Monday, February 14, 2011

You Really Didn't Have To

Before we were married I made you cancel the layaway on the diamond engagement ring you had so carefully chosen, the one with the pretty leaf pattern in two-tone gold.

It made practical sense, under the circumstances. The non-profit you were working for had gone bankrupt and suddenly closed -- your last paycheck had bounced. After that we were both juggling part time jobs with no health insurance. And then we found out I was pregnant. Surprise!

A diamond ring didn't seem so important to me, under those circumstances.

So we were married in the courthouse, with no pomp, and no rings at all. And we carried on with none until a couple of months later, when I snuck into a store without you and I bought a matched set of plain wedding bands in silver as a surprise.

Through the years of our marriage since then, we haven't found much time to mark our romance with ceremony . The holidays and anniversaries I remember best are the ones we spent turned all upside-down -- the Christmas we spent unpacking boxes in our new house, the Mother's Day we spent repairing a storm-torn gutter. The birthday I spent at your grandmother's memorial service.

A few days ago I asked you what you wanted to do for Valentine's Day and you shrugged and looked guilty and said "I hadn't really thought about it much yet." And I wasn't surprised because -- let's face it -- I know and you know you buy gifts at the last minute, and you couldn't remember to make a restaurant reservation a week in advance if your life depended on it.

But the truth was, I hadn't really thought about what to do on Valentine's Day much yet, either.

There was a time when I would feel a slight pang of jealousy when I watched a bride walk down an aisle full of flowers in a beautiful gown. There was a time when I felt a little envy when some couple we knew told us about their romantic anniversary getaway. There was a time when I cared about flowers and fancy dinners on Valentine's Day. But I don't anymore.

Because Saturday you folded all the laundry while I read email, even though I hadn't asked you to.

Because you fold my clothes more neatly than I do.

Because Sunday when you were at the grocery store without me you bought me marinara sauce with portobello mushrooms and wine even though you don't really like portobellos or wine, either. And then you served it with dinner.

Because you bought me a box of chocolates that had only dark chocolate in it.

Because you gave our son his bath last night and read his story even though he really wanted me to read his story and we both knew he would whine about you doing it instead, so I could lay down on the sofa, because I was tired.

Because even though we said in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live, and believed it, by all stereotypes and cold hard statistics, this crazy, met-too-young, married-too-soon, stressed-too-often relationship of ours should never have lasted this long. Not through three homes and two cars and seven job changes and six birthdays of a decidedly not-neurotypical child.

And yet, here you are, still, remembering that I don't like milk chocolate. Folding my jeans.

Dinner out and roses would be a nice gift, one of these February 14ths. But a present like that would be a very little thing compared to the thousands of simpler, mundane, yet much more important everyday gifts you have given me over the years.

That diamond ring we wanted once might be nice to have, someday, too. But if you ever get around to getting me one, it had better look nice next to my old scratched and dented silver wedding band. Because I'm not taking that off.


Farrell said...

that was beautiful!

a.eye said...

That was very touching!

Lisa said...

Awwwww. I feel more of a pang of jealousy when I read stuff like this than when someone tells me about their romantic getaway.

And for us, nothing says "I love you" like a surprise QT fountain soda.

It IS the little things. Definitely.

Korinthia Klein said...

This is very close to my own life (except for the dislike of milk chocolate--please send me any you don't want) so I could relate. I'll take the nicely folded laundry over jewelry any day.

Beautifully written as always.

Just Believe said...

This is really beautiful, and truly inspirational. Sometimes it really is about the little things. I've started following your blog (you're welcome to check mine out and follow if you'd like).

Blogger said...

i have tears running down my cheeks from reading this. you are so lucky to know what love is