I remember vividly our sixth and final breakup.
There I sat, stunned, my pinkened skin marinating in hot chlorinated water, watching helplessly as you walked out the door.
You didn’t turn to say goodbye. You didn’t even glance back.
Having resolved to stop thinking about me, about us — looking ahead was all that was left for you to do.
This was not what I had planned for. All I had wanted was to hang out in the hot tub, basking in the spring sunshine while enjoying the sight of you in a bathing suit.
Instead, we started talking about life, then slid into love, finally careening into what we wanted out of a relationship.
Midway through that final portion, you’d come to the conclusion that what we had wasn’t love.
And I couldn’t argue.
I was too young, too naive to know what it meant to love you. I tried to persuade you otherwise, but the emptiness of my efforts spoke louder than anything I might say.
I had spent our previous nine months together protecting myself — playing a role that demanded everything from you and little from me.
I had tried my best to be arrogant and macho and everything else I’d “seen” in male role models that seemed immune to the hurt of relationships.
I hadn’t wanted to be hurt again. I’d been burnt in a previous relationship, but this, seeing you walk out the door, hurt more than anything I’d ever felt before.
At that moment a thought exploded inside of me, sending shock waves through every limb.
“If I never see her again, she’ll never know the real me.”
I’d been a fake all this time, and it had cost me the nicest, most genuine girl I’d known.
So I sat there and cried, my big fat tears dripping off my cheeks and pocking the film of hot tub foam below.
17 years later
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” — Mignon McLaughlin
You walking out that fateful spring awoke in me a warrior, determined to battle night and day to gain your trust — proving that I was capable of learning to love you as you deserved.
I admit I’ve cried many times since that afternoon.
Fortunately, not one tear has ever again been shed from fear of losing you. Instead, they most often overflow from reserves of love that, like roaring rivers, have cut deeper with each day we’ve shared together.
17 years later I understand what it means to love, but marvel at how much I have left to learn about loving you.
Each day I wake certain that I can’t possibly love you more, but by nightfall, you’ve yet again proved me wrong.
If only you were less caring, less patient, less amazing. Then, finally, I’d have a chance at catching up.
What I’ve learned of love
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Lao Tzu
You know me better than anyone.
There’s nothing I’ve not shared with you, not one inch of my dirty laundry you’ve not seen or smelled at its most pungent. Instead of recoiling, you consistently pick up each scrap of me and lovingly hold me in your hands.
The way you treat me, treat everyone around you, exudes the purest form of love that I’ve ever known.
You’re not perfect and neither am I, but somehow we find perfection in each other daily. The perfect meal, the perfect walk, the perfect sunset or kiss or hug.
What I’ve learned is that with your love in hand, perfection is always within reach. Without it, my life would be hopelessly empty.
Love has given us 16 years of blissful memories. It’s blessed us with four energetic and happy boys. It’s carried us through the death of both our mothers.
Trying to imagine any of that without you, without your love, is impossible.
Somewhere along our journey, love became more than an expression or an emotion.
It became the core element on our periodic table. As real as the air that we breathe or the gravity that binds us to the earth together.
It makes anything possible, which makes nothing improbable.
Moving our family half way across the world? Done it. Spending a year traveling the world while homeschooling our boys? Let’s do it. Starting a business together? I couldn’t imagine a better partner to build a financial future for our family.
Thank you for teaching me, by walking out my door so many years ago, what life might be like if I filled it trying to love you.
You’ve become more than worth fighting for.
You’ve become the meaning of my life.