was sticking a rather large piece of pineapple into my mouth. I laughed a little too violently and suddenly inhaled the entire pineapple, causing it to become firmly implanted in my windpipe. I could not breathe (or make a sound, for that matter) and began to panic. Paul saw that I was choking, ran over, and swiftly administered the heimlich maneuver. It did the trick and the pineapple piece went flying across the room in front of the 30 people who had gathered around to watch the whole fiasco. I have been calling Paul "my hero" ever since.
5) One chilly November night during our Junior year, while taking our ritual stroll around St. Mary's Lake, Paul got down on one knee and proposed in full view of the Golden Dome and the Basilica steeple. He surprised me so much that I forgot to say "yes!"
6) Standing up on the altar nine months later in front of family and friends and staring excitedly into Paul's eyes as we joyfully became husband and wife will forever be the greatest and most important moment of my life.
7) For Paul's 23rd birthday, he requested a decadent, four-layer monstrosity of a Black Forest Cake and I was more than happy to make it for him! I was thrilled with how beautifully the cake layers baked up, how wonderful the kirsch-kissed filling smelled, and how silkily decadent the frosting tasted. As I was putting some finishing touches on the decorated cake, spinning the cake stand so I could achieve a smooth look on the sides with my spatula, disaster struck. I must have been working way too close to the edge of the countertop because I spun the cake stand right off. It fell upside-down on the floor, sending cake and frosting splattering everywhere. I collapsed on the kitchen floor next to it and began to bawl while pathetically trying to pick the cake up off the floor. It only imploded further, leaving my hands covered in a goopy mess. Paul had heard the crash from his office and came running into the room where he found me (and our kitchen) covered in cake and frosting. "I ruined your cake! I wanted to make it special and I ruined it!" I bawled. Paul grabbed two forks from the utensil drawer, knelt down next to me, wiped my tears, and handed me a fork. "Dig in!" he proclaimed. And we sat there eating the cake off the floor (at least the parts that were not actually touching the floor) while laughing at the whole situation.
8) After suffering through a devastating miscarriage, Paul and I were nervous and apprehensive when we learned that we were pregnant once again. When we headed into our first sonogram, we were extremely scared and nearly shaking with worry. You see, it was during our very first sonogram that we learned that our first conceived child was without a heartbeat. However, this second baby (our future little Matthew) did have heartbeat. And it was strong. We both burst into tears of joy at the sight! It was a beautiful moment.
9) I will never forget the moment, at the very end of a pretty dramatic labor, when Paul kissed my forehead while joyously proclaiming: "HE'S HERE! HE'S HERE!" The doctor then handed us our son and we both were in such awe of how beautiful he was. The amount of love we both felt at that moment, for one another and our little newborn baby, is indescribable.
10) Paul received a promotion while at work this past year and, while he had always been planning our escape from the Midwest, this new development convinced him that perhaps we should realistically acknowledge that the time had come to buy a home. Within a day, we found a home up for sale while on a family stroll. We immediately met with the owners and drafted an offer. We met with them in person to discuss the offer, and they immediately accepted even though three other people had also submitted offers. Paul and I were so excited when we left that meeting that we skipped (no kidding) all the way home, holding hands and swinging our arms. We must have looked so dorky, but we didn't care! We were going to buy a home!
I love this man more than words can express and I know that we will share many, many more memories together as we continue on this journey through life together.