A love letter to my husband

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dear Bob,

You know me so well. Like the other day. You heard in my voice the stress of falling behind at work, dealing with a screaming baby for hours on end and trying to pay the bills all crushing down on me at once.

So you stopped by the store on your way home for a "care" package. A strawberry-kiwi candle. Lotion. And a Field&Stream magazine with a feature on deer hunting. You know me so well.

Because of that, I know you're aware this isn't my thing. This public expressing of emotion. I wasn't raised that way; it's not ingrained and can rarely be engineered. But here I am, doing it anyway because you are so deserving. Thus far, 2008 has not been overly kind to our families. Losing my grandmother a mere two weeks after my grandfather passed took a toll unlike any other on me. Your Aunt Barbara followed close behind, succumbing to a long-fought battle with breast cancer. Then my Aunt Esther, then my Uncle Jack. Deep inside, I am still mourning and the occasional tears shining in my eyes are from that as much as anything.

You know me so well. You know that I am always trying to find the logic in others' behavior. There often is no obvious logic in God's behavior, and my struggle to understand leaves me frustrated. As always, you have shifted over the mountain on your shoulders for this increased load, and I am grateful.

This year brought us the ice storm -- three days with no electricity and a wife who was seven months' pregnant and shivering in a 40-degree house. Then a month of bed rest. Four weeks of worrying about the baby, about my own health and about taking on all the household burdens singly. But you did it -- while scrambling into the early morning hours to finish the nursery. And if I added to those burdens by complaining that the laundry wasn't put away properly or that the dishes in the cabinet still had food encrusted on them, I am sorry.

You were the first person I ever met at the Southeast Missourian. I looked at your face, at your caring brown eyes, and knew this was what home felt like. Meanwhile, you fumbled around your desk, trying to figure out what to do with me until the managing editor arrived for my interview. You later confided how strongly you'd hoped I would succeed in that interview. I doubt even you realized the result would be falling in love, but the possibility is always worth pursuing -- especially for two people who have suffered great hurts in that arena.

As the Desiderata says, with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Our world was made more beautiful than I ever thought possible this year. I look at Dawson's face and see those same caring brown eyes I fell in love with six years ago. I thought I understood what it meant to be a parent, but until you actually experience the magic there are no accurate imaginings.

We have a chicken-and-egg relationship, I think. I don't remember which came first: falling in love or becoming best friends. The two are so tightly entwined, but it's how we survive. How we thrive. As my husband, you are always there to slay my insecurities, to build up my hopes and encourage me in all I do. As my best friend, you are just as quick to offer advice, to criticize when it's needed, to point out when my stubbornness has overcome my good sense. The combination is perfect. You know me so well.

Too often, you say you wonder what a girl like me is doing with a guy like you. You say you know those around us are wondering the same thing. A girl like me is lucky to have a guy like you, Bob. Anyone would be. Don't ever forget that.

Happy 32nd birthday.

Cheese,

Callie

Callie Clark Miller is editor of special publications for the Southeast Missourian. Bob Miller is the managing editor. They substitute the word "cheese" for "love", inspired by a movie (the title of which they can no longer recall) in which the girl tells the guy that saying "I love you" over and over can become as emotionless as saying "I like cheese." If you know the name of this movie, e-mail them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com

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