Today is Pat's birthday. 39 years ago today, just before noon, the great love of my life entered the world. His birthday is a date of profound gratitude for me; every year, I spend a misty-eyed day thanking heaven for him.
This will shock him. He is the romantic and sentimental half of our dyad. I am always focused on the here and now and the tomorrow, but his eyes are on the possible and the magical. He remembers beautiful places, amusing anecdotes, and anniversaries of the small and delightful milestones that build a love affair.
I love him with every fiber of my being, but it is not enough to repay his oceanic and ravishing love in kind. There is not a day when he does not tell me, spontaneously and several times, that he loves me. He says it in words, but he also says it in other ways: when he tries to take something frustrating from my hands to help me (and, poor soul, most often gets scolded), when he sings me little songs while I am in the shower or cooking, when he refreshes my drinks, when he waters my plants, when he sends me leetspeak valentines (like this: "<3" or "love that duck!")
His love is bigger than the two of us: he is never happier than when he is helping other people or animals. He loves his teaching job. He loves volunteering to help wildlife. He loves our silly ducks.
He is creative, wildly dreamy, passionate about his hobbies. If his gaze is abstracted and dreamy, I know he is inventing something in his head, whether it is a lecture for his students, or an imaginary spaceship drive. Most days, he spends any available moment cuddled up around my (his! our!) guitar, teaching himself to play more beautifully than I ever did, and priding himself on his burgeoning calluses.
He is funny. No song goes unpunished without a new set of lyrics, often sung by a puppetless puppet-hand "imp" in silly voices. He hated it that everyone wrote in his high school yearbook that he was clever, but like it or not, he is witty indeed and I love his silliness and irony equally. It took years for my family to crack his deadpan delivery and realize that his gravitas was not simply "serious" and "quiet": I can remember my mother's open mouth and simultaneously gleeful and appalled expression the day she caught on.
He is entertaining. I will forever remember the summer we spent playing cribbage all night and listening to our music collection on "shuffle." Likewise, he tells brilliant stories at parties and to our friends; it is always a joy to be by his side.
He is true. We have been married for 20 years and I know with my whole heart that his vision of the future always includes me. This commitment is without complacency; every day, he connects with me, blocks my path from the kitchen to other parts of the house and collects an exasperated kiss as a toll, discusses his ideas, tells me jokes, includes me in his plans.
He is a family man. He loves my family wholeheartedly. There is no truer joy than having one's lover and one's family aligned and unified, and this is the gift I enjoy daily. He and my wonderful little brother are best friends. My mother adores him as much as he loves her, and they happily spend more time together than my mom and I do.
He is attentive. He listens to me chattering about my work days and remembers the details, even months later. He could step into my position and do my job without a break in quality; he knows my customers, the vocabulary and priorities of my work, and my underwriters. When I tell him a story, he asks, "this is the one who ____" and he is always correct. It is gratifying and mortifying at once to know how much he hears of my daily complaints.
He is strong. He faces bad news with loving stoicism when I am collapsing emotionally, but if it comes up again later, when I have put myself together and am sane again, he cries with me. I do not have his strength. He is jealous of my proximity to the special heartaches of infertility treatment from the woman's perspective.
He is a friend. He encourages my good and my bad habits with equal pleasure, but he manages to make me a better person with each passing day. He makes me proud -- of him, of myself.
He is considerate. He calls me beautiful even if my face is red and cracked from rosacea -- and makes "hubba hubba" noises and gets grabby when I undress, even though the actuarial tables will tell you I am seriously obese. He prefers me without cosmetics but never fails to notice if I doll up for an event.
He is sexy, wicked, delightful, and sensual, when I have him all to myself.
There is nobody luckier than I am. And again, no, you may not have him: he is mine.
I love you, honey. Happy birthday.