January 10, 2004 was a very special day. It was the day that I would finally marry the love of my life, Rebecca. We planned a beautiful wedding at a country club. All of the flowers were perfect. The cake was beautiful. Everything made it a magical wedding.
And I considered myself lucky.
Not for the reasons you might think. I was 420 pounds at the time and morbidly obese. I felt lucky because I found a tuxedo that fit me. It was not easy but I found one. I was lucky that someone helped me put on socks because I could not on my own. I was lucky my back was not in pain. I was lucky that I did not have to go to the bathroom beforehand because it would have been an ordeal to put my clothes back on...
I was lucky to be alive.
I was able to walk down the aisle. My back hurt but I ignored the pain.
I cried during the ceremony. Afterwards, we were a married couple.
During the reception I was sweating a lot. We were supposed to walk to each table to thank everyone but I just wanted to sit. My back started to hurt and did not want to wobble from table to table.
Then it was the moment I feared. It was our first dance as a married couple.
We got on the dance floor. Our song played and my wife put her arms on my sides. My wife has not been able to give me a hug in years. So she put her hands on my hips. I did the same to her. We looked like awkward sixth graders who did not want to dance together. I was embarrassed. I looked down at my stomach the whole time... not in my wife's eyes. I always thought my wife deserved better than me. I never understood how my wife could be with a man who had a hard time being with himself. I never knew what my wife saw in me.
My wife, Rebecca, saw things in me that not many others did. She saw talent in me when most people saw obesity. She saw determination when others saw laziness. She saw brilliance when others saw stupidity. She told me numerous times that I sold myself short. She told me I was a talented writer before sharing my work with thousands of people. She told me I was a leader when all I felt like was a follower.
She told me that I needed to see what she saw in me.
She never asked me to lose weight to be sexier. She never told me I needed to lose weight or she would leave. She loved me at 420 pounds but her fear was I would die. Die of a heart attack. Die of nine million other things obesity is linked to. She asked me to get healthier. Not to be more attractive.
So we could live a long life together.
Our ten-year anniversary is in January. In that time my wife has seen me lose over 200 pounds. She has seen me as a chef and as a restaurant manager. She has seen my writing published in numerous outlets.
We have a family now. One that was a distant dream ten years ago. We are blessed with two beautiful children.
And I do not think we will be able to take a romantic getaway in January. Like most married couples. We probably do not have the finances for jewels and fancy electronics...
But I do think after losing over 200 pounds, my wife deserves a real slow dance. One where she can lay her head on my shoulder. One that we can be close together feeling the music.
One with our arms wrapped around each other and both looking into each others eyes...
She has deserved it for close to ten years.