Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wedding anniversary reflections

It's October 25, 2003. It's early in the morning on a gorgeous fall Saturday morning. I pull into a park-n-ride to meet a group of people I don't know to go on a hike on Mt. Pilchuk. As I pull into a parking space, I spy a very cute girl getting stuff from the trunk of her car. I think to myself that I hope she's going on this hike. She is. Her name turns out to be Aimee Richmond.
A quick kiss before the
wedding starts

We ride in the same car on the carpool ride to the trailhead (I arranged that intentionally). We chat. I like her. She seems more or less indifferent to me.

We begin the hike. Although her legs are MUCH shorter than mine and so she hikes a lot slower, I use the excuse of a healing sprained ankle to hike at her pace. We talk a lot, stop at the same places to take photos, and have a nice time. I ignore every other person in our group. At the top, she realizes that although I'm carrying a decent sized day pack, it's mostly full of camera gear and a bit short on food. She laughs at me and offers some of hers, but since hers is all healthy (I recall a bag of sliced bell peppers), I politely decline. She teases me some more, and soon we begin the hike back.

It's October 31, 2003. Halloween. We've agreed to meet at a singles party (cruise on Lake Union here in Seattle). I arrived to see quite a few girls dressed in various slinky and revealing costumes. I eventually find Aimee. She's dressed as a hockey player, complete with bulky pads, facemask, black eye and blacked out teeth. Clearly she's not operating on the idea that she needs to show a lot of sex appeal to meet guys. Go figure, she also has 4-5 guys surrounding her, chatting her up. Slightly daunted by my competition, I nonetheless approach her and say hi, hoping she remembers that we agreed to meet up here (though we did not go together, so it's not a date). She does remember, and I join the group.

"So, we did it. We're
married now."
It takes me more than half of the three hour cruise, but I eventually get rid of (outlast) the rest of the guys, and have Aimee to myself. We talk a lot. We have a few drinks. We even dance a little. After the party, we go grab a late-night breakfast at a nearby restaurant and I ask her if she'd like to join me on a drive to Leavenworth two days later. She agrees, and we have our first date.

It's March 17, 2004. We've just come back to my apartment after hanging out with some people for St. Patrick's Day. At one point I stop, look her right in the eyes and softly say, "Aimee, I love you." She smiles so sweetly, nods a little and says, "I love you, too." It is the first time we exchange those words.

It's April 2005. We're in San Diego on a long weekend trip. The last day we're there, we're sitting at an IHOP eating breakfast, and Aimee starts to cry (happily). I ask her if everything's alright, and she smiles and says yes, but offers no details. I let it go. A few days later, while having dinner with her, she tells me that she'd had an epiphany. She feels that God spoke to her that morning at IHOP and told her I would be the guy she'd marry. She hadn't felt that way about me before that point, but she knew it now.

I was caught off guard, and had received no such message from the Almighty. I had also passed the 'window' in which I'd wanted to get married and start a family. I had decided to stay single. But, I DID love her. I needed time.

She gave it to me, until she got tired of waiting and left me.

About four months later.

Two months after that, I reached a point of crisis and asked God for a sign, and I'll be damned, He gave it to me. The next day I told Aimee that if she still wanted me, I was ready. She did.
"She's Got a Way", by Billy Joel,
was our first dance

It's Thanksgiving Day, 2005. I called her father and asked his permission to marry Aimee. I tell him I will take great care of her, protect her, and provide for whatever she needed. I tell him I love her.

He gave me his blessing.

It's December 23, 2005. I officially proposed to her as we opened Christmas presents at my apartment (she was leaving for her parent's home in Indiana the next day). Although I was sure of her answer, I was still nervous. I needn't have been. She said yes.

It's April 29, 2006. I get dressed up in a tuxedo. Aimee gets dressed up in a pretty white dress. We meet at a gorgeoous stone church in Tacoma, WA (St. Luke's Episcopal Church). Aimee Richmond became Aimee Rhoads, and I became the luckiest S.O.B. alive.

Since that time, April 29 has come and gone five times. Each one was better than the one before it. Aimee gave 100% of herself to our marriage, and taught me how to do the same.

"Til death do us part." Wow, when you say that to someone, and you're in your 30's, you assume that will be SO far away, so long from where you are right now. You envison a long life together, raising children, building a life filled with happy memories (and some sad ones too - life isn't perfect for any of us). You imagine years of family vacations, date nights, soccer games, dance recitals, and other milestones.
We were so happy, and it only got better

You do not envision 'til death do us part' coming five and half years later.

You do not imagine having to sit your three year old daughter down and tell her mommy is dead.

And you do not imagine her telling you four months later that she wishes she'd died when mommy did so she could be in heaven with her.

There have been five great April 29th's since Aimee and I got married. On none of them did I ever think that April 29 would ever be such a sad, sad day.


  1. It is wonderful that you are writing this all down. Rowan will treasure this as she grows, knowing how her parents met, how much her daddy loved her mommy, and even how eloquently you are able to express your feelings about it all. It is your story, it is Aimee's story, but most of all it is the story of how Rowan came to be, and for her that will be very important to hear. A few more weeks, and all these holidays and anniversaries and birthdays will be passed for this year, and sunny summer days will stretch out before you and Rowan. I wish you smooth sailing.

  2. Pat, that is a fairy tale come true.... made me smile at the same point cry......Aimee was such a wonderful person, loving mother devoted wife. The silver lining to every dark cloud. I set here reading this, and know that Aimee is smiling down on you and Rowan. She is there with you two, guiding you, loving you. And just the way you told that, brings a fairy tale to life.

  3. Dear Pat,

    You don't know me but I was a client of Aimee's last year. She helped me through some honorific events that I could not have made it through without her wisdom, caring and support.

    Last night I did a Google search for her. I had sent her some texts messages to set up some more appointments. I knew something must be wrong when she did not return them. I was shocked and saddened to learn of her passing.

    I found comfort in reading your blog and wanted to thank you for it. My heart and prays go out to you, your daughter, her mother and family. Even though I never met any of you, Aimee shared such wonderful stories about all of you.

    1. Susan, thanks for reading and for sharing your relationship with Aimee with me. I am particularly grateful that the blog was helpful. I started it as a way to share what I was going through and to share informaiton with people. But I have come to realize, from my comments here and in person, that this blog means a lot to a lot of people, and I'm really appreciative of that. It gives me greater satisfaction knowing that in some way this is helping others besides just me.

      Finally, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We all appreciate them very, very much.


  4. Dear Pat-
    I too was a client of Aimee's last year and just heard of her death today from Susan (above). I was so so saddened by the news but so grateful to read your blog.
    Aimee helped me through the biggest loss of my life last year. At the time I thought of her as an angel because I felt so safe and comforted in her presence. She had an extraordinary ability to connect as soon as I walked through her door.
    She was obviously a wonderful influence on your life as your blog continues her beautiful legacy in helping others to heal. Thank you for sharing, in this way, your life with her, with us.
    My deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to you and your daughter and family.

    1. Kim,
      Thanks to you as well for telling me about your experience with Aimee. She was indeed a very special person, and her best qualities made her a fantastic counselor, I'm sure.

      She WAS an amazing influence on my life, and I'm so grateful for it. And as I mentioned in me response to Susan, I do certainly appreciate that this blog seems to be helping others. That alone would bemore than reason enough for me to continue it if I ever felt like maybe it wasn't worth the effort.

      Thanks again, and God bless.