It started with beef tenderloin and a fork dropped on the floor that led him to his knee and finally to the question...will you marry me?
One year later it was his idea to make it an annual tradition.
And so every 14th of February for the past 10 years he has played chef and meticulously executed a gourmet meal for me.
The silly cards we create for each other are exchanged.
The totally cliche chocolates and candles and flowers are set on the table.
And we keep it all to ourselves...at home...away from the crowds.
In the beginning I just kicked my feet up and relaxed throughout the preparations. Nothing makes a girl's heart flutter like watching her guy serve her in such an intentional way.
For the past five years, however, there has been a bit of work to be done before the 'all to ourselves' part begins. Two little people have needed tucking in and away from the evening reserved for two.
It's always been important to us that the relationship this family was built upon be nurtured and remembered.
'Husband' and 'Wife' first.
'Mama' and 'Daddy' second.
February 14th is just one of the ways we do that.
One of the ways we hold onto what has been and dream about what will be.
One of the ways we keep children from wedging in between us.
One of the ways we say - you're my number one.
One of the ways we remain best friends.
One of the ways we love...as a verb.
This year...love looked different.
Lucy had woken early that morning crying with a fever and stiff joints.
Enter our first experience of sickness + Type 1 Diabetes.
If having a feverish kid is hard...and having a kid with Type 1 Diabetes is hard...having a feverish kid with Type 1 Diabetes is all kinds of hard. It is totally unpredictable and a little bit scary.
Blood sugars go whack.
Ketones suddenly show up for the first time since the initial hospitalization.
And so we shifted into a vigilant mode of finger pricking every 2 hours, holding a tiny cup in the potty to collect samples every time she had to 'go', getting water in her mouth round the clock, giving twice as many insulin shots as usual, and praying we could get this thing under control without a trip to the emergency room.
When Valentines Dinner rolled around
I was tired.
I was worried.
I was distracted.
I couldn't take my 'mama' hat off like I wanted to because keeping tabs on her was more important in that moment.
But then the most beautiful thing happened...
when my weary eyes looked across the table at him, his reflected the same.
He was worried.
He was distracted.
He couldn't take his 'daddy' hat off.
And he was the first one to admit it...I can't stop thinking about Lucy.
But instead of a child wedging her way in between us that Valentine's night we were drawn closer together. I guess that's what happens when you share it all together...
you share it ALL together.
Joey and I have definitely gotten things wrong in our marriage but one thing we've gotten right is that we stand face-to-face and lace our fingers together and hoist up the weights of our life in unison.
We don't expect each other to carry anything alone.
And so we didn't linger as long in dinner conversation
and we didn't have the energy for much of...well...anything.
But we did wrap our arms around each other and move forward together through another difficult night. We held each other with our hands, our words, our prayers, and our love.
That love looked different this year...
...but come to think of it...our love looks different every year.
It sinks deeper
and spreads wider
and holds stronger.
What's your true love story?