I remember back to when you turned 29. It was just after we had met, and I wasn't even aware it was your birthday. I had sent you a few ICQ messgaes, wishing you sunny days, and when later we chatted and you told me it had been your birthday I remember thinking: Wow, he's 29. After your 29th, the wheels started spinning. It was shortly thereafter that I truly fell in love with you. It was then that I still didn't know your name. When I told my friends I was "seeing someone" I told them your name was Ur-win. I didn't learn your real name til months later, and found it unbelievable that I could be falling in love with someone whose name I couldn't even pronounce. But I was...I did.
When you turned 30, I had met you face to face, and the reality of my love for you was apparant. It was no longer just a 'thing', but the real thing. On your 30th birthday I called your home, knowing you were having a gathering with friends. The time difference was huge back then. I tried to call to wish you my love on your birthday before the arrival of your friends, but I didn't make it. I remember hearing your voice on the line and all the voices in the background and being so jealous that they had you there, while all I could do was call from afar. As I told you to go and enjoy your party, what I really wanted to say was: Can't you just stay here and talk to me all night? But I let you go and we talked the following day (everyday back then, remember the phone bills?)and you told me you had fun....but that you wished I could have been there with you too. And then you reminded me that it was just a few short months til I arrived in Holland and we'd be sure to celebrate then. And I was happy, knowing I'd have you all to myself.
When you turned 31, we had started our little family and were just beginning life in our new home in Rijpelberg. I was so happy to be there with you, so thrilled to be living the European dream. I wasn't yet homesick, wasn't yet in culture shock, was just enjoying all the cool newness of my life with you. Kaeden was just our sweet little kid without all the issues yet to encounter, and we were sincerely enjoying life as a family. Learning about each other as we celebrated not only you, but being together on such a special ocassion.
When you turned 32, I had given you the best gift any woman can give a man. A son, a tiny little replica of you. Even today, as I watch you father our son, I am in awe of the information you know and your love of the world you share with him. He was a replica of you then, and he's growing to be a replica of you now, but in interests and knowledge. If there is something I love most about you, it's the passion with which you parent our little boy, the excitement you bring into every experience. Not just with jari, with all of us, but most especially Jari. I love watching the two of you interact. 32 and a baby boy to nurture and love. A role you have pursued with grandeur and continue to excel at.
33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39,....each of these birthdays was celebrated with me by your side, whether on a ship to England or eating turkey dinner with Sinterklaas as our special guest. You give me the courage to pursue the things I love, celebration! Celebration of you, on your birthdays, celebration of my husband, the man I love, the man I treasure.
Today you turn 40. 40, somewhat of a milestone year. You don't want any surprises, you don't want it to be more than just another birthday. You want the peace of just being you, a man on your birthday, a father and a husband, a lover of history and world happenings. You want to be recognized as the man you are, sharing pies with your colleagues at work, a quiet celebration at home with family. Blowing out your candles, opening your presents, settling in with your computer to relax after providing all of us with all the goodness in our lives after a long day at work. 40. And here I am, still standing next to you, still reveling in the magic of being called your wife, still in disbelief that we have each other to fall back on, to laugh with, to discuss this life we have created. And as I watch you age, from that jongen in size 32 jeans with curly hair going op stap with friends, to the man with greys shining through the curls and you belt a few notches bigger, I can't help but bewonder you. Every year, I have fallen more in love with you. Every year, I am more attracted to you. Every year, I feel more confidence in what we have reached together. Every year, I know you are someone I can count on and turn to. Every year, I wish you a Happy Birthday.
This year, I wish you a Happy 4oth Birthday. May it be just what you're hoping, and the beginning of more wonderful adventures. I love you, man of my dreams (even more than way back when...)!