I'm a very lucky guy. I met the love of my life in high school. We were pups, infatuated with one another in that amazing new love spell, and having an attachment to each other that felt so incredibly unique and special.
Throughout the next eight years, we'd be right at each other's side. Was the relationship always harnessed in that early bliss? No, of course not. We went through our trials, but we were growing up together. We were quickly learning about ourselves, as we were also learning how that molded with our relationship. But the beautiful part of it all? As we grew up, we fell more and more in love with the person that each of us had become.
Seven years later, I asked my best friend to marry me. Mr. and Mrs. Rancatore became official on November 9, 2013. I still can recall so many little details from that perfect day. The way my wife smiled and giggled as she walked down the aisle, seeing the laughter and dancing of our friends and family on the dance floor, and pulling my wife aside to take in this amazing event that we had pulled off.
Our honeymoon took us that following Monday on a two-week getaway to the Caribbean. It was magical, romantic, as we were engulfed in the views of tropical mountains and the vast sparkling sea.
But that bliss came to a quick halt. Four days into our honeymoon we received one of those phone calls that you pray never comes to you. My wife noticed a missed call on our hotel room phone, quickly calling back in the afternoon the other line was a panicked voice from a hospital back home. Something was wrong, very wrong.
My wife's father. Without going into a deep-dive medical history, he had his fair share of heart-related issues. He had brief hospital stints in the past and always bounced back. These problems increased over the last year, but leading up to the wedding he had received a good bill of health, and the doctors gave reassurances that he was on the up and up.
But this time it was different. This time it was bad.
Thirty six hours later we were on the quickest flight we could get back home. My wife in tears for the excruciatingly long journey back to Chicago, I felt helpless as we didn't really know what was going on. There were no words to fill those moments.
At the hospital we found out how awful it was. My wife's mother found him unconscious at home, and by that time he had been without oxygen for over ten minutes. By some miracle she was able to bring him back, start his heart going again, but we'd find out in the next couple of days that it was all too late. My father-in-law had a remarkable resemblance to Santa Claus. Only this Irish version of Santa enjoyed a tall Jameson and having his heart broken by his beloved Chicago Bears. That amazingly quick-witted mind, that baritone ringing constant laugh was already gone.
Nine days after our wedding, the world lost Don Flynn. Everything seems a bit foggy after that. The quick arrangements that had to be made, the overwhelming amount of support from friends and family, all seems to be a blur now.
So here we are two years later. Close to a month ago, my beautiful bride and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. I wish I could tell you that it's all been smooth and perfect since then. It hasn't. It has been difficult as anyone would expect it to be.
But what I have learned is what a remarkable woman I have to spend all of my days with. I have learned that she has had the amazing ability to find the best in every day, even if she at times doesn't want to. Maybe sometimes it might be a mask, but I've seen her seek out positivity in our relationship and our lives.
I have learned that our relationship is truly a partnership. Not that I would say the scales were out of whack beforehand, but we have each needed time to break down. At first I would rush to find a solution to make things better, but you can't. We have each had to take on the role of consoler and counselee.
We've learned that every day is amazing. You find the tiniest nugget of things to smile or laugh at. Maybe a good majority of those have to do with the randomness of our dog, but they are all meaningful.
We have learned to cut out the B.S. Unnecessary drama and people who don't bring positivity to us as a couple do not have a place in our lives. We have made a mission of surrounding us with people who make our lives better. We just hope that we offer that back in some capacity.
After two years, I can tell you that marriage is everything it's cracked up to be. It doesn't follow a plan, and the curve balls we all face will come at a different angle. Through a mixture of love, faith, and purpose, we've celebrated the best in each other.
Maybe marriage it isn't for everyone, but it is for us. I am so in love with this woman, I believe in this woman, and I can only hope that she will put up with my crappy jokes forever.