Hello again dear reader
14 years ago today, I married my best friend. Back then, when we were young(er), we had dreams, we had hopes, we had ambitions. We were like every other couple in that regard. Today, I reflect on the past 14 years. I think about the dreams we had as compared to the life we have. I think about our hopes and ambitions of yesteryear....is that where we are today? Oh, we had no illusions in that day that life would be a bed of roses...but honestly dear reader, we could not have prepared for what we were given. And as I reflect, I realize that it's a good thing we didn't know what was going to happen. Read on, if you'd like....the time for reflection is upon me.
When we started dating, we really didn't expect much to happen from the relationship...I was oil, she was water. Two people could hardly be more different. Our running joke was 'Hey, if we're still together on the weekend, want to catch a show?' I don't know how long that went on for, but as time went on, we came to realize that we worked well together. And against all odds (and some peoples wishes) we fell in love. We only dated for 11 months before we announced to the world our engagement. The proposal was not romantic in the least....110Kmph through middle of farm country in Southern Alberta. I had promised Dianne that I wouldn't spring any surpises whilst her final exams were happening....she wrote her last one the day before, so I caught her in an exhausted state. I planned it that way.
We stayed engaged for a year and a half, taking our time with the planning of our wedding. We didn't do anything fancy, but it sure was a beautiful day. I think the only thing that didn't quite go right was the lack of a corkscrew at the reception. That day, September 14, 1996, I told my best friend that I loved her, and that through sickness and health, riches and poorer and good times and bad, I wanted to be with her, to support her, to love her, to be her helpmeet and to walk with her down whatever path was ahead.
Almost immediately, the promises we made to each other were put to the test. I had knee surgery a month after our wedding, and because of an extended recovery time, my job was given to someone else. I was un-employed. This, dear reader, was the start of the whole 'for richer or poorer' thing....financial trial by fire. Thankfully, I didn't stay unemployed long. I found a job in a bakery about an hour away from home. Working 16 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week meant I wasn't home much. I did this for two years. It didn't give us much time together, but we made it work. During this time, Dianne had back problems, and was laid up for a while. It seemed that for the first 6 months of our marriage, one of us was crippled. Do you see the start of the 'in sickness and health' thing?
Time moved on, we moved to Edmonton for a job that didn't pan out. I ended up with a decent job at an IGA bakery....and stayed there for 3 years. It was in this time period that our first son was born (being home at night really helped with the procreation side of marriage). Remember my introduction, dear reader? Remember when I talked about our hopes and plans? And remember how I said we could not have prepared for what was to come? Well, once again, God had a plan for us that we could not fathom. Without going into huge detail, our first son, Michael Jeffrey Kok, was born on October 14, 1999. In His infinite wisdom, God took Michael home on December 7, 1999. Nothing,dear reader, could have prepared us for this. But, we are comforted by knowing that God will never give us anything we can't handle, and sure enough, He walked this path with us, holding our hands. We cried, we grieved together and together we carried on...in faith.
Carrying on forward a few years, we had an amazing time. We purchased our first house, which we still live in today. We were richly blessed with two more children, David in 2001 and Rebecca in 2004. I ended up switching careers at the age of 32, because my back just wouldn't handle the physicality of being a baker any more. So, I went to college for a year. For almost a full year, we had an income of $0. And out of that $0, we paid our mortgage and everything that comes with owning a house, we were raising a baby (we only had David at this point), and we tried to live. And, by God's grace, we made it through. Roughly 5 years after the career change, my income was beyond what I was making as a baker when I quit. Truly we were blessed.
I'll try get to the end of this, dear reader. I'm sure you're bored by now. Carrying on then.....our promise of 'in sickness and health' was tested yet again. First, I developed health issues that at first looked related to a bad ticker, but ended being a bad respiratory system (25 years of smoking will do that). Then, the lumps were found in Dianne's breast....and a lot of you walked that path with us through the blog. I won't re-hash any of that. If you want to, go to http://fifafan69.blogspot.com and go on that journey. And, the third health related issue to strike us was my diabetes, which today is very much under control.
Dear reader, I write all of this to give you a glimpse of the past 14 years, and how the promises we made to each other before God and many witnesses were put to the test. Did life turn out as we planned? Absolutely not. Did life, to this point, turn out great? Absolutely. But, we discovered that our plans don't neccesarily match with the plans God has for us. Be prepared for bumps and curves in the road...our human GPS is not really all that accurate.
And now I ask you: Did you notice the title of this article? Papillons de l'Amour. That is French for ' The Butterflies of Love'. Yes dear reader, after 14 years, after riches and poorer, after better and worse and after sickness and health, I still get that little feeling whenever I look at my lovely bride. Calvin and Hobbes referred to it as 'cooties'. I call it butterflies. Butterflies of Love. Papillons de l'Amour.
Happy Anniversary, Dianne. You truly are my best friend. I love you.