Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To My Beautiful and Loving Wife of 20 Years

Twenty Years ago, today, Kristi and I committed our lives to each other in Lubbock, Texas. We were kids, for the most part; right out of college (Texas Tech University), and ready to face the world. I was deeply in love with her, and I still am. Not to get too mushy, but Kristi and I are true soul mates. We think each others thoughts and depend on each other without reservation. I know, in all things, that Kristi will be there for our family. She is beautiful, both inside and out, and is strong, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I cannot imagine life without her.

With the demands of life and work and kids, we tend to go about our lives, Kristi taking care of her unofficial duties for our family, and I taking care of other things to keep our family running. We work together pretty well, and we always have...we're a good team.

Most days here in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins / Kennedy Krieger. We wake up (last night was my night at the hospital), get Jessie ready for rehab, meet for breakfast, do some work for our actual jobs (BNSF and Alcon), then get ready to go over to take care of Jessie when she gets out of rehab for the day. Somewhere in there, we take care of bills, minor emergencies back home, and day-to-day tasks here.

This morning was a little different. We met for breakfast, and we both wished each other a happy anniversary. We joked a little bit about 20 years being the gauze year for gifts(you know, like 50 is gold, 75 is diamond)...anyway we both thought that was funny in our sick sense of humor. Honestly, neither of us thought about getting the other a gift. We both knew that we had more important things to do with Jessie. There's nothing like having a sick child to remind you how material things aren't really that important.

So, our plans for the night were simple. We would let Jessie play in the playroom with volunteers while we went back to Children's House for a romantic anniversary dinner of leftovers from the night before. The funny thing is that we were perfectly happy with that. We're pretty simple that way. We were looking forward to a little time away from the hospital.

Well, as we were getting ready to leave the room, we look up and in walks our dear friend Caren Jennings from Aledo. We were so stunned, we didn't know what to say. With Caren, was Jane Stefanik and her daughters Sammie and Nikkie. It must have been quite amusing to look at our shocked faces, with jaws on the floor, trying to figure out what was going on. I can't imagine how silly we were, as we stammered for words and tried to hide our embarrassment of not being shaven or made-up...we were definitely "hospital chic", and NOT expecting company.

So, Jane and Caren tell us that they have a surprise for us downstairs, and here is what was waiting for us.

This is the Vending Machine Room at Kennedy Krieger. Well Caren and Jane and the girls had transformed it into a 5-star restaurant. Kristi and I both shed tears of gratitude for such a thoughtful gift.
Complete with candles, champagne, and cards from many friends back home in Aledo, we were seated to a wonderful Mexican dinner, while Caren stayed with Jessie upstairs.
Our musician for the evening was Jane's beautiful daughter Sammie, who played tirelessly for us during the entire evening. We asked her to come talk to us, and she politely told us that the evening was for us and that her job was to play for us. We all got to talk later up in Jessie's room.

This is Jane. She is a selfless woman who has become our friend in Baltimore and has been so nice to us. She has brought cupcakes to the kids in KKI, and dinner for us, and is ready to work for The Hemispherectomy Foundation. She is an angel. The flowers behind her are from Denise Koch, Jack, Meg, and Jo...thanks guys.

Here is Caren, after flying across the country to help us out in Baltimore. She is once again outdoing herself. I don't think that this woman ever sleeps. She collects our mail, runs the foundation at home, mails out orders from the Pinkalicious Boutique ( , sends care packages to kids who are having hemispherectomies, and plans surprises like this.

If anyone can think of an appropriate Thank You for these two ladies, please let us know, because we honestly can't think of a way to properly say "Thank You".

Here we are having our 20th Anniversary dinner. Now you know what "hospital chic" looks like. What a beautiful table.

Macey and Lilly came down to visit and they danced for us, while Sammie played Sonata on the Violin.
After dinner, Kristi and I went for a walk around the hospital and reflected on our journey.

Here is the group of Jessie's Angels that gave us a 20th Anniversary surprise that we will NEVER forget. God Bless You guys. If you are reading this, please know that we are grateful beyond words and you will always hold a special place in our heart.

Kristi and Cris


I also wanted to let you know about a little boy from Azle (near Aledo) who had a hemispherectomy today in Detroit. His name is Logan Sylva, and he had a stroke when he was a baby. Please say a prayer for Logan and his mom Mary. Logan is such an inspiration. They are so far from home, and could use some prayers from afar.

In addition, a little girl named Sarah is going to have a hemispherectomy in Cincinnati on Friday. Please say a prayer for this sweet little girl as well. After you read her blog and see her picture, you will understand why I always say that Rasmussen's only attacks the cute little kids. Sarah is such a sweetie. God Bless the Alwards, their family, friends, and community.

God Bless the Alwards and the Sylva family.


Anonymous said...

what a wonderful couple! congratulations on 20 years! i am blessed each and every time i read jessies blog! i am wearing pink, and will be there to welcome you home soon ! melanie

Anonymous said...

Peggy for Corinth TX

What a wonderful anniversary surprise Happy Anniversary!!! Best Wishes and May next year be with the family all together happy and healthy!! God Bless

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that it turned out so beautifully! Jane and Caren, you two are absolutely amazing!

I also wanted to note a special thanks to Amanda at Wine Styles, who overnighted a bottle of bubbly champagne from Hudson Oaks, TX (near Aledo). I appreciate your generosity on behalf of this anniversary surprise! sure to visit their new location over by Wal-Mart. Or stop in on a Thursday evening to check out their wonderful wine tasting events!!!

They are located at:

WineStyles - Hudson Oaks #206
200 S. Oakridge
Suite 100
Hudson Oaks, TX 76087
Phone: 817-341-2166

Anonymous said...

HAPPY 20th ANNIVERSARY!! And may the next 20 be as special as the first 20. Love like yours is so rare!

Love from Texas
The Campbells

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary Cris and Kristi. Congratulations on 20 years, and wishes for 20 more.

Caren and Jane obviously are very selfless people, and love you all very much!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary!

Jane and Caren are both amazing women. I am so glad that they were able to honor you in such a special way!

Hugs from TX,

Grapevine, TX

Kate said...

Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on 20 years! That is wonderful. Jane and Caren must be amazing woman. What a blessing to have them in your lives!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on 20 years!! This is another blog that gave me goosebumps and made me cry! Love like what the two of you have is rare in the world today and it is great to see that it still exist!!! Jane and Caren are truly wonderful people! Congrats again!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary to both of you. What an inspiration your family has been to my family. We sent Jessie a card today. Ya'll don't know us, but we pray for your family daily. Jessie looks AWSOME. Two years ago, my nephew at 9 months old, underwent cranio surgery for a premature fusing of the metopic sucture (not sure of spelling). It was one of the hardest things we had ever gone thru. He is doing great and unless his little hair is to short you would never know. Jessie is looking great and things seem to be rolling in her direction. We will continue to keep you in our prayers. Sharon Smith, Dallas Texas

Anonymous said...

God Bless! What a wonderful surprise--for all of us readers too! Caren must be more than Jessie's angel...she is the Hall's angel. I can't get over her thoughtfulness and compassion and action! She is one in a million And how special your Baltimore friends are as well to lend such romance and ambiance to this important date. Happy Anniversary.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris & Kristi,
Congratulations on 20 years of marriage! I hope the next 20 are even better for you. You are an amazing couple... You have some pretty terrific friends, too! Thanks for
all the updates and pictures.
God bless you.

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments. Number one: What a beautiful tribute to your wife and your marriage. And secondly, how else is one supposed to cope with how real life is except by the Grace of God and a darn good sense of humor? My family and I can certainly identify with that! Hang in there.

Chris R. said...

Hey guys - It is so crazy that it has been 20 years since that engagement party at 14th street and that wedding in Lubbock. We were all kids back then and we were all together as friends. It is cool to see your good friends from Aledo doing such amazing things for you guys. We love you guys and hope to see you soon....

Chris and Cody