Marbles Kids Museum this afternoon, we headed to the new Yellow Dog Bread Company to try it out.
As we hopped back in the car to head home, I took a sniff of the strong, dark roast coffee Shawn brought with him in a paper to-go cup, and it triggered a hundred memories. It brought me back to the earliest days of Shawn-and-Whitney, when we attended Grace Chicago in a small theater space just west of our school. We'd catch the #66 bus down Chicago Avenue on so many bitter cold mornings to attend the service.
There were low lights and velvet seats. There was a table full of fresh pastries, inviting congregants to feast. There was strong coffee swirled with cream, steaming from orange paper mugs. There was pensive worship, with a lead singer and a string consort who led with excellence and poise. There was a pastor who cried at the mention of grace.
The smell of that coffee brought me back, and it felt like I could've been back on Chicago Avenue, sitting quietly in that dimly lit room. The memory was so sweet it was painful. Painful because, even after many years, I still really miss the city.
What's sweet, though, is that I don't have to be alone in the remembering. I don't have to be alone in the missing, either. Shawn was there, too, tasting the coffee and the worship.
He was there when we'd bundle up and trudge through snow to the nearest Argo Tea to "study" - which actually involved a lot more learning about each other than learning our school curriculum.
He was there at the McDonalds on Ohio Street when he asked me on a real date and my face flushed red before I could even say yes.
He was there on our comical honeymoon cruise to central America when "jungle adventure" actually meant "incredibly depressing tour of hurricane-ravaged Mexico."
There when we photographed a wedding for a bridezilla and nodded in agreement: never again.
There when my water broke all over the seat of his car and we nervously knew it would be a matter of hours before our lives changed forever.
There in so much hurt, and there in so much joy.
He's here for the memories we're making today, too, and hopefully libraries full of memories we have yet to make. Here as we pass the days living in a basement, waiting not-so-patiently for the keys to our first house. He's here when I pull him into Liam's room to watch him sleep, while we smile with happy tears just under the surface. He's the one person in the universe who effortlessly understands when I ask, "Remember when ___?" and I hardly have to continue.
Traveling this bumpy, winding road by his side is so much better than going it alone.