There are days where you have to get up early to work a ten hour shift at one hospital, and then get off and go work an eight hour shift at another hospital, and then the ER gets crazy and you don’t even know if you will get off at 2am, even though you have an eight hour class the next day, and you wonder how you will make it, not counting ever getting to see your family again.
The only thing that’s harder than that kind of work intensity is doing it on Valentine’s Day.
But you do it, because it’s the best gift you can give your family, paying for that expensive tube feeding food and extra oxygen supplies for preschool and all the stickers medicaid doesn’t realize you use trying to keep feeding tubes in your baby.
Or maybe you do it because your husband is a writer, a real kind, not pretend like you are, but a real writer, and it’s pretty much true what they say about starving artists. And maybe he could get some 8-5 desk job, but he would cease to be him, and you don’t want that. You married a writer, and you knew it when you married him, and so royalty checks at the end of the year and random production bonuses when you don’t expect them are the way he contributes, and that is all sufficient for your needs.
Because maybe he contributes more than that.
Maybe it isn’t just about money.
Maybe it’s how the laundry is clean when you get home, so all you have to do is put yours away.
Maybe it’s how the dishes get done, and the children are fed, and gas is always in your car.
Maybe it’s how he doesn’t complain when you wake him crawling into bed in the middle of the night, or how delighted he is to sit on the floor of the bathroom with a toddler who thinks potty time is singing time (just like her daddy).
Maybe it’s how, regardless of any other audience he has, he always makes time to write lyrics for the family, to sing poems to you, and to leave sweet messages between your glasses and cochlear implants as a surprise early in the morning.
Maybe it’s how he runs the children to school, and to doctor appointments, and even delivers caramel corn to your office when there is an emergency.
Maybe it’s the weight of his hands on your head in blessings, or the twinkle in his eye when he thinks he’s extra funny, or the geniusly creative ideas he comes up with that help you see the world in a way you never noticed before.
Maybe it’s how he held you when your mother died, when your babies died, and when you had cancer. Maybe it’s how he held babies in the night when you never heard them cry because he wanted you to sleep, or how he welcomed children that were not ours just so they would be safe for a time, or how his heart softened toward the children who stayed. Maybe it’s how he held you when you came home from being life flighted away with the last baby, or how he stroked your hair when you were told she wouldn’t live, or how he held tightly to your hand through bizarre moves that were blind acts of faith and made no sense otherwise.
Maybe it’s how he rolls out of the bed directly onto his knees each morning, or how he holds your hand as he prays each night. Maybe it’s watching him read scriptures to the children at breakfast every day, or maybe it’s the sight of him cooking dinner in that ridiculous yellow apron I made him when we were newlyweds. Maybe it’s the way he challenges people to discuss, or the way he facilitates kindness even in difficult circumstances.
Maybe you do whatever you can, because you know you lucked out in getting him for a husband.
Maybe you know he’s something special, and that the miracle isn’t that you finally got married, but that you married him.
Maybe you know he’s worth it.
Maybe he makes you feel like you’re worth it, too.
Here’s the funny thing about our Valentine’s Day that played out so differently than either of us expected or hoped… it’s so…. us. Even though we were apart, and even though we kept trying to catch each other on the phone or FaceTime, we were separated and prevented from connecting in those ways. But rather than ruining our day, it was tender because it reminded us of when we first met and dated from a thousand miles away.
That was pretty special.
And that was worth it, for sure.
So what did I do for Valentine’s Day? It’s not that I had work 18 hours. Or more.
It’s that I woke to a hand painted rose before my eyes were even awake, and I get to (eventually) slip back into bed and curl up with the man who painted it.
Those moments make the 18 hours in between seem like nothing, mostly because we are made of eternal stuff – and he is my forever.