Happy Valentine's Day!
I've reflected for some time about just what would be an appropriate post for this particular blog on this particular day. Should I rail against the unjust juxtaposition of deep love and in a time of deep discrimination? Should I take on the Republican presidential hopefuls who spar with each other but remain united in scapegoating Danielle and me? Maybe I should, and maybe I will...one day.
Today, I want only to be thankful.
In high school and college, I spent many years dreading Valentine's Day. Tongue firmly in cheek, I referred to it as "Singles Awareness Day" and marked the holiday with increased chocolate consumption and a prayer in my heart that I would one day have a Beloved to share the day with. That day finally came and with it, blessings beyond my most audacious hopes and creative imaginings. Danielle and I have been together for almost 8 years, but I never stop marveling at what a gift she is in my life. She is my joy and my strength, and I need her more than ever these days.
This past year has been enormously challenging for Danielle and me. I lost my job last spring due to budget cuts. This was right around the time we first started trying to get pregnant. In the middle of our five months of fertility treatments, my grandfather died. We continued to fix up our first home. I started a new job in August, and it has absolutely drained me of time and energy. Nevertheless, we managed to plan, finance, and actually show up for our wedding in September. (More posts about that to come.) People often throw around phrases like, "I couldn't have done it without you," and, "You're a lifesaver," but I am here to attest that I would not have survived from last February 14th until now without Danielle's love and patience. At least not without straightjackets involved.
These days, it is not uncommon for me to be at work from 6:50 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and to bring more paperwork home to do while watching "West Wing" with Danielle. (Yay, Netflix!) Danielle and I used to split up a lot of the household chores and responsibilities, but now I come home each night to find that she has already prepared a delicious dinner and started a load of laundry. She runs most of the errands and does the dishes and daily maintenance needed to keep our family unit running. Moreover, she has not complained about it but instead has made these sacrifices with patience and a loving heart.
I don't make it easy for her. I have occasional depression and anxiety about work, which causes me to have difficulty sleeping and leaves me feeling terribly down on Sunday nights. (I hold onto my precious weekends with such a grip I must have traces of Saturday embedded in my fingernails.) When I wake up in the middle of the night in tears, Danielle holds me, soothes me, rubs my shoulders, and speaks words of reassurance. On nights when I toss and turn as fitfully as the struggles in my mind, she reminds me to breathe and recites back to me all the good she sees in me. She won't let up on showing me the light in myself until I can begin to see it on my own.
She could tell me to suck it up and just get over it, but she never does.
This is grace, pure and simple.
So, you can see how buying her a bouquet of roses for Valentine's Day won't quite cut it. There's nothing I can give, do, or say, no gesture grand enough to thank her for choosing me. For sticking by me when I'm a prickly mess. For loving me "as is".
Hopefully, she'll think a blog shout-out is romantic. (Don't worry, folks. I've got more surprises up my sleeve. I'm not THAT cheap!)
Happy Valentine's Day to my road trip companion, best friend, source of my belly laughs, hot mama, mind reader, caretaker, generous heart, genius of cooking a PERFECT fried egg, harmonizing voice, welcome home hug, partner, and wife. I love you more deeply every day and know we'll make it through whatever else life throws at us because we are us. And we work. We fit. We are SO good together. I remain deeply in love with you and am filled with optimism about the adventures we'll have between now and next Valentine's Day.
p.s. Take note, Republicans: If Danielle's example is any indication, gay marriage isn't going to destroy traditional marriage. However, it may damn well raise the bar.