|Heartwarming and heart-healthy blueberry cutout cookies|
Shauna, over at Gluten Free Girl put out a call for love stories.
Obviously, Valentine’s Day is on Monday, so this is a topic that a lot of people are thinking and talking about.
For a long time, I didn’t really know what love was. I mean, I thought I did – I thought when I found love, it would be exciting and romantic and bold. It would be sweep-me-off-my-feet love. I would see fireworks.
What I didn’t expect was that love would be quiet and unassuming.
When I met my husband, I was living in northern Virginia. I had moved there with my fiance. Yes, I was engaged at the time. Engaged to a man, let’s call him M, that I had jumped into a relationship with immediately after ending another four-year relationship with someone else.
Stable is what I was. And using good judgement.
But, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Had I not gotten engaged, quit graduate school and moved to Virginia when I did, I would never have met the love of my life.
I had been engaged for about a year. We moved because M got accepted to Law School in DC. We rented an apartment that was about an hour outside the city, and I took a position as an Assistant Manager at a chain bookstore. He spent most of his time in the city, since the commute was so long. We rarely saw each other, and spoke even less.
I was depressed, and I knew in my heart that the relationship was over long before I ended it. If you’ve ever been engaged and known it was the wrong decision, you know how embarrassing that can be. You hate to admit to yourself and your friends and family that you were mistaken. That you might have rushed into things. That you might have been slightly desperate to feel wanted again. That you were weak.
So, there I was – working long retail hours and spending most of my time hanging out with other retail rats. We would go out after work to a local bar and drink and listen to music and then I’d go home, get a few hours of sleep and wake up to do it all over again. D (my now husband) started working as the receiving manager at the same store, and we struck up a friendship. We mostly hung out in groups after work, and would often find ourselves talking about anything and everything. He was a good listener, and I could talk to him about my relationship with M without feeling judged. I could tell him how sad I was, how lonely, and he had an uncanny ability to make me feel better about myself and my situation. He gave me courage.
I finally got up the nerve to end my relationship with M on New Year’s Eve, 2000. We hadn’t even planned to spend the evening together – he was going to a party with his law school friends, and I was going to hang out with some of my friends from the store. It was the right thing to do. He acted surprised, but I don’t think he really was. He went on to his party, and my New Year’s kiss was a peck on the cheek from my friend Sharron.
The very next day, I had my first date with D. We went after work to a restaurant where he knew the bartender, and we sat and talked until they closed. Afterward, we stood in the parking lot and talked for another hour or so.
And then we kissed for the first time.
I had never felt anything like it. There were no fireworks. Just a sense of calm and comfort. From the top of my head to the tip of my toes, I was completely at peace. I knew in that moment that this was the man I would spend the rest of my life with. Nothing had ever felt so right.
From that moment on, we were inseparable. We lived together for three years before we officially got married, but I think we were married in our hearts long before we made it legal.
Ours is not a perfect marriage, but whose is? Even though we have our struggles, I love him more today than I did yesterday, and I know I will love him even more tomorrow. To use an old cliche, he is my rock.
When I’m sad, he lifts me up. When I’m happy, he’s happy with me. We complement each other perfectly.
When our first child was born, he jumped in with both feet. He was a complete partner in the parenting process. He was up with me in the middle of the night for feedings, and changed as many diapers as I did. Watching our sweet firstborn sleep on his chest was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I loved him then.
The day we found out that our sweet baby had a congenital defect that required open-heart surgery, he held me and we cried together. His arms gave me comfort and strength. We supported each other through the shock and fear, and we came out on the other side resolved to meet this challenge head on. I loved him then.
When they wheeled our oldest into surgery, he cried harder than I did, and I loved him for that vulnerability. I held him as his shoulders shook and his tears soaked the shoulder of my shirt. And when the surgeon emerged nearly five hours later with news that everything had gone well, we both held hands and smiled with relief. Those five days in the hospital were some of the most exhausting we’ve had, but we supported each other through the late-night ICU visits, through the early morning X-rays (which I couldn’t be a part of, since I was 5 months pregnant with our second child), and through the chest-tube removal (which he chose to miss because he’s slightly squeamish, but that’s okay). I loved him then.
When our second child was born, and I went through a bout of baby blues, he was there. He held me while I cried, and he told me it was going to get better. He spent extra time with our oldest because I was so fully immersed in caring for the baby. When I felt like a failure because I couldn’t nurse, he held me while I cried (again) and told me it didn’t make me any less of a mother or a woman. I loved him then.
When I say things like, “I think I want to roast a whole pig this weekend“, he doesn’t bat an eyelash. When I came home last weekend from a bread baking class with Troye and said, “I think we need to start grinding our own wheat”, he said “OK”. When I told him I wanted to quit my job because I feel compelled to do something else, something more fulfilling (even though I may not yet know what that something is), he agreed. He loves me.
When I watch him caring for our children in his gentle and loving way, I love him. When he reads with our oldest and patiently waits as he sounds out the words on his own, I love him. When he notices our youngest has a dirty diaper and picks him up without a second thought to change it, I love him.
When he looks at me and smiles, I love him.
I can’t imagine my life without him. Ours is not an exciting love story, but it is a true love story. I know with every fiber of my being that we are meant to be together.
I love him. And he loves me. And that’s all that matters in the end.
So how about you? Is your love story full of fireworks? Were you completely swept off your feet? Did you know from the moment you met? Or was your love more of the quiet, unassuming variety? Let’s celebrate true love this Valentine’s Day.
For a printable version of the blueberry heart cut-out cookies, click here.
For a printable version of the Valentine marshmallows, click here.