I don’t remember meeting Henry for the first time. It’s true. And I feel really bad about it. Shame on me for not having a first memory! Because he really really deserves a great first memory. Time didn’t stop. Birds didn’t sing. Wind didn’t blow in his hair like a fan on a Telenovela series. And no…I don’t recall fainting, forgetting my name or suggesting we play Yahtzee (another story altogether).
I always thought when I met the man that I would eventually marry, that I would feel something different. What do I mean by different? I don’t really know..something having to do with talking woodland creatures, wind, and heavenly hosts. I later learned that whatever I thought I knew about love and fairy tales was a bunch of crap. It really was. Buckets of it. Fact of the matter is, I knew nothing about love, twue wuuuuv. I knew nothing until I met Henry. And he taught me, not just the perfect way to apply hot sauce to tacos, but how to love. And not just how to love him, but how to love myself.
I didn’t know this at the time we first met, but Henry would change me. I know what you’re thinking, and no, you don’t need to start calling me Chaz or Elphaba. What I’m trying to say is, I now shave my legs more often. And I see the world through the eyes of his love (thank you Melissa Manchester). Henry is my split-soul, my twin flame, my spirit animal, my space monkey (I think that’s maybe something else). We were MFEO (hopefully my Sleepless in Seattle reference isn’t lost on anyone). And our love actually started small.
He would start by making me laugh. a lot. We would say the EXACT SAME THINGS at the EXACT SAME TIME. (Like today, when we said “Dairy Queen” in unison out of the blue). I would fall in love with his brown skin and freckles and the fact that he could talk about his favorite Bachelorette villain one second and the use of Iambic pentameter in Shakespearean sonnets the next. He would fascinate me (that lip curl…).
And soon he would play French music all the while Julia Child-ing beef bourguignon (I love how he whips a towel over his shoulder when he cooks). He would bring me flowers wrapped in paper. We would sing in the car (He does Renee Flemming better than Renee Flemming). He would put his hand on the small of my back when we’d walk into a crowded room. He would laugh at my jokes. He would love my family as his own. He would hold my cold hand in his warm one and pull the joined set over his chest as if making an oath, an oath that no matter how tough things got, he would stay.
And later he would marry me. He would help me wash my hair when I got too out of breath to do so on my own. He would help me get out of bed when I didn’t have the strength or will. He would carry my oxygen tank for me so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable. He would celebrate with me the tiny victories, and cry with me at our tiny losses. He would rub sore muscles and repeat to me what I so often forget to do these days, “breathe…in and out…slow and steady. Everything’s going to be ok.”
I didn’t know all this then. But since I’m imparting life lessons that I’ve learned with the perspective that I didn’t ask for, here’s this: 1. Love conquers all. 2. Pizza and hot dogs in one night is a mistake. 3. There are no mistakes in life. 4. You can never have too many ketchup cups. And 5. if laughter truly is the best medicine, then I know for a fact that Henry can heal me.
Anne of Green Gables said it best, “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.” While I may never replace his love for Michelle Kwan or Rafa Nadal, I know this for sure: I don’t exist apart from us, for he is the greatest part of me. And I don’t need to live happily ever after, just as long as I get to live with him.
Happy Birthday Henry, my reason for living.