There are a few occasions in life that require giving cards – Valentine’s Day is one. But when your love is time-tested and your feelings are deep and complex, someone else’s words on a drugstore greeting card simply don’t suffice.
There’s the sappy:
I love to think about
all the ways
that you’ve brought
happiness to my life….
It’s just that
there aren’t enough words to describe
all that you mean to me.
Simply, with you
and the silly:
Flattery will get you to 2nd base.
There’s the sentiment for naive, untested love:
I love so you much because
When you kiss me I feel kissed forever.
When you make me laugh,
I know the rest of my life will be happy.
When you put your arms around me,
I know I’ll never be alone.
and for insecure love:
I love you just the way you are…
willing to put up with me.
There’s the self-centered:
is all it takes to convince me
that love was invented just for us.
and the I’m-unable-to-fully-express-my-feelings-by-using-a-pronoun:
Couldn’t do without you.
Wouldn’t change a thing about you.
Love you so much.
And yet, when I sit down with a pen and blank card in front of me, I suddenly have writer’s block. My head is full of “I love you but…what am I going to make for dinner tonight?” “I’m glad I married you but…I’ve already told you that on the last 23 Valentine’s cards.” “I’m happy you’re my partner in this life…can you pick up the kids from school today?”
We have been together through good times and bad, and we know there is more of each to come. We have laughed together and we have cried together. We have supported each other and we have let each other down. We have kissed each other and we have yelled at each other – sometimes on the same day! How can all of this – the fact that no matter what is behind us, no matter what is ahead, I want you by my side – be captured on a card?
This Valentine’s morning, as I was bustling around the kitchen, making coffee and kids’ lunches with NPR on in the background, I clearly heard a woman’s voice. I stopped to really listen, because she was expressing my feelings.
You’re sitting across from me at the table. It’s our date night, something we don’t do often enough. This is what’s between us: Refinancing our mortgage, investing in the kids’ 529’s, our parents getting older, a bigger car, our work, fatigue, the next family vacation, time. We wonder loosely whether to go with the mushroom tortellini or the shrimp risotto.
I look at you. Deeper than I’ve had the breath to do in weeks.
There are new lines on your face, each one a story of concern for us, your family. I look at you, only half-hearing the words of explanation and regret.
“You’re not listening to me,” you say.
I look at your face, the face I’ve loved every day since I met you, and this is what I want to say:
This morning I woke up to something complete — to you, the simple sound of you, steady and warm. This morning I woke up and all the things that unsettle me, keep me hurtling forward, were for that moment hushed, because you were there. This morning, before the sun split the sky, the world was perfect, because our children were near in their beds and I was next to you.
This morning you walked out the door after a short kiss and we went on with our days. The small and large crises, the trifling errands, the lost instruments and heartbeats, the contracts and calculations, the needs of others wrestling with our own wants — but you kept coming back to me. In moments at the computer, on the road, in conversation, I was reminded of you, and why my life is always brimming.
I was reminded of you — the man who looked at me and said, Yes.
You are sitting across from me at the table. It’s our date night, and you are right. I’m not listening. I’m just holding you with my eyes and thinking, You. Always You. Only. You.