We met and he told me he had gone to school in my hometown. I had little faith in men and relationships and I did not believe him. I thought it was a line. But then I realized it was true and I felt the comfort of connecting with someone who shares your roots and who understands where you come from. It felt like home.
I was someone who did not become attached to people easily. I ended many fledgling relationships quickly. I did not mind moving away or moving on.
He did not try to impress me. He did not try to wine or dine me. He simply wanted to spend time with me. He wanted to show me the trails he loved. He wanted to talk to me and just be together.
We hiked. We ran. We talked. We kissed.
I enjoyed his company. We shared a similar sense of adventure. We traveled.
We raced. We started thinking about the possibility of a future.
He was not jealous or possessive. He did not grill me about my past. He was willing to listen if there was something I wanted to talk about, but he did not push me for details. He asked questions but did not demand answers.
I enjoyed the simplicity of our relationship. We spent hours, days, weekends together. The conversations were not forced. We did not agree on everything, but we when we disagreed, we did so respectfully. We were alike, but we were not the same.
We laughed and had fun. We shared dreams and goals. He listened to my darkest secrets and they did not scare him.
He was kind to my daughter. He was playful and fun and enjoyed being with her.
I fell in love with him. We planned a life of adventure and outdoor endeavors. We were young and healthy and took it for granted that we would always be so.
We had a baby. He was a beautiful father. He loved me. He loved our girls. We were a loving family of four.
I had a simple surgery that went terrible wrong. He brought my damaged body home from the hospital. I was in excruciating pain. I never thought I would be the same. I couldn’t leave the house many days. I was 35. He cleaned me and cared for me. He could have left. This was not the life he had signed up for. But, of course, he did no such thing. He is loyal and caring and kind.
Eventually we found a doctor who could fix the damage. Gradually I got better. After a couple of years, we were going on adventures together and having fun again. We raised our family together. We went to band concerts and gymnastics and cross country and karate and all of the other kid activities together. We ran and hiked and laughed and played. We made wonderful memories. We took it for granted that we would grow old together.
I got cancer. He brought me in for surgery and waited in the waiting room. He tended to me in the hospital. He brought me home on one of the coldest days I can ever remember. He walked around the block with me in the frigid cold, holding me so I would not fall on the ice.
He went to every chemotherapy appointment. He cared for me and the girls while I was sick. He held me every single night because the girl who previously needed no one actually needed him desperately.
And gradually, I got better. We went on with our lives, forever altered and different. We were damaged and weary, but still in love.
I love him because he takes out the garbage. I love him because he takes the girls ice skating and swimming and skiing and to the amusement park.
I love him because he repairs the fence and because he puts air in Riley’s tires. I love him because he is reliable and hard-working and honest.
I love him because he whether I say, “I want to get a dog” or “I want to run 100 miles”, he says, “OK, go ahead and do it. I support you.” I love him because he has cared for me when I could not care for myself.
I love my husband more today than I did in the early months of of our relationship. There is passion and intrigue in those early months, and it feels like love, but it really is not. Love comes after you build a life together. Love comes when you spend days together with your baby, who is in the NICU. Love grows as you share time and experiences together. Love happens when you learn each other’s stories, fears, and passions. Love is tested as you face adversity together. Love develops when you hold each other’s hands as you go through hell and back together.
Love happens when you spend years together. Happy Anniversary, honey. We have been through so much together. Thank you for sharing this flawed and beautiful life with me.