For the explanation of my current series, go to the first installment:

Out of Control:
A Christian Parent’s Victorious Struggle with Child Abuse

A Memoir by Kathy Collard Miller

Chapter 12

June 20th

“Honey, this is a really nice restaurant. I’m so glad we came here.” I don’t know why but I’d been surprised Larry had chosen so generously. 

“I thought you would enjoy it. After all, it’s not every day we get to celebrate our seventh anniversary. Happy anniversary!” Larry raised his water goblet into the air. I lifted mine to meet his, gently clinking them together in a toast. 

Seven years before, June 20, 1970, we were married. I could hardly believe it. As I savored my prime rib, I mused over the ten years since I’d met Larry at a high school water polo game. 

“Do you know what the most significant part of our history together is for me?” I reflected out loud. “It is how the Lord used you in my life to bring me to him. If you hadn’t taken me to your church, I might not have heard Jesus wanted me to know him personally. Thank you, honey.”

Larry’s grin caused a flood of emotions to well up within me. It was the same easy-going smile I remembered from our courting days that had made me feel so special. My insecurity had thirsted for his love and acceptance. Those feelings seemed long dead now and a wave of sadness hit me. 

Larry broke into my thoughts. “Sweetie, you look so sad. What are you thinking about?”

Pushing my creamed peas around on my plate, I stammered, “Oh, I was just thinking… about…uh…how you met so many of my needs when we were dating.”

“Well, don’t I meet them now too?” he laughed.

I tried to laugh. “Well, I would love for you to spend more time with me.”

Larry’s smile faded. “Oh, that again. I’ve told you I’m trying to gain financial security for our family and that means I need to work longer hours. Believe me, it’ll pay off in the end. You’ll see.”

My chest tightened in a familiar way I knew so well these days. “Sweetheart, I know you want to do that. But I would rather have you around than money. I want you.” (Tweet that!)

Larry rolled his eyes upward. “You just don’t understand. I’ve explained it to you before.”

Oh no, now we’re going to argue on our anniversary. Boy, did I say the wrong thing. 

“Have you noticed how Mark is sitting up for a few seconds already?” I tried to giggle. “He’s such a good baby. Hope he lives through Darcy picking on him.”

Larry’s effort to laugh at the changed subject made me realize the argument had been dropped. We were at a truce again, but it felt like we both stood on the edge of a precipice and any gust of wind could blow us over into the abyss.

We continued chatting about our upcoming birthdays. We were only four days apart–four days after our anniversary. I tried to stifle a sneaky smile. Larry didn’t know I was planning a surprise party for him. 

I didn’t want to admit to myself my motives were mixed. Of course, I wanted to celebrate his birthday but deep in my heart I hoped he would treat me better if I did something nice for him. Since I’ve always wanted a surprise birthday party, he must want that too. It’s going to be so fun. Wait until he walks in the door.