Most couples who start dating as young as we did don't last. That's not me trying to be negative, that's just a simple fact.
When I met your son, he was 16 and a sophomore in high school. I was 17, about to graduate and go away to college. Logistically, most couples like us don't last.
When I met you, though, I was still hoping you'd like me.
I was still hoping that we would connect and whatever amount of time I ended up spending with him, and with you, would be a positive experience for all of us.
There were two things I didn't count on happening. The first was our relationship surviving as long as it has. Don't get me wrong, I adore your son and he's my favorite person on the planet, but I was unsure how well we would do while I was in college and he was still in high school (hold the cougar jokes, please). The second was the love you embraced me with.
To his mother and his stepfather:
Over the past two and a half years, you have given me so much, taught me so much, and loved me so much. Considering how young we were and how temporary I could've been, you didn't have to accept me and include me as you did. You could've kept your distance, like a lot of people would, so it wouldn't be as sad if we did break up. But that's not what you did.
I was nervous for probably the first month I started coming around. I was so anxious for you to like me. I really didn't need to be, though, because you welcomed me into your home as if I'd been around forever. You invited me to come to church with you, and therefore into your spiritual lives. You invited me around for the holidays and family dinners. You brought me on vacations. I got birthday and Christmas gifts, Valentine's cards; you name it, I was included.
Before long I realized how much I looked forward to being around you. I love being a part of this family. I can't thank you enough for bringing me in and loving me like one of your own kids. Your love and everything you've done for me means more than you could ever know, especially considering you didn't have to do any of it. You could have kept your distance, but you didn't.
You've taken me to your favorite place in the world. You stood with me while I was baptized. You've watched me jump around jobs and try to figure my life out, and have always been supportive. You've trusted me with your dogs, and your home. Most importantly, you've trusted me with the happiness of your son.
You are two of the most caring, loving, and wonderful people I've ever met in my life. I've learned so much from you both. I'm blessed to have met your son, and I'm blessed that he came with parents like you.
To his father:
I was almost more nervous to meet you than anyone else. I didn't meet you until after a few months of seeing your son, and by then, I'd already gotten pretty comfortable with the rest of the family. He spoke so highly of you and told me he couldn't wait for me to meet you. I was afraid I wouldn't get your approval.
You made it so easy. You're fun to talk to, and there's never any awkward silences. You've gone out of your way to invite me along as much as possible. I appreciate you always trying to include me, and I can't express how much it meant to me when you invited me to spend the holidays with your family, too. They're all just as warm to me as you are.
You're one of his favorite people. I'm very thankful for the bond we've formed. I'm always up for a hike, no matter how much I complain. I know we haven't gotten to spend as much time together as I have with the other side of the family, but you mean just as much to me as they do.
Thank you all for raising the best man I've ever met, and for welcoming me into your family.