I can’t pinpoint the exact moment we met, but I remember your passing me in the hallway in college and catching my eye in the best way. You were energetic and willing, jumped at any chance at a fun activity, and cared immensely for others. We became fast friends and soon best friends over the next year. And while we both spent time interested in others, it was your phone calls throughout the summer I enjoyed the most….it was you I was most comfortable with. Christmas passed the next year, and I remember it all so clearly: the smiles during swing dancing in the hall, the sitting close until our knees touched, the movie with friends that our friends *happened* to not show up to. I wouldn’t let myself think deeper into it all, our friendship was my favorite thing. I should’ve known though, that along the way something had shifted, maybe in the way I was excited every time I heard you arrive at my door, the way I loved it when you were around, how I was sad to see you leave…
And you sat down next to me the first week we started dating and told me, “I come from a long line of faithful and persistent men…and I intend to be nothing short of that.” …you’ve lived out that promise through everything, only leaning into it more during the hard and heavy instead of leaning away. We took many car rides to our go-to talking spot, each time filled with more realizations at the growing problems that surrounded us…I was learning along with you about where I’d come from, and you were calming fears about where we’d go.
…You always calmed fears. And you did it most through your ever-loving actions and continual chase after me.
The next year was a blur, all the good mixed in with the bad. Our months apart were full of sweet letters and then happy reunions. We spent sun soaked, cherry picking days in Montana while I was living on 2-3 aspirin a day. There were ER visits and MRIs, date nights and sports games, but your packed schedule still fit in time to take care of me. We worked through misunderstandings as we faced this new territory, both frightened and confused by the events but always coming back to each other. I loved that year and I hated that year as my health declined and moved home, … I hated that it took me away from everyone and everything I loved, but I loved that it brought us closer together. My health seemed to switch overnight, and along with the changes came every. single. fear. and. insecurity. Most I didn’t even realize I had. We had no choice but to mature that year, and quickly learned what harmed and what soothed in relationships. We fought against the blank test results and the clueless doctors, and sometimes each other, but we never stopped fighting for each other.
And that year was only a precursor of what was to come. I jumped in your arms when the test results finally showed something, then sank the next day when I realized what it all meant. I lost family and friends that year along with school and what I could see of a future, but you were the one thing that remained, steady and determined to stay. You carried me through more than we could’ve imagined, very literally too, and though it killed you to see me in constant pain, it never pushed you away, much different than what we faced around us.
I woke up one rainy morning to one of the several days of depression, and I was later presented with a note from you with a clue. I willed myself to get dressed, my spirits lifting, as I realized what you had in mind for that day. I followed clue after clue at each special location around Denver until I finally arrived at the rooftop of a restaurant, overlooking the whole city, with you standing there with the largest smile. You got down on one knee and I knew of no other answer than the one that would give me you forever.
A year and three months later we stood out in the pouring rain and said our vows. It was the sweetest day despite the weather, kind of like our relationship despite all the trials. The sweetest because…it was you. It’s always been you. We were surprisingly calm, and too overly excited to shed any tears, and we danced the night away on what felt like the best day ever.
The months after our honeymoon have shown the deepest of trenches and the darkest of tunnels. And it’s your voice that I still hear every time I’ve wanted to quit, each time the doctors speak of liver failure or unknown answers, pointing me towards purpose and His promises. All of the sickness, vomiting, ice refills throughout the night, foot rubs, leg rubs, meals cooked, and the constant care…you’ve done it all without blinking, and you’ve given 100% to each area and to me. This season keeps bringing us surprises and it’s such an oxymoron for us: the worst of times keep making us better.
You’re really the bright spot in all of this.
Maybe it’s the way your hand feels in mine or the way you throw your head back laughing when you can’t contain your joy. It could be the way you wink at me from across the room or dance with me to whatever music is playing while making dinner. All I know is it’s most definitely the way you seek God and keep knocking on heaven’s door on my behalf. I know it’s the eagerness you have to come home and see me after a long day’s work, knowing your role now switches to caretaker. I know it’s the way you make me feel safe and protected. I know it’s the way you gently care for each and every detail of me, showing that our relationship can be different than what we’ve seen, in fact, it can be way better.
I know it’s really just the fact that it’s you. And I wouldn’t…I couldn’t…even imagine it otherwise. What a gift God has given me through you. My valentine each and every day for years to come.