Happy 40th Birthday!
Today is Arianna’s 40th birthday, and if you want to understand what it is like to be married to a person like her, Marc Chagall’s paintings depict the feeling. She daily does the impossible, loves endlessly, but draws her power from connection. She flies, but she never does it alone. I am fortunate to fly with her, and this is a bit of why I think she is special.
I jumped into life with Arianna two decades ago, and we’ve literally traveled the earth. But the mundane, at-home moments are the best, and there have been years of those. The building times, learning times. Early mornings and late nights. Any achievement that has ever come to her has been a result of diligence and faithfulness. Though she might be the smartest person in the room, she is much more determined to be the one who cares the most. She will always show up for people she cares about. It is amazing.
I think we become the people those we love believe we can be. In other words, we rise to the level of expectation from those around us. Arianna has elevated not only me, but our girls, friends, family, and the countless doctors, nurses, and clinical officers who have trained with her.
Arianna is creative. There has never, in our 18 years of marriage, been a time that our floor hasn’t been covered in glitter. Now she runs a small Cricut factory out of our living room, making decorations for every holiday and special occasion that comes up in Kijabe. She has a compulsion to leave any space more welcoming than when she came, whether our home or the hospital. The world, quite literally, is more beautiful because of her.
Arianna has a hunger for understanding relationships. She reads every spoiler on movies and TV shows we watch. The plot alone isn’t enough – why did the characters make the choices they made? What were the creators thinking? What is coming next? How does it all fit together? She has everyone we know taking personality quizzes and sorting themselves into Harry Potter houses (pottermore.com), not to label people, but to understand them.
It’s this relational eq that undergirds what she is able to accomplish in medicine. If you’re non-medical, you might think it’s a discipline that centers around knowledge, but in reality, medicine is about managing the complex networks of relationships to care for patients in their time of need. Healthcare happens in the real world, with real people, who show up to work with all their humanity on – for better and worse. Even when goals align, working together is complicated.
But even as Arianna usually thrives in unraveling complicated relational situations, this is also her kryptonite. In the rare cases when she can’t resolve a situation, it is very hard for her to let go. There are wounds that have stayed raw for years and decades. The pain fades, but the failures do not disappear.
The upside of this trait is faithfulness. When I look at Arianna’s best friends, many of her closest relationships do go back ten, fifteen, twenty years. Each, year our Valentine’s Day videos feature the same faces. New friends come, but it’s not often that people disappear. This is amazing, despite the distance, despite the time, Arianna is faithful and faithful people gravitate toward her. I marvel at this. We are surrounded by love and support, and this is an incomparable blessing.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg. I consider myself the most fortunate man in the world, to be married to such a person. I hope God grants us many, many more years to fly together. And I trust those to come will be even better than the first.