Sunday, February 14, 2016

To Jim on Valentine's Day

Dear Jim,

I'm thinking of February seven years ago. Remember how that guy Tony told you he no longer wanted to be intimate with his wife after watching her give birth? I still have no idea why he told you that, or why you shared the conversation with me. But I was so insecure after Clementine was born--remember?--that I squeezed into your single bed right there in the hospital room. Hold me: tell me you still want me after witnessing that.

I'm so glad to say I know you better, now. I know you, now, as the man who crossed to the nether side of the drape while Dr. Reutinger was performing my c-section to deliver Chip. "Well," you said, watching every bit of the action (and barely raising an eyebrow), "now I can say I've seen parts of you that no one else ever has."

There's been so much blood. No one much talks about the blood inside of a marriage, inside of a family. No one much talks about the snot, the shit...and I'm being literal, here: not figurative in the least (although there's been plenty of figurative shit, too, and someone is even now shaking his or her head over my word choice, but poo doesn't quite cover it).

The puke. Remember the time Cade threw up in his loft bed? Then I--having climbed up to clean up--vomited on top of Cade's vomit. You pulled down the mattress, knelt on the bedroom floor and cleaned it all up.

Something has shifted since Valentine's Day, last. I've shed some paranoia. Just the other day I said of you: "I guess if he were going to leave me, he would've done it, by now." Lesser men are leaving all the time: in search of love, I guess, but love isn't something found; it's something made...and not always (or even often) between the sheets.

What I want to say to you, My Valentine, is thank you. Thank you for staying with me. We've survived so much, including one another, and

I love you.