Life feels like it’s been moving fast-forward for us both recently. Just a month ago, we were standing at the altar reciting our vows to each other through our paced breaths and racing heartbeats. A week after that, we went on our first trip out of the country to our honeymoon in Cancun, where we swam in the crystal-clear blue oceans, played with dolphins, and drank more tequila than either of us had any business consuming. A week after that, we went head-first into our first holiday season as a married couple, juggling time between both of our families’ houses. Even now after we have winded down from all of the presents and egg nog, we head into 2023 as different people from who we were earlier this year. If life was moving any faster for us, we’d be parents before Valentine’s even came around.
So much has happened so quickly in the past few months that I don’t want to lose these feelings of joy and happiness, or lose sight of why I fell in love with you in the first place. That’s why before the new year comes around and we once again get wrapped up in the busyness of our everyday lives, I wanted to take a moment to pause, breathe, and simply express everything I’ve felt about you for a while now. No cameras, no calendars, no wedding plans — just you and me.
Our paths crossed through the most generic, millennial way possible — through Bumble. I remember the state of mind I was in before I came across your face. It was Nov. 7, 2020, and after a ridiculous, abysmal year filled with COVID-19, social isolation, economic disaster, police brutality, ongoing social division, and one of the most vitriolic and toxic election cycles in recent memory, I was left feeling depressed, lonely, and angry at the state of the world and how far we have fallen as a country. Mind you, this was also the one-year anniversary of breaking up with my then-girlfriend of two years, totaling my car, and saying goodbye to my grandmother before she passed away.
By all accounts, I was not in a good state of mind — quite possibly the worst I was ever in.
In truth, I don’t even remember much of why I downloaded Bumble in the first place. I think I needed a distraction more than anything else, and swiping left and right gave me something to do other than doomscrolling through Twitter or playing “Spider-Man” for like the 80th time. But then I came across your profile, and I saw your bright, beautiful eyes, your warm, inviting smile, and your red hair that burned as brightly as the sun. You were simply stunning, but I saw something else in you even deeper than that. You radiated like no light I had ever seen before.
I didn’t find out until our first coffee date that light didn’t come from an Instagram filter: it came from you. You were exactly everything I had hoped you were: bright, beautiful, kind, radiant, compassionate, funny, sociable, and powerfully empathetic. To this day, I still don’t know what quality of yours entranced me the most. Was it your bright red hair? Your gorgeous smile? Your beaming personality that shone through every word and every laugh?
You told me that you were a behavioral therapist for a developmental clinic in Dallas and worked with children who were on the Autism spectrum. Knowing that I too was on the spectrum worried me and made me wonder if I was the right fit for you. After all, I knew firsthand how difficult individuals on the spectrum could be. After a long day’s work dealing with children still learning who they are, would you want to come home to a man still learning to do the same?
You assured me quickly that my being on the spectrum didn’t scare you or make you feel any differently about me. In fact, you told me “All I see is David, and I’m really enjoying him.” I can’t tell you how liberating that felt to me. All my life, I felt shackled by who I was — by my tunnel-visioned way of thinking, my social awkwardness, and my inability to connect with others. But just like you do with all of your children, you made me feel less like these are inherent negative qualities of myself and more like personal obstacles that I too can overcome. You truly are the only one who ever made me feel free from myself, just as you do for so many other young souls daily.
The next year with you was spent in absolute bliss. I truly do not remember spending a single bad day with you. Whether we were going out to the movies, on spontaneous shopping trips to Target, skipping town for weekend adventures, or just staying in for a quiet, relaxing night at home, everything just felt right with you.
There was never a moment where I questioned us or where we were headed. You became my new home, and I have never felt more secure than when I am with you.
That’s not to say last year was an easy year for either one of us. From personal family tragedies to work-related stresses to that blasted snowmageddon, 2021 was a year of many challenges for us both. Yet, what inspired me most through it all was not the lack of adversity, but rather how you being there made everything easier for me. Through your cute and infectious little laugh to your sweet and sentimental touch to your deep care and compassion, you made every hardship a little easier, every burden a little lighter to bear, every loss a little less devastating. You have and continue to get me through so much on a daily basis. I only hope I do the same for you as you do for me.
Funny enough, my favorite quote that makes me think of you is in, what else, the 2002 Spider-Man film, where Peter finally tells Mary Jane what he truly thinks of her. Because when he describes his emotions, they are all too real for how I feel about you:
“The great thing about MJ is… when you look into her eyes and she’s looking back in yours, everything feels… not quite normal. You feel stronger and weaker at the same time. You feel excited, and at the same time, terrified. The truth is, you don’t know what you feel except you know what kind of man you want to be. It’s as if you’ve reached the unreachable, and you weren’t ready for it.”
It’s for that exact same reason that I wanted to marry you. You not only make me a better man every day. You make everyone around you want to be the best person they can be — because you empower them to be.
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus commanded his followers to shine their light onto the world: “That they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Every day, it’s easy to see that your light is the brightest one there is. Truthfully, the world would be a much better place if more people like you were in it.
So as we head into our first year of marriage and the rest of our lives, I just want to say that I am so, so proud of and thankful for you. You excite me, you empower me, you strengthen me, you embolden me, and you inspire me more than any movie, any filmmaker, any actor, any character or any superhero ever could. That’s because unlike these larger-than-life heroes like Luke Skywalker, James Bond, Spider-Man, Harry Potter, or Frodo Baggins, you are real. And you can make anyone feel like they can fly.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my beloved Meagan Dunn. I can’t wait to spend eternity with you.