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My dearest Andrew, My Prince

My vows to you (Candace)

My dearest Andrew,

My prince.

I wasn’t sure I would ever see this day.  My entire life, I felt like I was on the outside, looking in.  I constantly looked to the future, to others, to accomplishments and ownership of things to fulfill me.  I spent so many years searching, only to feel that my search for myself and my peace was futile.  I thought I might never find peace.  And I was certain that I wouldn’t find peace with a man.  And so, for thirty-three years, I was wholly and completely unsettled.  I had great personal successes and great personal failures, and considered taking my own life because I knew that I wasn’t living.

It was then that I asked God for help.  I was in a hotel room on the day I expected to lose everything, laying on the floor, begging God to forgive me, to show me the way.  I was convinced that I was a fraud, that I was broken.  That day, everything began to change for me.

Slowly, over the course of the following three years, it was like I could finally open a locked window, and I began to breathe the sweet outside air for the first time.  I stretched and rolled around in the grass and played and pushed in every direction.  I think that I was looking for the boundaries, the ones I had been prisoner to before, the walls that I had built up for myself.  But as I continued to push and dance and run, I just continued to see more and more beautiful open space.

And then, one beautiful day, I saw you.  Right there in front of me.  In the middle of this beautiful open space.  As if you had been there all along.  Just waiting for me.

You took my hand that day and we ran and played and danced in that open space together.  We learned about each other and ourselves.  We learned to appreciate one another, our similarities and our differences.  We learned a new language together and how to grow as a unit.  But we did this while at the same time respecting the need for our own individual growth, our own space, our own identity.

As I stand beside you today, as your wife, in this beautiful place and among our closest loved ones, I am present.  It is now.  I am here. 

I am appreciating each breath.  Each sensation.

I am feeling light behind my eyes.  As if my head could be floating on its own.  My heart is bursting open with gratitude and appreciation and awe.  My stomach is glowing white.  And my legs and feet are light and dancing even as I stand still.

My mind is calm.  The millions of scattered thoughts that you have become so accustomed to seeing in me have quieted.  I am feeling free from worry or overwhelm.  I am not lingering on the person I was before.  I am not planning for the person I am to become.  I am thinking, in this moment, only about you, this magnificent man in front of me.

I recognize your hair.  Your lovely golden curls.  I love the way this hair dances in the wind on a long hike.  How long it has gotten with our cross country travel.  How soft it feels in my hands as I hold you and scratch your head with my nails.

I admire your strong forehead, cheek bones and chin, dotted with the softest freckles and proud of the spirit they help to represent.  They bring me a feeling of calm and safety.

I find myself in your eyes.  In your endless sea of blue phosphorescent love, so curious about the world around you and so loving and caring toward me.  These eyes have seen great sadness and great joy.  They’ve studied thousands of words from great authors.  They seek to understand all they come across.  Whether that be Shakespeare, James Joyce or William Blake, a flock of parrots in flight, a confused and sad friend, a group of new friends in a new setting, a woman who adores you. 

Your eyes see me.  Not for the woman you wish I would be.  But for the woman I am.  You see all of my cracks and bruises, all of the things I’m ashamed of and embarrassed by, all of my oddities and idiosyncrasies, and you love me for them.  Your eyes see my being more truly and lovingly than I knew was possible.  And your eyes reflect back to me the woman I have always wanted to be.  A woman of high integrity.  A woman who is honest.  A woman who can only love you because you allow her to be.

And my entire being is drawn to your lips.  The lips that have kissed me so many times before and the lips that I yearn to kiss now and for a thousand forevers.  The lips that know how to taste…tea and wine and my fingertips.  The lips that speak French when we make love, that whisper poetry as I’m falling asleep, that kiss my forehead as I’m crying.  These lips speak a truth like I’ve never heard, because they are the lips of the most honest man I’ve ever known.  They are so happy and light.  Their smile can soften the hardest of hearts.  Because when they speak, they speak love.

I’m grounded by your shoulders, your arms.  These are the shoulders of a man who can move mountains.  Strong and masculine.  These arms can build the sturdiest of foundations for our love, but can also hold me and make me feel like I am the safest, softest, most beautiful woman they’ve ever caressed.  You have the arms of a man who works hard on the land.  The arms of a man who cradles animals and children.  The arms of a man who, when I simply can’t walk another step, carries me up mountains, through obstacles, and to bed.  These are the arms I want to hold me today and every day.

I’m awakened by your strong chest, your gentle heart.  I’m not sure there are words to describe it.  When I first met you, I could barely see this heart of yours.  You had tried to cover it up with blankets and fences and wire.  But your heart was stronger than your body.  It longed to love and be loved.  It yearned to play and be free.  And that first day on the lawn, as we read our love letters to one another, I saw it beam.  It was so bright.  Maybe the brightest heart of all the hearts.  It was overflowing with love for me and for you and for this planet and for all things.  Your heart was thirsty, but rather than hold back to conserve love, as we are taught to do, it began pouring love freely.  So much love that it overflowed from my heart and created a sea of love.  Your heart created this warm ocean of openness and honesty and appreciation, and had so much love to give that everyone around us wanted to swim in it.  I thank God that I get to bathe in this love that gushes from this heart for the rest of my life.

I’m comforted by your belly.  What an interesting life this belly has lived.  Your belly is quite limber, as it has twisted itself in knots for long periods of time.  But because it has, it recognizes this contortion in others and connects with them.  It allows you to find peace in yourself and in us.  But it also allows you to take on the pain of those you love, to understand their suffering and make them feel held and heard.

I’m aroused by your firm buttocks and penis.  Oh, how I love to celebrate them.  From the first time we made love, they connected with my body in a way I can only now try to explain.  I’m so drawn to you.  Even now.  Or particularly now.  Here.  In front of our friends and family.  Because your sexual embrace unlocks me.  It unravels me.  Fills me with heat.  And passion.  And warmth.  You fully respect my no, which allows me to offer my full yes.  And you understand just how my body, heart and mind are connected, so you are able to fulfill me completely.  I giggle with delight at the thought of adoring our sex as your wife, your beloved.

I feel carried by your legs, strong and sturdy.  These legs have walked a million miles.  Through this life and our lives beyond.  These legs have walked with me for so many past lifetimes.  When you were my husband, my child, my sibling, my friend.  These legs have explored many worlds, far beyond the one we intend to explore together in the coming months and years.  They have carried a fierce warrior, a gentle lover, a teacher, a pacifist.  These are the legs of a man well-traveled, seasoned and yet ready to explore.

I find tranquility in your feet.  What a wonderful foundation for such a unique human being.  These feet now form a foundation for our family, for our future children.  These feet know how to stand and hold steady, but they also know how to dance in the rain and jump and spin.  They have walked the earth and back again to find just the right spot to call home, only to realize that it is in moving, in walking, that we build our most sturdy foundation. 

And these hands.  As your hands hold mine, I feel energy swirling in my ears and throughout my body.  These are the kindest of all hands.  These are the hands that wash my feet when I’m having a difficult day and then caress my face and head with a cold wash cloth until I fall asleep. These hands are held open to embrace the world, but stay steady and strong to protect me.  You once told me that, before we met, you were a balled up fist.  But I’ve never seen a fist in these hands.  I’ve only seen love.  Pure love.  Love for me.  Love for those around you.  But most importantly, love for yourself.  These are the hands of a kind, pure and honest man.  And these are the hands I am honored to hold as your wife, in matrimony.

As your wife, I vow to be an active participant in this life with you.  I will need your help, but I vow to work daily to remain in the moment, present and in appreciation of the gift of our love.  There will be times when I get pre-occupied with planning, only because I love you so very much and want to serve you.  There will be times when I incorrectly decide a course of action that frustrates you or makes you feel unheard.  Please know that, in those moments, I only intend to pour my love into you, even if I don’t do it with complete grace.  We have been blessed with a wonderful love, a beautiful life, and that gift deserves our full attention and respect.

I vow to seek to serve you in the ways that you feel love.  I understand that our love languages can differ from one another and from time to time, and I commit to working daily to appreciate your needs and communicate in your love language as much and as often as I can.

I vow to honor you and your choices, even if and when I don’t completely understand them.  I know that your decisions are intended to honor me, your family and friends.  And that your actions are made more often from love than fear.  I may not always agree with the way you do things, but I commit to seeking out your point of view.

Above all else, I vow to be honest, with myself and with you. I will make mistakes in life, and there will be moments when I am not proud of myself or my actions.  There will be moments when I am lost and don’t know what to do, when I am scared to share this with you because I love you so much.  There will be moments when I don’t have my words.  When I’m frustrated or sad or insecure, but don’t know how to tell you.  I commit to working through these moments with you, as my partner, as the truest reflection of the woman I want to be. 

Our happiness lies in our integrity.  And our integrity is based on truth.

Philip Andrew Sjogren, I look forward to our future together.  To our grand adventure.  But in this moment, all I want is to be here.  Now.  As your wife.

I love you.