***At first I didn't recognize you as mine. At first I thought you were just another man in a bar, easily dismissed and forgotten. At first I continued laughing with my friends, going about my business, not giving you a second thought.
You approached me, gave me your phone number. Instead of throwing it away, as I usually would have done, I called you.
In getting to know you, I felt understood. I felt the pull of something I didn't understand. I felt hopeful and romantic in a silly way. I felt certain and unshakable in my vision of our future. I acted nonchalantly, as if I didn't really care.
I recognized you as mine.
When I found out you had a child, I almost walked away. When you introduced me to him, I was terrified. The first time he told me he loved me, I cried.
***There have been moments - hours, days, weeks, months, years - of joy. There have been more times than not where we have been convinced that we'd gotten it right. We had this relationship thing figured out - down pat. All other couples should take lessons from us! We were just plain happy.
There have also been moments - very long moments (weeks, months) - of misery. We have mistreated each other, abused each other, taken each other for granted, and been just plain mean. There have been times when we were both convinced that it was over, that we could never recover from whatever had happened between us.
But something unbreakable connects us, it seems. Something stronger than love, more intense than shared parenthood, more important than promises. Something that won't allow us to end. Souls touching.
Through everything that we have endured and celebrated, every time we cursed each other's name or shared a lifetime with a single glance, every kiss and touch and words spoken in anger or whispered in love, you have helped me to be the person I want to be. You have helped me to be a better mother, daughter, sister, friend and woman.
You have amazed me with your talents, with your quick wit and patience with your children. You have shown me your strength and determination in the face of adversity and your absolute devotion to what is important to you. Your creativity and simple enjoyment of everyday life has always been astonishing to me. You have taught me how to open up and laugh more easily, and how to not be afraid.
Through it all, I have loved you. Through it all, I have believed in you.
I believe in us.
Merry Christmas Ryan. I love you.
"I'll be reaching for the stars with you, honey.
Who cares if no one else believes" --Blue October