Last night, I begged my husband, again, to please just show me he loves me in this exact particular way.
I've been asking for this exactly particular way of loving for a long time.
Last night, as we talked through tense bodies and tear-filled eyes, he started gently talking about the other ways he shows me. Like last week, when I got home from work and found the living room lit up with candles, a chocolate cake warm from the oven, and a guy who just wanted to sit down with me and hang out in the candlelight and eat cake together. Like a few months ago, when he wrote me a rap and performed it for me as a celebration of the still-new re-engagement ring we designed, as a celebration of us; I sobbed when he was done, it was so stunning. Like every morning, when he makes sure the dishes are done so I have more time to write or work or simply not do dishes.
"I feel like you forget about all of that when this happens."
When he became silent, I stared ahead.
And the grief I thought was long tucked away tore my skin off and left me sitting there, open to the air.
Because I realized that when my father died, he took the way he loved me with him.
My dad was a walking exclamation point. He exploded with laughter, and punctuated his happiness with words like, "HEYOH!!!"
He loved me like that, too.
He told me constantly how proud he was of me. He'd break out in song, singing "I love Emily, Emily Rita..." with not an ounce of self-consciousness. He'd write me letters and fill the lines with "I love you!!!!" and, at the end, his big swishing heart with "Dad" laced through.
I didn't know until last night that that kind of love was like water to me. I needed it and craved it and had it, whenever I wanted it, simply by making a phone call.
But the night his truck hit a tree going 20mph (how can you even die when you're only going 20mph?) the exclamation points got crushed, too.
Those almost-ten years that I've been asking my husband to love me just like that are the same almost-ten years that my dad's been dead.
Grief is a welcome bitch. She's so cleansing and necessary, and ignoring her does nothing but perpetuate unsettled feelings. But damn if it isn't scary to open the door to her again.
Blessed be the world that gave me that love for 24 years.
And blessed be the world that gave me this man, who keeps on loving me just the way he does.