It took forever for him to say those words, really. I mean, he had a few slips at the beginning…like the time we were leaving Carmella’s restaurant/bar. I was singing, one of my happiness indicators, and he was watching me with this awed look, this admiring look.
And he just sort of blurted it out.
HIM: I love you, Nicki.
I’ll never forget the song that was playing on the radio then. It was Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink.” So, yeah, ask me about a moment, and I’ll probably tell you we have a song for that. Music ranks pretty high in our life. We have a song for watching the sunrise, the sunset, various intimate moments…all good stuff.
I was shocked, but managed to respond.
me: I love you, too, Sam.
And I didn’t hear it again for about a month. I was away at the time. My last family trip for Rachel’s birthday. He was lost and lonely without me, even though Jay and Spring were around.
HIM: Nothing is the same without you. I wish you were here.
me: I know, baby. Tomorrow. And I’ll be all yours.
HIM: Say it, please. Say it to me.
And I knew what he wanted and needed to hear. And though I felt it to my core, sometimes I felt a little exposed admitting it.
me: Say what? How come I always have to say it and you never do?
HIM: Just SAY it.
me:*sigh* Fine. (And I took a deeeeep breath.) I love you, Sam.
He surprised me.
HIM: I love you, too, Nicki.
Then we didn’t say it for a long time. He was afraid. Life had taught him that loving someone led to losing them. And he was afraid I’d be like everyone else who had hurt him, disappointed him, mistreated him. Only I wasn’t. And even though he trusted me…fear is a powerful thing.
He went through the “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you phase.” We discussed that ad nauseum.
me: Yes, you are.
HIM: No, I’m not.
me: Yes, you are. It’s just different from every other time you’ve been in love and you don’t recognize it. My love is like a warm blanket wrapped around you, not a rug to be ripped out from under your feet. My love gives you roots and wings, not stomach aches and heart ache. Look at us. Look at all we have. Look at how we are together. Tell me you’re not in love with me.
He wouldn’t admit it. Until Christmas time, the time when everything I had ever told him came true. The time when being without me for so long meant that he saw things more clearly.
HIM: I love you, Nicki. I’m in love with you. My head says we don’t entirely make sense, but my emotions…they tell me I should marry you.
Still, he needed time and space. I had spent our entire relationship giving him time and space. Time and space. Space and time. Over and over again. I was tired. I was worn the hell out. I was drained. I needed things to change. I told him what I needed. You can’t get mad at someone for not giving you what you want if you never ask. And the answer I received was silence.
So, I tried to move on. There was the new guy. There was quality time with the kids. There was bonding with my girls. (I love you, Kimberly, and Jennie, and Laura, and Spring!) I was happy. Please note: happy is not the same as complete. I had my routines. I wasn’t bothered by my alone time, but instead grew to relish it. I was comfortable in my skin. All good things.
But love lingers. And love lies dormant, waiting for the kiss of the sun to awaken. And love, true love, real love, never ends.
So, Valentine’s was upon us. And I had agreed to a date with Sam. The new guy and I had never said we were exclusive. (That’s what I’m going with.) And I wanted to see Sam. I wanted to hear what he had to say. I wanted to know what realizations he had come to. I wanted to know if…what if…
Our plans have a way of changing, so it didn’t surprise me that he asked if we could order in rather than go out. And since I didn’t want to be rushed through dinner in a crowded restaurant when we clearly had issues to discuss, I readily agreed. And he was supposed to pick me up, but when he ended up getting caught up in some mystery project and asked me to meet him at the house, I agreed.
So, I kissed the kids goodbye, knowing that somehow, this night would change my life, but uncertain in what capacity. And I had arranged with their father to come stay with them so I wouldn’t necessarily have to come home. (Ex-husbands can come in very handy sometimes.) And when I arrived, I found the house in chaos. He was laying carpet with Ed and Tony.
me: Hey? What’s up?
He came over and kissed me.
HIM: Happy Valentine’s Day, babe. The kids need carpet.
Yeah. He was re-carpeting their rooms. Wow. Only…we don’t live there, right?
For the next hour, I busied myself on the computer. I wrote my post for Monday. And I responded to emails. And I looked around and marveled at the changes I saw.
My present was on the table. There was a plush devil and a card. A card! He never did cards. The fact that he had taken the time to do so…wow.
We cleaned up from the mess. We ordered food. And then, with the house in order and us finally alone, we sat on the couch and relaxed and talked. It was a good talk. He kept stopping himself though, claiming he was saying too much. So, I tried to change the subject, lighten the mood. We hadn’t even had dinner yet.
me: So, want your present?
HIM: Now? We haven’t even had dinner yet. Does this mean you want yours, too?
me: Whenever you’re ready.
At Christmas time, we watched The Hangover together. It made us laugh. And we snuggled…and stuff. I wanted him to remember that, remember the good between us. He opened the movie and smiled.
HIM: Okay. Here’s yours.
He passed me the devil first, but I really was dying to read the card. You know how much words mean to me.
HIM: Be careful with it.
And I’m thinking, it’s a stuffed devil. How am I going to break it?
HIM: I think there’s something under the cape.
I moved the cape to the side, slowly, gently…and stopped.
HIM: What’s this?
And he pulled out a ring.
me: So, does this ring come with a question?
Come back tomorrow for the perfect proposal…
And while you wait…remember not to wait too long.
- decide you want a happy ending, and try to make your dream a reality