(A letter to my love, on Valentine’s Day, but this could be any day.”
To my love,
When I stood up in front of the ones who love us, just shy of fourteen years and a whole lot of memories ago, and said “I choose you,” – well, I meant it.
But what I didn’t know, all fresh faced and idealistic, is just how many more times we would both need to say it.
I choose you.
I choose you when you put your soda cans next to the trash instead of in it. I choose you when you leave your suitcase opened and unpacked on the floor for weeks. When you don’t take your shoes off at the door after I mopped.
I choose you when you can’t tell me what’s on your mind because you don’t know how to say it, when you can’t articulate the effect of what you’ve seen. I choose you when the distance between us isn’t words but actual miles, thousands of them, in fact.
I chose you when I was laying in bed awake, not wondering when you’d come home, but if it would be in a box.
And you, oh how you choose me.
You choose me even though I never make the coffee. You choose me when I ignore the housework for days on end to paint furniture. You choose me when I’m undone by the day, and bolt out the door as soon as you walk in it, and you choose me when I push the garbage so far down in the can, it breaks the bag. You choose me when I bring home all the baby animals and you are just over here cleaning up poop for days.
You choose me when you call me in the car to tell me “I got you.”
You chose me when you came striding down my parents driveway with that silly mustache on your face, when you swept me into your arms and held me while I sobbed. You chose me when we cried together over our babies who didn’t live. You chose me in my grief, in my fear, bearing the weight of my anxiety on your broad back. You chose me in the thick of raising babies who did, when we hadn’t had a real conversation for days, my personal hygiene was questionable at best and you looked over at me on a Wednesday and told me how happy you were.
You chose me when deployments changed us both.
Now, in the softness of middle age, our bodies a little shopworn and souls a little beat down, I’ll keep on choosing you, in this moment and the next, and all the ones after that. See, that’s what this marriage business is all about. We wake up and we choose each other.
I love you, more than I did yesterday, and not quite as much as I will tomorrow.
I choose you.