~This is a new post~
Romantic love is a subject I don’t often write about for the simple reason it makes me uncomfortable.
I mean, the men I spend time with simply don’t talk about romantic love. And they certainly don’t write about it.
But it’s Valentine’s Day and the love of a woman is an essential part of who I am. So for me not to share some details of my love story because it makes me uncomfortable would shortchange you of the story I’m trying to tell.
A story that remains unfinished. I have chapters to write.
So, right now I can present you with an outline of a story that seems to have enough mystery, enough heartbreak, enough romance, and enough dreaming to make a good little love story.
I saw her when I was 16.
She was standing in the blue framed doorway of her biology class. A catholic school uniform, tan legs, and light brown hair tucked behind her ears. We looked at each other, looked away, only to look at each other again. An exercise we would practice many times over the next 22 years.
In those early years we would lie side-by-side on her twin bed, in her mother’s house, dreaming up names for our children and happy stories for future ourselves the way you do when you imagine winning the tomorrow’s lottery. I shifted my weight and a mattress spring squeaked inside and we laughed because we were just kids, positive our lives would fit the dreams we entertained there on her twin bed.
When I was 23, a year or so before I proposed to Cindy, I asked my father how did he know mom was the one.
We were in his truck. He was driving. I remember watching suburbia flick behind his profile until we stopped at a traffic light. I cleared my thought and asked him, “How did you know mom was the one?”
The light turned green and his right foot pivoted from brake to gas and the truck hummed. He took a breath, smiled, looked at me and said, “I just knew.”
Cindy and I married on June 25, 2005. I was 25. It was a great day. Like a scene from our dreams. We took the long walk up the church aisle, bowed our heads, made promises, took each other’s hand, walked down the aisle, out the double-doors, into the sunlight, rode a trolley to a nearby college campus, smiled and took pictures until our cheeks hurt, trolleyed to the reception hall, and ate and drank and danced until the house lights came on.
Our first child was born on April 9, 2008. I was 28. We leave the hospital together and I’m driving and Cindy is tucked in the passenger seat. Haley is belted in the car seat in the backseat watching the clouds pass the back window. I look over at Cindy and smile and remember what dad told me in his truck four years prior.
On September 5, 2013 an MRI reveal my brain damage. I was 33. Still hand-in-hand, Cindy and I walked down a maze of long hospital hallways together. White, sterile, and linoleum. We ate cafeteria food together. Styrofoam plates and plastic forks. We met a gray-haired man about emergency life insurance. We didn’t dream much in those days. We just held our breath. Sometimes life is like that.
When I didn’t die I decided to write about my life.
I wanted to understand who I was before I got sick, why I got sick, and how I continue to live with the sickness. I wanted my children to know my intimacies. My joys and fears. My strengths and weaknesses. My victories and failures. How I discovered my voice and why I began to write. And most importantly, I wanted my children to know they should never, ever be ashamed of who they are and to always pursue their dreams.
I also wanted my story, my courage to help you with your life. That my search for meaning helped you to discover yours. I wanted to inspire you to aspire. That on those cold nights, my words blew across your embers and kept the heat pumping. Because even though our topography may differ, underneath the soil of adulthood we’re all just kids dreaming for better days.
Three and a half years ago, when I told Cindy I was going to commit myself to writing she hugged me and told me to do it.
She is the best dreaming partner I’ve ever had.
PS (Please Share) – If you know someone who is would enjoy this post please share it with them. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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