The surprise isn’t the house with a big island in the kitchen and elevated backyard deck.

It isn’t the two perfect, crazy, wonderful boys who fill that house with smiles and joy.

It’s not the cancer diagnosis, or the family struggles, or even the death.

We’ve always known that life is going to happen to us and around us, no matter what. And we were fortunate enough to learn early on in our relationship that we could handle the worst of times together.

 The surprise is surprise.

It’s the fact that even after seven years together I am still learning new things about this man I chose.

It’s the moments when our brains are totally in sync and we say the same things. It happens everyday and yet we are always excited and shocked when it does. “Get out of my head!”

It’s the “lets try Thai food” or “want to drive up to the cabin tonight?” moments. The ability to still have spontaneity, even with two kids in tow.

It’s the kitchen filled with laughter as we dance around like fools to embarrassing Pandora stations.

It’s the midday texts about whether or not Jon Snow is really dead and who we should start in Fantasy football that week.

It’s the intimate moments. The sweet caresses and first-date butterflies in my stomach that have never gone away.

I told Derek at the alter that he wasn’t the man of my dreams.

I said, “this isn’t a fairytale and you’re not the man of my dreams. You’re the man of my reality, which is so much better.”

Four years later, I still know that this life of mine is far greater than anything I could have made up in my head. 

And I know we have a lifetime of surprises to look forward to.

Happy Anniversary Derek. I love you forever, and far longer.