We loved with a love that was more than love ~ Edgar Allan Poe
That statement by Poe explains everything and nothing about my love for my wife, who is celebrating a birthday today. It explains everything because our love is simple, and yet it explains nothing because there is truly no way to describe our love. Confused? Keep reading…this will reboot your brain.
When I was 15-years-old, I moved to Hawaii to live with my palagi grandfather in Laie. On one of the first Sunday’s at church, a Sunday School teacher handed us a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.
“I wan’ ‘choo to ‘rye down at least 12 characteristics ‘dat ‘choo like have you future companion to have,” she said in her clipped Japanese-Hawaiian pidgin accent.
I stared at that piece of paper for what seemed like an eternity and two things struck me while I was sitting in that classroom wondering why I couldn’t come up with anything to write down – 1) I’m 15-years-old, what the hell do I know about marriage and 2) why do all of my friends already have 12 things and more on their paper before I’ve written a single thing down? Obviously they had given the matter much more thought than I ever had.
My face grew hot when, after a few minutes, our teacher said, “Al-rye. We gon’ go ’round ‘da classroom. ‘Eh-ree-bah-deh ‘gon tell us ‘da firs’ ‘tree ‘tings on deah pe-pah ‘keh? ”
What? First of all this is not “The Dating Game” and second, what ‘kine class ‘dis brah?
As each person in the class started firing off items from their list, and as it got closer and closer to my turn I realized that everyone in the class was much better at this game than I was.
‘Kind’ said the girl whose name I never knew because every time I asked her for her name, she would reply in a voice that was barely above a whisper.
‘Self-sufficient’ said that kid whose hair was always neatly combed and styled and whom I assumed got straight A’s on every single report card in his life.
‘Caring’ said the guy whose family was well known in the community for going out of their way to help others.
“Set-eh?” her voice rang like a bell inside my brain and lingered there making me dizzy.
“Huh?” I replied, trying my best to be evasive like a point guard trying to run out the clock on the basketball court and I could run out of class shouting ‘Victory!’
“Waah’choo get on yo’ pay-pah?” My Sunday School teacher asked, running a full-court press to make sure that she can get the ball back before time runs out.
“C’mon wuh? You don’ know whaah ‘kine girl you like marry? Or whaah? You already get ’em?”
“Uh, I only have one thing written down.”
“Oh-keh! Say ’em den be’foah my own husband die alrea’deh.”
“You only wrote ‘Pretty’? Poo-ah braddah. I hope you lucky ‘eh?”
If I had an ego before that day, my Sunday School teacher made sure to squash that.
Several years later when I was finally at a place in life to really think about who I’d like to marry and what was important to find in a companion, my mind flashed back to that moment and I asked that question again – ‘What qualities or characteristics did I want in my spouse?’
The truth is, I always knew the answer to that question but the question itself seemed unnatural whether I was 15-years-old or 55. Also, making a list didn’t seem very genuine either. What I did know is that I wanted in my potential companion a person who shared the same values; someone who would accept the imperfect parts of me and help me to be a better person. I wanted someone who would advise me when I was being stupid, bad or confused. I needed someone who would see the good in me and encourage me to go one step further in times when it felt like I had nothing left to give.
When I first met my wife that word I wrote on that blank piece of paper when I was 15 came back to me and I made a mental check – she was (and still is) absolutely beautiful. And every day after that she has proven time and time again that she is every bit as beautiful in every other way imaginable.
She is driven, candid, smart, sassy, honest, creative and…stubborn – a quality that has helped me bring out the best in my own character.
She is compassionate, kind, humble, sincere, charitable, loving, devoted and so much more.
Like so many couples we have suffered our heartaches, we’ve celebrated so many triumphs and we have endured many trials together. In my life I can’t believe that I have lived a single day without her, because to this very moment, I know in my heart that I could never live without her.
Leo Tolstoy once said of love, “He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.”
My wife has given me so much of herself that I truly believe we are literally an extension of what we were before we met. I am blessed to share my life with her. Am I lucky? Absolutely. Am I a fool? Every bit a fool when I am with her and when we are apart. I thank God every day for merging our paths – and I will thank God again and again for every day that we have together forever.
Happy birthday my love – you complete my list.