Today it is 11 years since we were married. Sometimes it seems like that is far too long for how quickly the time has passed. Other times it can feel like I have never know myself, my life, without you in it.
25 (would you believe I almost wrote 15?) years ago you sat behind me in Mr. Martini's 7th grade Social Studies. We were decidedly not social. You were the shy boy with a man's worth of problems. I was the girl trying to get a grip on yet another move. This time into a very strange world where girls wore makeup at 12 and dressed in Jordache. Something this backwoods girl could never compete with. My "Jordache" was the mint green corduroy pants that you thought, even on that first day, made my "butt look big". Ahhhh 12...
19 years ago... CJ Barrymore's... me at the height of fashion (if being bitchy equals being fashionable) a nightly fixture. I remember walking around the corner and seeing you on a bar stool, watching your friends play pool (funny how a pool room was the "thing" for teenagers to do on Saturday night). You had never looked better. I still miss you wearing that black motorcycle jacket which has since been recycled into a main piece of our daughters' wardrobe. A dinner (more like breakfast) at Ram's Horn later and we gave romance a try. Only you were too nice (in this twisted girl's opinion)... escorting me to restrooms, calling me "love" and *gasp* even being audacious enough to open doors for me and want to visit with my parents. Romance failed and we went back to our lives... but I never stopped thinking of you.
Let's move forward, about 3 years. Running into you at Lisa's party wasn't what I expected to happen, but I would never mistake the sound of those boots as I waited at her front door. I will never lose the memory of you sitting next to me that whole night, and all the nights after. I will always hold close the image of you- handsome, straight and oh so very much a man you, holding my (who would become ours) daughter in your arms and crooning Elvis Presley to her...until she fell asleep... fuzzy pink sleeper up against the black of your jacket. You were her first babysitter. You are her only father.
The four years of us together, before marriage, hold some of the sweetest memories for me. You gave me an opportunity to make up for all that I had done in the past that was cruel to you. I made you the promise to never hurt you on purpose again. I hope I have kept it.
It is funny, in writing this, that every one of those memories could have happened yesterday...they are that fresh to me.
I owe you so much...would love to thank you for so much that has happened in our married life:
For loving not just me, but Nicole as well. I still cannot believe how easily-naturally-you fit into her life...how easily you came to care for her as your own. And she is your own.
For holding onto me those nights that I lost babies-and dreams- for being strong, and even for saying the things I didn't want to hear.
For giving me the memory of you combing James' hair when he was just minutes old... for being the best labor coach ever when I thought (given your track history of walking out of birth classes at break time) you wouldn't have it in you.
For staying with me through the horrid times after we lost the last baby, and I lost myself for a while. How strong you are.
When they said "In sickness and in health" you HONORED that, Leonard... you saved my life. You didn't leave the hospital the night after that operation, when they told you to...
...when I felt like my lungs were balloons that had lost their air, stuck together and were useless..you called for the doctors who before had said I was fine. In my hazy recollection of that day/night, you were the only one who "had it together". You always have it together. You have us together. I never really think of how burdensome that can be for you... for you have had more than your share of pain. And I hope in some small way, through the years, I have made it less.
You have been, are and always will be my everything. You will be the person who bugs me, plays with me, yells with me, lazes with me and laughs with me. You keep me on point. I appreciate all you have done...all you ARE...for our little family.
... I can't believe I forgot what day it was when I sent you out the door this morning.
I Love You