What a year it has been , one of ups and downs and twists and turns. It has been one of surprises and small quiet joys that emerged over a long stretch of time. For many of us it has been about learning to look at things a little differently this year and, with those closest to us, learning what it means to serve the other and be just a little more patient than maybe we have all been before.
For our little duo, we felt that we have grown tremendously together in this time and that our heads, hands and hearts were both in good shape and well suited for a lifetime together – so why wait? Over the past three and a half years (plus a few more of friendship), we feel like we have had a lifetime of adventures sailing oceans, climbing volcanoes, hiking mountains and trekking jungles…all the while spending countless wonderful mornings, afternoons and evenings around fires, tables and living rooms contemplating the wonders of the world.
We treasure the beauty, kindness and grace we have been shown both individually and together and look forward to sharing this in our future.
As an important note…a very very important note, there is a sincere and very deep commitment to having a more traditional wedding ceremony and celebration that is able to include the rest of our dear family and friends. Due to the nature of the times, we felt it was best to be respectful of safety and cautious where we should be. We are however looking forward to seeing everyone along with a nice proper wedding ceremony and cheers at a later date.
For those who were not able to attend in real-time, please find below the recording. We hope you feel through the computers connecting us the love between us – and the love connecting us to you!
Jon Mark, two years ago while strolling down a side-street in Madrid you shared what you later said was a joke, the beginning ideas of turning our lives upside down, quitting our jobs and traveling the world together. Unfortunately – or rather, fortunately – you struggle a little with the tone required for sarcasm, and by the time I realized it was a joke, I’d already quit my job and packed my suitcase. We have since realized that as a baseball pitcher you like to think through all your decisions, and as a skydiver I just jump. In this particular situation I think we managed to balance the two, and we jumped, after careful consideration of what we thought lied ahead.
So off into the world we went – bushy tailed and bright eyed – our household belongings sold and only a backpack of clothes to call our own…. straight into the eye of a Pandemic.
COVID 19 brought the world to a halt, but in a strange kind of way, it kick-started our life together. 2020 will be remembered by many as the year of lockdowns, hand sanitizer and pant-less suits – but for me, it will always be the year we strengthened the foundation of our relationship, the year you proposed, and the year we spent an ENTIRE year in Canada ,and the year my family started liking you more than me.
I love that you joining this family has somehow made us all closer – whether it be encouraging your new “Canadian” experiences, re-living so many of our family memories through your eyes, or laughing at your Tennessee-infused Canadian lingo – like how you rake instead of shovel the snow, and your insistence that you wear a toboggan on your head, instead of a toque. (For those in Tennessee, a toboggan in Canada is a sled we use to ride down a snowy hill).
I love that we have spent quite literally every hour of every day of the last year and a half together and we haven’t run out of things to talk about, world problems to solve, politics to debate or ideas to grow.
I love that it takes you days to make a decision I made yesterday – I think we’re a perfect balance to each other’s first instinct.
2021 will now forever be remembered by us both as the year we promised to stand next to each other through thick or thin, through the good and the bad, through pandemics and whatever non-pandemic life looks like.
I promise to be the best teammate I know how to be in this life we’re building together
I promise to correct the people who insist on calling you Jon, ignoring the Mark.
I promise to always appreciate the moments in the moment, not only in a photograph after the fact – but also to keep many photographs so we can remember all of our adventures when we’re old and forgetful – which may not be that far away…
I promise to always embrace your family and your friends as my own, and am grateful to say I already feel we’ve achieved that.
But most importantly, I promise to always jump at the ideas you’re just floating in a half sarcastic tone – because sometimes a baseball pitcher simply needs a sky diver in his life.
And because of all of this, I call upon those persons present both physically and virtually, to witness that I, Tiffany Dawn Grabski, do take you, Jonathan Mark Edward Walls to be my lawful wedded husband.
Jon Mark Walls
Tiffany, I know these are called “wedding vows” and that they are typically composed of “promises” and “commitments”. To be clear, in the most simple terms, today I express my unconditional love and respect for who you were, and who you are, and who you are to become.
Though without question I commit at my deepest levels to love you in our best moments as well as when our lives are hard and complex and when we struggle, somehow those commitments and promises don’t fully capture what I want to say.
A theologian named G.K. Chesterton, once said that courage is a contradiction in terms. That it was at once a strong desire to live, that takes the form of a readiness to die. I feel like love is that way. It is at the same time an incredible enthusiasm to live and thrive in a life together with someone that is blended, strangely, with a sincere readiness to die to oneself.
I take true joy in a love with you that is, itself, composed of beautiful, perfect contradictions.
Our love has grown in contradicting places. We have shared meals together in places ranging from fancy hotel tables at New Years to remote mountain sides in the Alps. We have navigated hot, dense jungles in central America as well as frigid forests in Canada. Each special, each an adventure.
It is a love of contradicting composition. It is a love that is strangely unexplainable, yet fully understandable. A love that is at once mundanely simple in between the gulps of coffees over the course of the day-to-day but also fascinatingly complex between the evening sips of wine reflecting on the constellations of experiences we have lived.
Tiffany you are, yourself, a beautiful, perfect and rare blend of contradictions. In your impressive ambition, you are extraordinarily humble. I delight in helping to cultivate both of these. You love others as deeply and personally as you do widely and inclusively. I take genuine happiness in holding hands with you in living out both. You are a meticulous planner, reserver and orderer, yet comfortable with the open seas, icy slopes, winding roads and, sometimes, maddeningly ambiguous paths of life. I appreciate and treasure each quality.
Tiff, I embrace and delight in these wonderful, poetic contradictions. With all that I have I commit to you and to us. I do so with unconditional love and grace and always will.
I call upon those persons present both physically and virtually, to witness that I, Jonathan Mark Edward Walls, do take you, Tiffany Dawn Grabski, to be my lawful wedded wife.
I love you Tiff.