He doesn’t say I’m beautiful.
He helps me up the stairs with a gentle guiding hand.
He hurries to the room, when I call out his name, whatever room I’m in.
He comes home with surprises from the local bakery.
He wheels me through the airport and museum, even as he is uncomfortable with crowds and it hurts his arms.
He doesn’t complain.
When I say I am thinking about growing my hair out grey, he encourages it, and says he likes grey hair. When I say my hair is actually more white than grey, he says he prefers white.
When I put on a bit of makeup, he says I look nice but also look fine without it.
When I look down at my growing tummy, he says, “I like it.”
When we have a spat, he gives me space and then asks to come in, and then apologizes for his part–sometimes with handwritten letters.
He rubs my back and kisses my toes. He holds me close when I cry and have trouble falling asleep — from anxiety, pain, or fear.
He listens to my frequent nightmares, the ones from dreams and the ones from the past. He asks if I am drinking enough water, and then brings me water, in my preferred mug (the clean one that doesn’t smell bad), with water he has collected from the artesian well downtown.
He leaves his office room for ‘object permanence checks,’ as he knows if I can’t see it (him), sometimes I question if it (he) exists.
He never comments on my messy, unbrushed hair or mismatched clothes. He doesn’t readily point out when I’ve made a mistake or error . . . in words or judgment.
He finds my oddities and antics and misuse of words to be charming.
He doesn’t laugh at my ways or mock me, or shake his head in disapproval.
He gives me the space and freedom to be me.
He is proud of my efforts at home and beyond, and tells me so. He stops to look at me, I mean really look at me, and offers a kind, gentle smile.
He makes a point to tell me this is the happiest he has ever been in his life.
He doesn’t objectify me or compare me to other people.
He doesn’t offer ways I can improve myself.
He rides the waves of my hormonal outbursts.
He prays for patience and to love me the best way possible.
And he does.
He tells silly, off the wall jokes and riddles.
He dances with me in the bedroom to ‘Brown Eyed Girl,’ and sings out the lyrics in a bashful voice.
He takes me to doctor appointments.
He helps shop for groceries.
He stocks the car and attic with emergency supplies.
He lends his dress shoes to my eldest son for that important interview.
He is silent and full of grace in harder times.
He is resilient and full of spunk in lighter moments.
He has introduced a genre of movies and shows that add spice to our collection. We bird watch together from balcony chairs, the ones he bought cushions for.
He refills the birdbath and worries for our feathered friends, scolding the neighbor’s cat . . . to go some other place. He says he will do something, and then he does it. He speaks the truth.
Means what he says. Says what he means. He says he’d die for me.
His hugs are tight and warm. He is a gentle giant, and my steadfast cheerleader and protector.
He doesn’t say I’m beautiful. He shows me.