When I lost my grandfather over five years ago I felt like I had lost my best friend. To a little girl whose father had abandoned her, my grandfather was everything. He and my grandmother took my fleeing mother and us three fatherless babies into their arms without question and I as the youngest and weakest took to my grandfather’s quiet masculine kindness the most. I adored him. I followed him everywhere. I copied what he did. We ate cornbread and milk on the front porch on warm, humid summer evenings. We listened to whippoorwills hearken the coming summer days. He slipped dollars into my palms whenever I asked and often when I hadn’t. From diapers to college he did these things. Until he no longer could.
The years after he died I felt lost. In body, mind, and soul. I had looked up to him and respected him so much. You can’t lose somebody you loved and just go back to living like you did before. I didn’t know how to live my life anymore.
Then I met you. Like my grandfather you emitted an attitude of candor, generosity, and innate wisdom. You had an easy sense of humor and a ready smile for anyone. You jumped at friendships, regardless of the risk of free fall. You befriended me though I was nearly a shell of a person. Then a funny thing happened. We fell in love. Quickly, then everyday since. I was broken but you took the time to see I could be repaired, put back together with the golden adhesion of your patience, laughter, and gentle reminders that I mattered to the world.
I would not have survived not meeting you. You pieced the puzzle of my heart back together, and added a greater complexity of happiness and self-worth than had been there before. You understood my brokenness, the loss I had experienced, and respected the influence of my grandfather on my life by asking for my hand in marriage on a hike to visit his final resting place, a mountaintop he had frequented, taking long breaks to absorb the magnificence of the vista. A place where he had passed on a love of nature to his children and grandchildren, a respect for the history of our family, the silent nobility of mourning the loss of his loved ones. Where the gods of the Appalachian Mountains had welcomed his soul into their guardianship.
You understand all this about me and more than I probably even know about myself. Every single day I thank the stars, God, the gods, the divine uncertainty of Chaos that I skipped work that day and found the love of my life.
Once again a whole human being,
A Soldier’s Wife