Long-time readers may recall that I write my husband Bill a Valentine’s letter every year. I haven’t missed a single year since I started in 1998, so this year makes letter number fifteen. All of those years were pretty great, though of course some years were better than others. I’ve even written him Valentine’s letters when I was out and out PISSED at him. I’ve thought, “Nope, I’m not writing one this year. Too freakin’ bad.” Then relented in the days or weeks leading up to the holiday, and still managed to write something meaningful and loving. See, not only am I a sucker for continuity and tradition, I’m also a sucker for this guy.

Usually I’ll write it in a Word document, bordered with pretty pink hearts, print it out and give it to him before he heads to work on Valentine’s day. He’ll read it, usually somewhere where I can’t watch him, them come give me a hug with a sheepish grin on his face. It’s really sweet, which is saying something because, Bill? Well, “sweet” doesn’t typically come to mind when thinking of words to describe him. Fun, generous, loyal, funny, responsible, principled, capable, smart, and sexy… but not what I’d call “sweet”. Except when I bring it out in him, or inspire him to sweetness. Which makes those occasions extra-special.

This year I wanted to do something a little different and put my note to him (well, “about him”, as it’s turning out to be this go-around) on-line. You see, I’m crazy mad about this guy. Again, long-time (and short-time, and first-time) readers know this EXTREMELY well. I used to write about my warm fuzzies for Bill a lot. A LOT a lot. Tons, even. Just because I haven’t as much in recent years doesn’t mean I no longer feel that way. I just figured there were only so many entries of “ZOMG I lurrrrrve him” that my readers would put up with.

Looks like you’re going to have to put up with one more.

When you’ve been with someone for a long time (eleven years married and fifteen together, this year) you forget that the other person doesn’t automatically know what you’re thinking and feeling. So we’ve kind of gotten out of the habit of being overt about our feelings for one another. That we love each other tremendously often goes unspoken. It’s kind of a “duh” thing – automatic and ever present to the point of being ubiquitous. Dangerously close to being taken for granted, sometimes. Then when one or the other of us expresses some concern at some perceived distance between us, the other is all, “Huh? I’m right here. I still feel the same way. Nothing has changed.”

See, mind reading would come in handy on occasion. Not EVERY occasion, else Bill says I’d run screaming from him in horror at the inner workings of his brain. I believe him.

Our relationship is cozy and comfortable. It’s a forever thing so guaranteed that it’s like light, or air – surrounding, supportive, necessary and essential, the absence of which doesn’t even cross the mind as a possibility. Being with Bill is as comfortable as being by myself, by which I mean that there are no guards, no affectations, no changing of hats or switching of faces. I just am, and he just is, and we’re just us.

It’s easy. Except when it isn’t. Bill and I have a lot in common, but also some things not so much in common. Those non-commonalities are hardly ever an issue, and are usually related to a difference in our moods at the time. Even when it’s NOT easy, the underlying descant of love can be heard, felt, seen. We may yell, or freeze each other out. We may go for a few days being stiflingly polite to one another. We’re not always particularly kind to one another. But I know I can stop in mid-holler (in fact, I have) and say, “Hey, I love you, you know.” And he might holler back, “I love you too, dammit.” And then I’ll crack a smile, and he’ll roll his eyes and grin. More often than not, one of us makes the other laugh in mid-argument. Doesn’t mean the argument’s over, but it does remind us that our argument is happening within a secure place.

For all that we’ve been together for so long, and have had our fair share of arguments, fighting is still a pretty alien thing for us. It throws us off-balance, left from center, and we’re just not good at staying mad at each other. It’s hard to stay mad at him, when every thought and experience that I have I want to share with him. He’s my best friend. The best moments are when we turn to each other in perfect accord, with a sudden realization of how great our lives are, and pause for a second to just bask.

A forever relationship, when properly built, allows us to lean on it when we need to. We don’t have to hold it up and we know we can rely on our foundation – our incredibly strong foundation – to get us through the times when more erosion is happening than building. But each time we build again, which happens with every lovely memory and every shared positive moment, we build stronger and higher. At this point we’re pretty darned palatial.

So. I love him. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. I think I’ll tell him, and show him, more often.

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And now, a subject-related musical interlude:

Followed by some (a very small random sampling) of Bill’s Greatest Hits:

- I let myself fall
- It was awesome, and then I cried
- Blessed
- Joyful hand holders
- Life is lived in moments
- The Wedding
- Never Enough
- Happy Little Entry
- There and back again
- Red rocks, creek obsession, and thee
- The story of how “Calvin” and I came to be. Prologue, part one, editorial note, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, and epilogue