Less, and much more than ten


Today would have been ten years since Ali and I got married back in 2010. To mark it, I’ve written a poem looking back with gratitude over those years, and looking forward in hope.

2010, year one begins
with April wedding down at King’s,
volcanic ash and Byfords nights
where cake makes up for altered flights.
We share a home, she sleeps no more –
Too late she learns I sometimes snore.
Cambridge, Diss and long commutes
(two jobs to pay for Ali’s boots)
Many joys, and sometimes sorrows,
car breaks down, and Ali borrows 
my boxers in the South of France
(Good boy scout, I had clean spare pants)

Year two flows into three and four,
the marriage strengthens that much more.
She talks me into starting LEAD,
she’s rather wise so I concede.
See Brooklyn Bridge and Golden Gates,
dream dreams of life among the States;
start new business, leave a job, 
get made redundant, trust in God.
Try for a year, at last conceive,
a small girl bursts onto the scene.
One month to go, but will she wait?
4 pounds, but quick to put on weight!

Does Ali rest? Not sure she’s learned
to put her feet up when she’s earned
a break but hey! There’s Annabelle
to feed and work to do as well.
This crazy lady, see how she’s
mixed stubborn will with will to please
and will to win at every game,
in badminton she proved me lame,
at Mario Kart I came out top
(but let her win, or she won’t stop!)

She learns the names of all my kin,
we visit York, Southampton, Plym,
East Sheen and Ashford, Mutley Plain
and make the long drives home again.
And then a wriggling, giggling boy
arrives and Luke brings tears and joy
and wipes us out and makes us glad,
our headstrong girl and laughing lad.
And Ali makes a first rate mum;
is two enough? There’s more to come –
but keep exploring all the options,
wait three years, we’ll try adoption!

Somewhere in year seven or eight
we move beyond the Acle Straight,
and plant ourselves beside the sea
while Steve gets wed to Natalie.
And Ali gets the diary out
to stop the family missing out
on time together, family brunches,
barbecues and roasted lunches,
time for games! Stop work and drawing!
Stops us all from getting boring.

Ten would prove the hardest year,
the toughest hurdles yet to clear.
Began with joy and ends so changed
as cancer fell and rearranged
our lofty dreams and best laid plans 
as Ali, held in Jesus’ hands
went home to him who loves her best.
She’s safe in Paradise, the rest
of us are left to mourn her loss –
but cling to hope found at the cross.

My friend, you left a gospel wake
throughout your life, more give than take,
were flawed but Jesus’ grace shone through.
Dear friend and wife to me, and you
with tender heart and loving hand
have made of me a better man.

My friend, He says we’ll meet again,
all pain will be forgotten when
He calls us home, we see his face
rejoicing as we end the race,
or He returns with lightning, blast
of trumpets as this age is past,
the heavens and the earth made new,
the thorns replaced
the ache is through
and all the seeds that fell with tears
in Him, with glory, reappear.
The flowers bloom,
the sleepers wake
the bridegroom cuts the wedding cake.
There’s better yet,
and more to come. 

The story’s only just begun.