Twelve years ago was the night before my wedding.

That night, I went out to eat Chinese food with my littler sister and some close friends. We enjoyed each other’s company and laughed and reminisced. Dinner ended and my sister and I headed back to my apartment. I remember the surprisingly cool air. The stars and moon were very bright. I remember looking up at the sky and feeling a sense of wonderment, as if the whole world was open to me that night, that the stars were shining just for me. I felt such joy and excitement for what was to come, that anything was possible.

I had no idea what was to come and I had no idea what marriage really meant. I was young, adventurous, maybe a bit naïve and ready for anything. I felt that all the doors were open to me.

Now, 12 years later, I feel the same feeling that I felt that night.

We’ve been married 12 years, we have four kids and my husband was in an accident almost seven years ago which altered the course of our life. Changing us from a “normal family” to a family with a parent living in pain and with disabilities and all the challenges and growth that come with that.

Yet, I sit here and I can feel what I felt that night. Not as a memory, rather I am actually feeling that excitement, right now, in this moment.

But that sense of excitement isn’t because I’m about to get married tomorrow or because I am a young, adventurous and maybe naive bride.

It is because of the past 12 years of my life.

It is because of 12 years of hard work. Years of learning how to trust, respect and love even when things don’t go as expected. Years of having to focus on the survival of my family more than myself and years of learning how much room there is in my heart. Years of fear, heartache and stress. Years of learning how to cope with shattered dreams and learning how to hope and work for new tomorrows.

It is because of years of learning how selfless I can be and how selfish I can be, and learning how to differentiate between the two. Years of learning what it means to be in a healthy, functional and loving relationship, because of challenges that arise, not despite them.

Our big night

Our marriage is not perfect. Our marriage, like any marriage, takes hard work, patience and effort. But our marriage is strong because we are working on it, together.

For all those reasons I remember that night from 12 years ago; I remember that feeling of wonderment and I am overcome with emotion. After all these years, I still have moments where I feel as if the whole world is open to me. I feel a sense of joy and excitement for what is to come and I feel that anything is possible.

And sometimes, after a long, difficult and rewarding day in my life as a wife, a mother and a human being in this crazy world, I still feel like maybe the stars are shining just for me.