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Dear Megan,

In the middle school library, the first time I saw you, you were sitting cross-legged on a bean bag chair cradling a book in your hands. Dark brown curls fell down your shoulders as you read aloud to the visiting third grade class. I was fresh out of grad school and excited to be a grossly underpaid middle school history teacher. I looked like a history teacher too, that or an English teacher. With my corduroy pants, striped sweater, and glasses perpetually halfway down my nose, I really could have been either one, that is, until you saw me whip out my pocket sized Declaration of Independence. You were the most beautiful librarian I had ever seen. You even had the thick rimmed librarian-style glasses that framed your grey-blue eyes perfectly when you looked up from your book and smiled at me.

In front of that old botanical garden, we had our first date. I brought a thick wool blanket and the finest picnic foods I could get my hands on. I laid it out on the grass by the pond and we sat there for hours, talking and laughing. You told me all about where you grew up, in a little mountain town that only had one stoplight and where your dad owned a tiny corner store that you had worked in as a teenager. Everything you said to me sounded like the most enchanting story I had ever heard, the way you spoke was mesmerizing and calming in the same way a lullaby is. I, on the other hand, fumbled around with words when I told you my life story. I had always been better at writing anyway, but for some unknown reason, you still seemed to hang on every word I said. You even laughed at my nerdiest jokes, and I wanted the sound of your laugh to be the only thing I heard ever again. At the end of the day, we walked out of the park and onto the street where people were busy worrying about their problems and rushing to another place. You took my hand, kissed my cheek, turned around, and left me standing alone on the street with a wicker basket in my hand, a dirty blanket under my arm, and a heart on my sleeve.

In November of that year, I took you home to meet my family. Looking back, I should’ve waited, or I should’ve kept you away from them forever, but at the time I decided that 6 months was sufficient time for you to like me well enough to meet them and not run for the hills. So, we showed up at my folks’ house in high spirits, blissfully unaware of the hell we would endure the following two days. From the moment that my mom hugged me and ignored you, I knew we were in for a bad weekend. Aunt Caroline was screaming at Uncle Tom when we got inside about god-knows-what, and their three little boys were pulling at the dog’s fur. I wanted to lean over and whisper to you that it wasn’t usually this crazy, but that would’ve been a lie so I settled for putting my arm around your shoulder as much to comfort you as to make sure you weren’t knocked over by the boys who were, by that point, running at top speed up and down the hallway like little maniacs. The meals that proceeded over the weekend were a series of intense interrogations for you conducted by my well meaning, but still overprotective mother. The topics ranged from your family, to your job, to your religious beliefs, and when you wanted to have children. My mom would never think anyone was good enough for me, but that time she was wrong. That time she had it backwards, I didn’t think I deserved you, Megan. You handled the weekend with such an amazing sense of poise and after we finally left, you even convincingly told me that you had liked everyone and couldn’t wait to see them again


Under the arch full of daisies, a year of waiting was finally over. A year beforehand I had taken you on a vacation to the Bahamas and rented a sailboat. We spent a week snorkeling in clear blue water and fishing to get our dinners. On the last night, anchored off of a tiny island, there was a waning moon bright enough to see without light, but dark enough that the millions of stars could still be seen above. Laying on top of the covered row boat, looking for falling stars, I asked you to be my wife and on the day of our wedding, as I watched you walk towards me, I had never been so happy that you said yes. Then we declared our love with silly, meaningful, honest promises. I had to read mine off of a sheet of paper because I was still terrible at spoken word. To you, I vowed to never fold the pages of any book you had to look at, to get you donuts when you had a rough day, and to love you everyday of my life. You recited your vows to me like it was the first time you had dared to read them aloud, with a sincerity and rawness that made me fall for you again, right there. You vowed to celebrate every silly holiday I claimed was from an extinct civilization, but that I felt still needed to be observed, to make me baked potato soup for every meal on my birthday, and to love me everyday that you lived. I kissed you, my new bride, my new wife, and we danced the night away to the sounds of a truly terrible cover band.


In a mostly empty, cookie-cutter house, on a suburban street outside of Denver, I sat on the floor on one side of the kitchen and you sat on the other, each of us fuming. We  had just gotten back from our honeymoon in Barbados, still on that newlywed high, still in our own world, still perfectly happy. That’s when disaster struck. Well, not really, but that was when we had our first fight and, boy, did we handle it terribly. We had closed on the house before the wedding and decided to move in the week after we got back. Everything was already packed up from our apartments so all that we had to do was get it to the new house. It was the first time we were living together and our ideas about how the house was going to look and what things we were going to use were, as we were beginning to see, very different. Looking back now, neither of us remember what exactly led us sitting on the dark-cherry hardwood floor in an empty, save for the paper plates and plastic forks, cream colored kitchen, leaning on the brand new black cupboards, throwing looks that would’ve inflicted maximum pain if they were given the chance. What I do remember is that I hated that feeling, that feeling of wanting to yell and scream at you, and that I learned a very important lesson that day. I wanted you to be happy more than I wanted to be right and more than I wanted to win every argument or fight we had. I learned the two words that have yet to fail me, that always make you happier, that usually stop you from being mad at me… “Yes, dear.” In the days that followed our fight, I just remember saying those words over and over, because I didn’t care what color shades we got or where we put the couch, but you did and I wanted you to be happy, so I said “yes, dear” and I moved it back to the other side of the room.


In the hospital waiting room, the doctor broke the news to our families that you and I had two new baby girls. He told them that they could go see them in the nursery from the window, but they’d need to wait to officially meet them. Our moms were the first to reach the window and couldn’t stop cooing over them in their pink blankets and hats. Adriana was born at 6:51 pm and weighed 5 lbs and 2 oz. Her younger sister, Nicole, was born at 7:15 pm and was 5 lbs and 13 oz of happiness from the very first moment. However, you had to tell me about Nicole being born because that was the day I realized I couldn’t handle the sight of blood. I had passed out after Adriana was born and nothing they did could get me to wake up. But when I did finally come to, all too late, I saw the best thing I’d ever witnessed. In a plain hospital room, you, tired and sweaty, were sitting upright in a plain white bed, cradling in your arms, two perfect little baby girls wrapped in pink blankets with pink hats, our baby girls.


In the living room, sitting on the couch that, three years beforehand, you had made me push from one side of the room to the other until it was perfectly centered in our living room, I told you that I wanted to join the army. At first I think you were hurt because you thought I wanted to leave you and our 15 month old daughters, that it was too much for me at home and I needed a way out. I told you that they were the reason I wanted to do this, that I wanted to be part of the reason our kids were safe and it was perfect timing because my contract at the local community college was about to end. In the following weeks you were so supportive of me, even though by doing so you were ensuring I was going to have to leave you soon. Then the day you were dreading came and I got my orders to ship the next month. The day I left you and the girls was the hardest day of my life. Closing that door on my way out that last morning, it took every ounce of willpower I had and every muscle in my body to not turn around and run back inside to you and the life a history teacher should lead.


In a tan army tent in a place I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that it’s hellish, I have to write you this letter. This letter that has to say everything I’ll ever tell you again. It has to express to you everything I’ve ever felt about you, everything I ever wanted for you, for us, for our girls. It has to get across how much of a difference you made in my life, how much joy and love and happiness you brought to it. All of moments I just wrote about were some of the best and most important days of my life. They are what I want you to think of if you get sad or lonely. I need them to show you all the things I was terrible at putting into words. In this letter I have to tell you I love you, and that everything I’ve done since the day I met you in that library was to make sure you knew that. I left you to come to this horrible place because I wanted to do more to make sure the three of you were going to stay safe. As I’m writing this, I have every intention of coming back to you girls and loving you and protecting you from under the same roof, but if this letter has to fulfill it’s destiny and you’re reading it without me standing in front of you, then just know that I did everything any man ever could to make our daughters’ lives better and safer and to make you feel loved and happy.


I hope I am the one reading this to you, but if I’m not, I love you and don’t miss me too much.




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