Hell of a summer it’s been for us. Both good and bad. The paradox of the-hell-of-a-good-summer and hell-of-a-bad-summer has weighed on my mind for most of the last 3 months. I have a different post about this prepared and ready to be published, but I haven’t been brave enough to share it yet.

What I am brave enough to share right now is that once there was a man and a woman, and for 8 years they loved each other the best way they knew how. And it almost wasn’t good enough. Almost.

They shared many laughs and tears and burdens and blessings. They grew up and they fell apart. They argued. And argued. And argued some more. And sometimes they said really mean things and forgot that they were supposed to cherish each other. They forgot to be patient. They forgot to be humble.

In those 8 years, they wrote love notes and planned surprise dates. They took care of each other in some of their darkest moments. They traveled, they dreamed. Sometimes they stayed up all night for strife. And sometimes they stayed up all night for love. Three times they made life together. Twice those babies were born. Beautiful, precious babies, born of a flawed but fierce love. They made a family. They built a life. It was never perfect. But it was theirs

I lie here tonight, cradled in the crook of my husband’s arm. He falls asleep quickly and I hear his breathing change. It slows and then his gentle breaths give way to gentle snores and I smile. He is so familiar.

I breathe him in. That smell that left me intoxicated when we were new to each other. That mix of soap and sweat and him. That smell I love. And I realize, in this moment, that once again I am drunk on his love. I smile again because this is also familiar. And I realize he is comfort and safety and home and love.

In the dim light, I watch his chest rise and fall with each breath. I trace his smooth skin with my fingers. I think about how much I love this man. How much I’ve always loved this man. This man who trusted me with his wounded and broken heart all those years ago. This man who let himself love me in spite of his fears. This man who coached me through childbirth twice, and delivered our daughter, and nursed my crumpled body and broken soul when we lost a pregnancy. This man who never once batted an eye about our son’s diagnosis and who takes extra time with our daughter for the little things because he knows the little things add up to be the big things. This man who works himself to the bone to take care of us. This man who is so familiar to me, who loves me more than I ever knew. I mouth a quiet prayer. Thank you, God, for this man. Thank you for teaching us to love each other better…

For a while, we got lost in life. And our best love almost wasn’t good enough. Almost.

…But tonight, he is here. We are here. A little battered, a little broken, but here. We are healing and growing and loving. We are doing better for each other and for our family. And I think, this is marriage. It’s hard and brutal and it sure can break you. But it’s also beautiful and precious and sustaining. It’s about so much more than just ourselves. And it’s easy to get lost. So easy. I think how different this could be–how he could be snoring somewhere else, how I could be sleeping alone, and I close my eyes to blink away the tears. I can’t imagine my life without this man.

Once there was a man and a woman. They loved each other the best way they knew how. And it almost wasn’t good enough. Almost.