I was cleaning out my overflowing in tray this morning and found an old love note My Beloved wrote to me a week after our first date, a little more than 9 years ago. It's all raggedy and battered from the number of times I've read it and carried it around and held it to my chest and smiled.
His words have the lightness of feathers. He was so young and so completely unfettered by sorrow and tragedy. I can hear his joy. His hope. His love.
And what he wrote about me? The girl he saw through rose-coloured glasses? I sound like a completely different person too.
He once told me, long ago, that I was like a perfect doll that had somehow gotten thrown into a box of broken toys, ending up overlooked and unloved.
And I think about how battered and bruised and jaded I am and wonder if I'm now one of the broken toys too. I must be.
I am no longer the person he fell in love with. I'm not the girl he describes on that page.
I know that's how it goes. You fall in love with someone and together you grow old, facing everything life throws at you along the way; huddling close during storms and turning your faces to the sun when the skies clear. Things change you, both good and bad, and the bond deepens and strengthens - if you're lucky. And we are. We are.
But when I read the note I found myself missing those two people who were on the brink of a great romance, dizzy with the flush of new-found love. I miss their innocence and their optimism and the promise that they believed life held for them.
Luckily, with time and experience comes the ability to see the bigger picture.
Because even in the midst of our loss, we have somehow gained. Our love - older and wiser - is not less than it was simply because we're no longer those young, undamaged people we once were. It's actually very much the opposite. It's bigger and deeper than it has ever been because in many ways we have become one, united against our grief and in our mutual determination to find happiness. Together.
We are warriors now. Fighting for survival, sanity and peace.
I miss the man he was. But I love the man he is.
And when I need to, I have a silly love letter to remember once upon a time while I'm walking towards happily every after.