Thursday, May 29

A love letter...

My beautiful wonderful bride,

Remember when fall semester started. It was warm. Campus was busy. It was still summer, well, the end of summer. One of those summer nights, I was hanging out with friends in the parking lot of that apartment complex because that was where the party was supposed to be that night. You stepped out of an apartment and stopped to speak to Dan. You remembered my friend's names, but when you pointed at me, you said, "Uh, Steve?" That's right. You called me Steve or was it Richard, maybe John or Tim, but it was not Scott. Lucky I wasn't insecure.

And then there was TKE at the top of that darn hill. We flirted. You stood next to us. I kept bumping into you. Oh, I remember that bright beautiful smile. You remember bug eyes. Lucky I wasn't insecure.

And then I always saw you, if I recall correctly, almost every day at dinner. All semester long the dialogue went more or less like this:

"Hi Scott."
"Hi Ashley."
"What are you doing later?"
"Nothing. Studying."

That was it. The dialogue never went beyond that. At least you learned my name.

And then right before finals, it was a colder night, we saw each other off campus for the first time. Dan said he could get Steve and me in the KA party. It was a lame. We got in the car to go to another party and as we were about to leave, Dan saw you walking, in the dark, on the other side of that two lane road, with your friend Mike. Dan yelled, "Ashley!" You trotted over and exclaimed, yes exclaimed, like he just found your lost puppy, "Dan!" He said something about becoming a brother, and you leaned in the driver's side window, gave him a kiss on his cheek, and said, “Congratulations.” Oh... as for me, when I asked if I could get one too, you dissed me. Lucky I wasn't insecure.

"Ohhhh, gross, she's kissing him!"
"Ashley, Scott is on the phone."
Swissy and her menthols.
2am Frisco burgers.
Life is a Highway.
My 1980 CJ5 jeep.
Melbourne Beach nuptials.
Daughter #1.
Daughter #2
Son #1.
Vending machines.
The summer of the amusement park.

And then June 15, Nov 9, Jan 9, that trial, the fight we are currently fighting, has quite possibly been the best 18 months of my life... ever. I have gotten to hang out with you, watch you grow in faith and strength, and live a better life while God provides?

So, this weekend, your courage to have transparent conversations with my parents and your father forced me to examine my life. Our life. Our family. Marriage. Children. Parents. Sisters. Our decisions and the life we have chosen. After all of that effort, here is what I came up with...

Know, if not for you, I would never have fulfilled my purpose. I would not have been the father our children needed. Remember, "Do you want her to think this is normal?" You are why our children became a priority and I became the father they needed.

Know, if not for you, I would be just like everyone else pursuing the things of this world and valuing the things of this world. I was a cliché, the husband, who thought providing for his family only meant earn money and pursue a career. Family was secondary. Money was trump and it especially trumped the emotional and spiritual needs of our children. You changed that. Not me. You.

Know, if not for you, we would not be able to listen to others boast and brag and gush over our children. So, when you speak about what I have done and how you could not have done what I did, know your contributions as their mom mattered then and matter now. Our family would not be "our family", our children would not be "our children", and our life would not be "our life" without you. You are wonderful and thus our children and life are wonderful too. 

Know, I have always needed you, even before I knew I needed you. I need you as much as you say, “I need you” to me. You have endured my flaws. You saved my life, literally saved my life, more than once. My life does not work without you. Who else would love me anyway? Who else would look at me the way you do when I least deserve it? Who else who whisper the kind words you whisper when I least deserve kindness? No one else smiles at me the way you do and makes me feel the way you do.

Know you are a wonderful. Funny. Smart. Gracious. Faithful. Gentle. Emotional, in a good way. Strong, much stronger than you think. Who knew how much I would like red hair, fair skin, and freckles? Add soft, ample and curvy, a big bright smile and green-blue eyes... who knew you had everything to get my attention? If I could have defined a wife, I would never have been able to describe you. Just as iron sharpens iron, you make my life better, fuller, whole, and contrary to what you like to say, I'm the Lucky One while you are the Unlucky One (get it, the movie, I hope so.) Lucky I'm not insecure. 

Know, just as there is nothing better than falling asleep next to you, feeling you next to me, mushing against each other, with my hand "you know where"; just as there is nothing better than "doing that thing we do" so very well and we do… do that well don't we; it is the waking up next to you, it is being with you in the stillness of early morning, even if it is just for a moment, and knowing you are well that makes me the morning person you, and our children, love to hate.

Know, it is because of you, that God has been so good to me. You, my wife, are my greatest blessing, pressed down, shaken together, that now runs over into my lap. I love you. I hope you feel loved, worthy, beautiful, and special “as you are” because you, “as you are”, deserve, without question, to know what it's like to feel those things.

Know, as much as I love, and as much as I am in love with you, I like you a lot... a whole, whole lot. You make doing nothing something I can't wait to do with you. Before you, I never wanted to be old(er) and now I can't wait to be old(er) with you.

See you later to hopefully do absolutely nothing. 

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