Periodically I write little comments on my wife's bathroom mirror. Goofy stuff like, Beauty begins here, or, My heart is here, and then I add arrows pointing to where her face will be when she looks into the mirror. Stuff like that.
This week, it being near Christmas, I wrote, All I want for Christmas... and added those arrows pointing to where my wife's face will be. She wrote on my mirror, Is you! She drew a happy face.
And it is true. All I want for Christmas is my wife, and I tell her every year she is all I want, and I mean it. I don't think she believes me, so I decided to write it down. For some reason, writing things down adds a veracity and absolution to events that cannot be duplicated verbally.
So here it goes, My Love! I am making a list of the gifts you have given me over the years, ones you may not even realize you delivered, but which have been received and noted all the same. This is why you are my most treasured gift, and why you truly, truly are all I want for Christmas.
Christmas, 2005: Beauty
I simultaneously finalized my divorce with my oldest son's mother and met an amazing woman named Amanda. It was almost as if I had jumped overboard expecting to land in the ocean, only to find myself laid out on the deck of a passing ship. I had recently written a story about a man in such a situation who met a woman named Amanda, and I let her read the story, and I may post it later because it is short and sweet. She was beautiful. She still is, and perhaps I had not landed on another ship when I abandoned the old one. Perhaps I had washed onto the shores of a wonderful oasis, and she was cold water on burnt lips.
Oh, she was amazing. She still is, and I loved her from the moment we met. No awkward silences. No shy discomfort. I took her hand. I asked her to dance. She said, No, but she danced with me anyway and never let go of my hand. I taught her to two-step. She reminded me how beautiful life could be. One touch, one playful flirt, keep my hands to myself and no kissing on the first date, and is this our first date?
We spun that night, and somehow we were already an old couple. Neither of us felt those pangs and worries you feel when you first meet someone and sort of wonder if this is going to work out. There was none of that. It was absolute in that moment as when you hold a newborn child.
I loved this woman. There were no conditions on that statement, nothing she had to do to earn my affection. This love simply was.
She is a book I must have read in another life, because I already knew her, and she knew me, and with such primal knowledge there was no need for pretense or doubt or insecurity.
And that year, in 2005, the woman who would become my wife and bear me two sons showed me a beauty I had long, long forgotten.
Christmas, 2006: Passion
What else could follow such a beginning but passion? We were in love, and we danced, and we celebrated life and youth and freedom. We lit a gasoline bonfire, and that outburst from the darkness blinded us, seared our cheeks, and we reveled until the flames began to settle, and the light came back to our eyes. We found ourselves hovered together over a glowing warmth neither of us had ever experienced or expected.
Honestly, it scared the ever-living shit out of me.
Christmas, 2007: Patience
Oh, Lord did it scare me. I was terrified, and I had for so long allowed dark angels to perch on my shoulder and whisper in my ear that I followed their advice and ripped the petals off this incredible flower. I threw it in the fire, stomped the ashes and ran. I dove in the ocean and slapped the waves, and I left this beautiful, beautiful woman alone to stoke the embers.
Is patience even the right word for this year? Perhaps it should be tolerance, or faith, or something more befitting and specific, but I do believe patience encompasses these things. An underlying faith exists that things will turn out all right. There is a tolerance for the wait, and what happens while you watch the clock tock. She showed faith. She showed tolerance. She showed patience.
It was not a pretty year, and I did not swim very far from shore before I missed her warmth. My heart beat too heavy, and I sank. There really was no other choice but to turn back, wade ashore, sling off the muck and hope to receive what so few people are capable of giving.
I asked, and in 2008, this woman granted me the gift God himself believes is holy enough to sacrifice his own son.
Christmas, 2008: Forgiveness
She granted me forgiveness. I asked. She forgave. It was that easy, and here is that beauty I have seen since our first dance.
She even shares some of the guilt for my behavior, though she was not to blame. Fault lies entirely on me, and reading this she will likely sway her head, and if I were behind her she would turn and say, No, I did this and that, remember?
No you did not, Love. What you did was suffer, and then forgive without condition. That would be my answer to her, and she still would shake her head and insist on dividing my sins between us. She would probably tell me to go in the other room, now, and quit pestering her so she can read.
Not only did she forgive, but she asked for nothing in return and demanded no punitive damages. We simply sat down at our fire, uncovered the coals because they never died, not really, and began collecting sticks to rebuild something we both knew could be beautiful again.
Christmas, 2009: Determination
We rebuilt. We rekindled. We stacked logs on one another and I shrugged away those dark angels clinging to my shoulder. They fluttered over us, though, waiting, because they never go away, not really. They only shy from the light and crouch in the shadows. So we built up the fire. We surrounded ourselves with friends and family who believed in the light we could envision so vividly, and we bent our backs and poured the foundation of our home together.
Truly, this year my future wife kicked in the door to my heart. She dragged in her furniture and clothes and ensconced herself deep in my core and refused to budge, nor would I ever want her to leave. She is right where I want her, and there is a certain warmth to knowing someone will fight to keep you, or slug through dark waters to find you. I would have my own chance to test my patience and determination later, but first... we had to celebrate!
Christmas, 2010: Joy
Oh, the light began to shine. A boy was born. He cemented two older siblings who shared no blood. He joined a man and woman who both thought they might be too broken to find happiness. This year was pure joy, and this amazing woman spun in the center of it all, and here she would stop me and say, No, I didn't. It was all of us.
To which I would respond, Yes, you did. This was all you, and without your determination and will and grace, none of this would have happened.
Christmas, 2011: Bliss
What is bliss, really? It is living within the light such that you can see none of the dark. That is bliss. We lived in the light, and the dark angels flew far above. We embraced friends and family who would walk with us, and we lived what might have been the happiest year of either of our lives thus far.
Wanna get married? I was not very formal.
Neither was she. Sure, she said. How about Saint Patty's Day.
Perfect, I said.
And here is that old couple so comfortable with one another, married for lifetimes and many more to come. Neither of us felt any compulsion to pretend to be someone we were not. It was bliss. It was heaven. It was a wonderful, wonderful life, and she spun and I twirled her and our children danced around us, and the dark angels circled just beyond where we could see.
We made plans. She bought a dress, and that Christmas we shared a pleasant bliss that the light would forever burn around us.
Christmas, 2012: Strength
We married. Our two oldest children, bound now by one little boy dressed as a Leprechaun, red-headed, blue eyed, fair cheeked and protective of his gold-wrapped chocolates as the fairy creature he was, witnessed this woman give me her hand as she had on the first night we met. This time when I asked, she said, Yes, and we danced, and we celebrated, and the dark angels fell from the sky on a clear summer evening.
They took the little boy and flew him away. The joke was on them, because the boy left his heart with us, inside a little girl, but they knocked down this beautiful woman with their wing beats, stomped our fire and heaped sand on the ashes. They knocked us all down, and in some ways they still haunt our yard and peek through the windows, and we have to chase them away with a torch and a rock.
But here my wife made her own dash into the ocean, and she slapped the water and she screamed, and the dark angels shouted around her and there was nothing I could do but watch.
So I sat at our fire. I found a few embers, and I stoked them, and I waited. See, this woman about to drown herself had taught me patience, and when she waded ashore and slung off the muck and asked for that gift so few people are capable of giving, I said, Sit down, it was my fault, too. She had taught me grace and forgiveness as well.
And we sat for a while. We gathered wood, because she had taught me that steel-willed determination can lift mountains. We watched the flames begin to catch, and those friends and family who had seen the light with us huddled around us and provided warmth while the fire began to grow and a new light shone from the flames.
This new light was strength. These are blue flames, if you wonder, the color of dusk and dawn, and they are closest to the burn and sometimes not visible. They are the hottest flames. They may not chase away the dark angels with their light, but they will turn them to ashes if you can put their feathers to the test.
She and I burned blue that year, as did our two older children, as did our friends and family who could see the blue flame growing within my wife. The darkness shied away from us, but there was work to do and work that remains, because these creatures do not die easily.
Christmas, 2013: Encouragement
This Christmas my wife gave me endless encouragement. We decided to have another child, and at the same time I started a company and abandoned a flailing career. It was hard work and a headlong charge into the unknown. There was doubt. There was uncertainty. The dark angels whispered to us that we would fail, that we were weak, that we were misguided fools owing to the loss of our child and should do as we were told and douse our fire and quit.
My wife met this with the same determination she always meets challenges. She bent her head and got to work. She encouraged me. She supported me. She walked with me and I walked with her, sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always together in lock-step lock-arm, into the unknown, swatting away the doubters and waving our flames to snuff out the shadows. This was a Christmas of healing, still sore but not so wounded, and one in which we looked forward to the next year and the year after that.
Christmas, 2014: Hope
In 2014, for Christmas my wife bagged and tagged a bountiful bouquet of hope for me and our children. Another boy was born. His brother had ushered in joy. This one ushered in hope.
Life had swerved us down a back road that led to a destination unknown. There was only hope that we would find more light, faith that we had the strength and determination to get there. But we had been prepared for this journey, and my wife inspired hope in us all that we would find light amidst whatever the dark angels could drop from the sky.
As always, she was right. I believe she will agree heartily when I say she is always right.
Christmas, 2015: Optimism
In 2015, again the angels swarmed us, but they are no match for the blue flame and we know that, now. My wife casually fought them. It was like watching an ape fight a kitten, almost cruel how easily she dismissed the darkness of a failing business and the flap of wings as the whispers and threats began to surface from mouths we thought we had seared shut.
It was too easy for her. She is that strong. Our friends huddled around us. We stoked our fire. We cleaned our home and honed our strength against the stone of this new challenge. We employed all these skills my wife has inspired in me and our children, and showed the heart she inspires in everyone she meets.
She granted me optimism for Christmas in 2015. She reminded me of the hope she had given me the year before, and regifted her encouragement from 2013 with an extra box of strength she had saved up all year to purchase.
And there again is that beauty. Truly her beauty is the gift that keeps on giving.
She really is that strong, and her youthful, blissful, beautiful, magical optimism is another blue flame. She displays this optimism in everything she does, and she has all along, and I finally put my finger on the source of her strength.
It is an undying optimism that the future will always be a pleasant place to live, and that we should live there together for as long as we can.
Christmas, 2016: Wisdom
This year, I already figured out what she got me for Christmas. She is getting me wisdom. I think by now that should be pretty obvious.
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work here: Publications, or order directly from Amazon, or wherever books are sold.
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