Today is Nick’s fortieth birthday. I have been ruminating on how I might describe all that this man means to me.
Words usually come easily when I call, but the running commentary of my memory has been replaced by images that move me to silence. There are no words to adequately describe the warmth Nick rubbed back into my life during a time when I, I’m sorry to say, wasn’t too keen to have been left behind.
I joke with friends that I tried to break up with Nick there in the beginning, but that he wouldn’t take the hint…of course, there is some truth to every joke. More than six years ago, I tried to push him away because it just hurt too much to use my heart for anything. I had just come off from one of the hardest years of my life…a year filled with a series of miscarriages, upheaval, and false hope that culminated in the death of the person closest to me in this world.
I felt the gaping wound in my heart as though it was a physical injury. Have you ever experienced that level of pain? If you have, you might know the deep-seated desire to be numb, to close yourself off from everyone and everything so that you won’t have to think anymore. You won’t have to feel. I know this is cowardly, but sometimes you’re just too tired to keep your head.
And there stood this man who was so emotionally strong that I felt almost smothered by him. He wouldn’t let me be! He wouldn’t let me sulk away to lick my wounds. So, during the long hours of an insomniac’s night, I thought about closing him out of my life…self-preservation, if you will.
But the thing is, I just couldn’t do it. We were too connected, too…right. When some of the weight of grieving lifted, I was grateful that I had not acted on some of the stupidest thoughts that had ever entered my mind. He did more for my self-preservation than my misguided plan: amazingly, I did not lose myself in all that I lost.
I could have become cold, aloof, even acrimonious. I became none of those things. Grief is ugly, and it can consume you so easily—if you lock yourself away with only grief for company. I wasn’t allowed to do that because I had this brilliant, loyal, and overwhelmingly kind person in my life who cared enough to keep a tight hold on my hand.
I do not know the bigger plan, and I stopped trying to figure it out a long time ago. Somehow, some way, I managed to find my other half at a time when I desperately needed to be whole. Love doesn’t seem like a grand enough word for what I feel for him. He is the air that I breathe.
Oh, Nick…happy birthday. I look forward to the memories we will make together over the next forty years.