It’s almost one in the morning on a Monday night, and my husband is working on a brief at the kitchen table. I’m trying to stay up to keep him company. Even though we’re not talking, I know he appreciates my presence, my show of solidarity. Plus, my overly nostalgic heart is swelling as I reminisce about the many all-nighters we spent studying or writing papers in the common space of his dorm during college (we were both admittedly top-notch, expert procrastinators.)
Mike knew he was going to have to work tonight, despite his long day in the office. Yet, he went out to dinner with my parents who are visiting, put John Paul to bed (no easy feat as teething has once again reared its ugly head), and spent forty-five minutes trying to figure out why the water pressure in our kitchen sink decreased just as black specks began to appear in our toilet water (eww). And tomorrow morning, whether at six-thirty or seven when John Paul cries out in hunger, Mike will stumble out of bed to soothe him and make him laugh, because he so dearly treasures that his special morning time with his son-no matter how early it is or how tired he is.
Look, I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve got to say it: this guy is incredible. And though I try to keep this knowledge in the forefront of my mind at all times, there are many times when I let exhaustion, frustration, or selfishness get the best of me, and I treat him like he is less than incredible. I’m working on this-on being a better wife and a better friend. Everyday, I ask God to help me grow in patience, humility, and kindness.
And everyday, I thank God for blessing me with this man who loves me and supports me through everything and anything. For, this is a man who walked me home from class the first day of school at Notre Dame, who spent hours on the phone when I finally had time to talk while living at L’Arche (even though it was late and he had law school class early the next day), who wiped away my tears as I stumbled over our vows on our wedding day, who made me laugh and cleaned up after me as I brushed the hair out of my head following my first cycle of chemotherapy (and after some grosser episodes as well-again, eek!), who always tells me I am beautiful (even with my short hair, extra weight, and multitude of scars), and who looks into my eyes and tells me he will always love me, no matter what and no matter if we are here on Earth or resting with God.
Happy 28th Birthday, Mike. I am so grateful for the nine and a half years we’ve known each other, the four and a half years we’ve been married, and the past year in which we’ve fought cancer and become parents, in which we’ve felt our deepest sorrow and experienced our greatest joy. I am so lucky to have you by my side through all things and all seasons of this life, and I hope you know how much I love you.
Do you know how I’m at rest
when my head’s laid upon your chest?
Do you know you bring me peace?
Do you know, when I am old,
when days are short and the wind is cold,
I’ll think of you and feel warm?
Stay by my side forever.
You’re my warmth in any weather,
even in the winter snow.
In this year’s storm, without a trace
of grudge or anger, you showed me grace,
loving me so patiently.
In this year’s storm you held my hand,
even though nothing went as planned.
You gave me faith when mine was gone.
Someday soon we’ll be in Spring-
we’ll be so happy we’ll have to sing
about the love we’ve come to know
that lives even in winter snow.
Even in the winter snow, oh my love,
you warm me so.