I actually didn't expect hearts and candy to define my marriage.
I am a realist.
At least, that's what I think of myself as.
(You sunshine and unicorns people would call me a pessimist.)
Best case scenarios don't often occur to me.
Anyway -- it's Valentines Day.
I see all the posts from friends celebrating a renewal of their love,
a remembrance of the beginning of their romance.
I love that.
One friend mentioned in her love story
that they have lost as many babies as they have living children.
I love these people dearly.
She said something about not having chosen the things they've walked through.
And it rings so true.
I found myself thinking through the unlovely valentines.
The markers of love that you've walked through together.
Each one another bond, a shared grief.
The lost jobs, lost relationships, lost children.
The death of parents, of friends, of dreams.
The months without income.
The sleepless nights with sick children.
The frozen pipes.
The wound packing.
The wheelchair pushing.
The broken down cars.
The financial hardships.
The baffling parenting dilemmas.
The hormonal swings of pregnancy.
The things you don't take pictures of to share on Instagram.
The choking on tears together.
The desperate prayers.
Those parts of the vows we made --
the for poorer, for worse, and in sickness parts --
they have value.
The forgivenesses, and bandaging,
and helping each other dress because we are too injured to dress ourselves.
I would not trade them for other people's cruises.
Flowers are romantic,
but this morning my husband said that of course he had time
to rub juniper oil into my stiff neck and shoulder before he left:
a smelly, messy valentine.