Your head tilts back as you laugh that belly deep laugh at something ridiculous I said. I’m certain no one else would have found it as entertaining as you just did, but that’s what makes it sweet. We’ll banter back and forth about your fruity beverage and the bitterness of my choice. By the time the waiter brings our drinks out, he’ll go with his instincts and hand me yours. I have learned to love the differences that we undoubtedly find, on an array of subjects, including what food we order.
The gray hair that has crept its way into your beard reminds me of the time that has passed. I sit across from you in this chaotic restaurant and reminisce of moments that bring happiness and moments that bring heartache. Each one has played an important role in who we are today.
When the conversation slows, I lean over and say, “I love that this is our life.”
You laugh and say, “you say that every time we go out.” and I smile.
You scoot our drinks aside and reach across the table to hold my hands. The tenderness in your eyes, while you talk to me, takes me back sixteen years. It is rare for us to ever have a pause in the conversation, and I smile thinking about the first time we talked on the phone, for four hours. I ask you your greatest fear, your goals, and you entertain me with your answers. I remind you of your unlimited potential and strength. Sitting across from you I see years of unconditional love.
Your loving arms wrapped around me as I grieved placing my first baby for adoption. Your constant support as I ran my own nonprofit, for fourteen years. The hellish night of thinking we had lost our baby girl. Watching our oldest sing like a pirate in his first preschool performance. Starting over with our youngest. The three miscarriages in between. Buying our first home, second home, and third home. Choosing to leave our faith. Dragging you up the mountain. Dragging you to Bikram Yoga. And last but not least my concussion.
“Those first four days I’d wake up every morning hoping you were still alive,” you say in between raw emotion. Your gaze leaves mine and I can tell you’re holding back. All I can think to say is, “I’m sorry.”
I ponder the most important lesson I have learned during our marriage, before I speak, I ask you what you think yours has been.
"Forgiveness," you say.
It’s easy for us to point out the very clear opposites that we are, but at the core, we have always been connected. To be quick to forgive has not only been the hardest lesson, the most important lesson, but also the most valuable lesson that ironically we both agreed on tonight.
“We both have had times where we could have ran,” you say to me.
I agree and think about how grateful I am that we are both still sitting here across from each other. I tilt my head back and laugh that belly deep laugh at something ridiculous you said. No one else would have found it as entertaining as I just did, but that’s what makes it sweet.