I’m awakened by the familiar creak of the floorboard outside our bedroom door as Mike brings a steaming cup of coffee in to the room for me. He opens the blind to the morning light, kisses me lightly and leaves me to sip, awaken and stretch in the quiet. It’s one of our most beloved routines, and on the rare mornings that we aren’t in the same home, I miss the gentle easing out of sleep, the scent of the cup at my bedside, his tender kiss.
This year, we’ll celebrate 12 years of marriage, and rarely have we given Valentine’s Day much thought at all during that time. There have been flower bouquets on occasion, and a kiss each February 14th that says ‘You’ll always be my Valentine.’, but the truth is much sweeter than an entire box of chocolates; each day has elements of simple romance in them, and every day should be a reminder of why you fell in love.
Twelve years with a ring on my finger, and I’m still finding aspects of this man to fall in love with, especially the way he still can make me bust out laughing over the dumbest things. We’ve weathered tough years that wore us thin on one another and still, at night when we lay to sleep, we clasp hands and let the cares of the day slip away in moments for just us two. I joke about his wild eyebrow hairs, and he reaches behind me to scratch that one spot I can never reach. I press my toes to his. The day ends in drowsy eyes, murmurs of ‘I love you’ and then, sleep. The next day, there’s a cup of coffee, abundant grace, and still, a wedding ring.
I cook the foods I know he will love. He changes the oil in my car, and willingly drove it on the coldest days of this frigid Winter when we knew the battery was failing. I gladly do the laundry. He does the dishes. If there’s ice cream at the end of our day, he places my favorite spoon in my bowl, and knows exactly how much I want. He hides chocolate for me. I make sure there’s plenty of peanut butter for him. We know, with a simple glance at the end of our workday, how it panned out for the other- the tension around his eyes, the downturn of my mouth. He can see with the sunrise if I’ve slept well the night before. He leaps from bed in the middle of the night to run downstairs and see why our most vocal cat is howling at 2AM. I send him love texts from work. For each hour that passes, of every day, through a parade of seasons both outside our doors and inside our souls, we watch over each other carefully, protecting each other, loving each other, caring and soothing the barbs of living, holding hands while we walk at sundown, falling asleep after a kiss each night.
It’s Friday, and our routine won’t change much today, over any other day; before I leave for work, I’ll draw him in to a close embrace and kiss him deeply before donning my coat and shoes, picking up my work bag and heading out the door. It’ll be dark when I return, a long day apart, and the moment we lay eyes on one another, there forms a softness around our eyes, a shot of warmth through us of how glad we are to see one another. Again, we embrace and share a kiss. “How was your day?” Dinner might be waiting, or we’ll warm up something in the fridge.
There might be flowers. And there’s always chocolate, hidden somewhere in the house for those moments when nothing else tastes right. But the days pass similar to this, always starting with that gentle kiss in the morning, a warm embrace and greeting when we part, and when we return. The little things, the daily gestures, the give and take, a back scratch or massaging a sore spot, a favorite spoon, a treasured meal. Ice cream in the freezer, peanut butter in the cupboard. A kiss, and proclamations of love before sleep on a cold February night, the first sweet Spring night when the windows are open, or the hottest of days in July.
No Valentine card can ever convey the importance and the grace behind the daily shuffle, hand in hand with this other soul.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet love!