Once upon a time in a life long-removed from the one I lead, my Prince Charming invited me into his castle and into his heart. Can it really be 27 years ago when I knew I’d found my forever Valentine? That the snows fell on top of bare footprints left on the patio in front of a sizzling grill? That a house I barely knew was already starting to become my own, my future?

The gleaming three-single-guy kitchen became something magical when seen only by the light of candles standing in borrowed candleholders. Wineglasses filled with deep burgundy reflected flickering flames, but my dinner date’s smile burned even brighter. How could I not fall in love with this man—and his slightly slobbery but ever adoring springer spaniel who sat attentive at his feet?

(c) 1987 Trina Lange

(c) 1987 Trina Lange

So many adventures, so much laughter, so much joy, alongside so much loss—such is a life well-lived together. Despite fairy tale expectations of romance, it’s in the staying and helping each other where we show a lifetime commitment to love. We are no longer those young people beginning our journey together, yet we remain together on this journey, come what may.

And come what may, may we never forget to keep the candles—and the sense of possibility—burning in our lives together.