kayaking on lake superior Fourteen years ago, we stood in front of a judge and made a promise to each other.

There are things I didn't understand at the time. Like what it means to have a partner and co-conspirator in everything. Of course, I already knew how beautiful, smart, and caring you were. But to grow together; to be there for each other; to feel loved through all of life's ups and downs. That's something amazing.

Early on in our relationship, we were at another wedding. You told me later that you knew that would never be the two of us. You're seldom wrong, but I'm glad you were wrong about that!

My favorite memory is our camping trip to South Dakota. We stayed in the Black Hills and had planned a day trip to Devil's Tower. After stopping there, you mentioned that you'd never seen a mountain before. So, of course, we decided to drive half-way across Wyoming to see the Rockies.

We pulled over at a scenic vista. On top of the cement pull-off sign was etched a love note from many years ago. I don't remember the couple's names; something like "Fred (hearts) Beth" and the date. Underneath that, written more recently with felt marker, was another note "Fred and Beth, back again." Dated 40 years later. Even though we were just dating, I knew that would be us some day.

14 years isn't 40 years, but it's a good start.

Things haven't always been easy. We've had to learn what "in sickness and in health" means... and we've been fortunate that the vows included "for richer or poorer" but not "or really poorer." But, nothing we've faced has felt insurmountable because I've always had you by my side.

I've loved every day of our grand adventure together and I can't wait to go back to our own spots and write "Ben (hearts) Dawn, back again 40 years later."