#7: Love

Yesterday you told me you are having trouble getting into the book you’re reading. I told you I’m having trouble getting into my own head.

It’s not a comfortable place to be most of the time, so lately I’ve been filling it with distractions and busy-ness and anything other than the thoughts constantly streaming through my very tired brain. I watch Netflix. I check Twitter. I listen to podcasts. I thumb through Instagram stories. Sometimes the only way to exist in my own head is to fill it with enough static that I can’t hear anything else.

Today is Valentine’s Day. It’s never meant much to me (though I was plenty annoyed the year you had to travel on February 14 because Marian Gaborik lost his passport on a plane and you had to help him replace it). I would happily ignore this day like I’ve been trying to ignore my constant worry and fear for you, but anymore all these holidays, even the ones I find silly, seem weightier. Plus, this one is about love, and, more than anything in the world, I love you.

So while I haven’t wanted to focus on my own thoughts lately, I am happy to focus on you.

I’ve said that one good thing to come out of this is that more people will know you. Because more people should know you.

They should see how selfless you are, how humble you are, how you have no ego in a profession that is full of them and how I’ve never known anyone who can so easily laugh at themselves. They should know how you love unconditionally and how you forgive and really, truly forget when people take advantage of that love. They should know that you always do the right thing and make the right choice whether or not it’s popular or you will ever get any credit for it and that you are the one person I know who listens to criticism and takes it in and actually applies it. You are living proof that when we know better, we can and should do better.

People should know that you have never wallowed. In the darkest days after your diagnosis, when the tears spilled down your face, they were for me and the kids and the idea of how sad we would be without you, not about all the horrible things you would have to face. That instead of crumbling, you loved harder and hugged tighter. They should know that as you stopped being able to sign your name and tie your shoes, I never once saw you shed a tear over losing your dominant hand. That last week when I asked you what you miss most about having two good hands, you didn’t hesitate before saying, “Nothing.”

They should know that you are the most grateful and positive person. That you are so good at being present, that I find notes all over the house from our kids, saying how much they love you. That they still run into your arms and squeal with joy when you come home from work each night, and that when they do, the biggest smile is on your face. Because in spite of everything, you are still always smiling and laughing and living. You inspire me and every single person who knows you. The kids and I wake up every day and feel ok because of you — because your optimism and your calm reassures us.

People should know that you are brilliant. You carved a career and a path where there wasn’t one and you just never gave up. You never played hockey, which was a strike against you in this league and sometimes still is, but smart people recognize smart people and you found your way to them. When you spent a year looking for a job after the Wild didn’t renew your contract, I never doubted for a second that you would succeed. Because you are the most resilient person I know, and I have never believed in someone as much as I believe in you. When things get hard, you get better and brighter and sharper and more determined.

People should know that you were made for this. You were made to inspire and do great things, to show people how to face their mortality with grace and love and intention. Watching you walk through these last months has been an honour. Your strength has given me mine. I am so proud of you, and I feel so lucky to be the one next to you in this life.

You should know — and I hope you already do — that I was made for this, too.

All those years ago at that bar on Brighton Ave, when I couldn’t stop staring at your smile and your blue eyes and when we piled into a cab with our friends to go home and our knees touched and my stomach flipped, the universe knew we would need to tell this story together.

We met when we were 21 and 23 years old and life seemed full of only good things. We fell in love and learned it’s hard to stay there. We buried your parents and had two babies and dealt with my stroke and now we are fighting for our future together. It’s not been simple or easy. It’s been a million times harder than I ever imagined it would be. But we wake up every morning and choose each other all over again, and because of that it’s also been a million times richer than I ever imagined it could be.

There are so many things about my life I am unsure of, so many things I question, but what I know for sure sustains me — I was put here to love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day. ♥️

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