Jason was born on February 11th, so I always opted for nixing Valentine’s day festivities to celebrate his birthday. It mattered more to me than a teddy bear and chocolates. Jason never cared, but I did. He never wanted to make a fuss over his birthday, but I managed to figure out a way to celebrate no matter what was happening in our lives. I mean, he always did something for me for the holiday, whether it was a card, or a stuffed toy, or candy, or even just a small note on the fridge, he never allowed the day to go by without acknowledging the romance a relationship needs. He was so great that way.

 We had plenty of holidays and birthdays that went by, where we didn’t have a lot of resources available to buy things for one another, but we always made the best of it. I think we were married just a few years, and things were tight. I wasn’t working, and I was pregnant with our second son, but I felt so horrible because I had no money to buy him anything. He worked hard and took care of myself, our oldest son Julian, our home, and this new baby that was on its way. I truly felt unworthy sometimes, but he wanted it this way. I decided to make him a card and let Julian make some scribbles on it, because what better way to say “I love you daddy” than some Crayola scratches? I’m no artist by any means, but I drew a picture of myself (with a plump 5 month belly) and Julian with big smiles on our faces. On the inside, I used finger paints to press an imprint of Julian’s little chubby palm print. Jason was thrilled! He especially loved Julian’s little palm print, and decided to frame the card with the inside out, so the palm print was exposed. I was so happy!

 I managed to have enough funds left over for a six pack of Bud Light, made a pot of spaghetti, and got a movie rental. I cleaned Julian up, fed him, and put him to bed. Then, I ran Jason a bubble bath, served his beer to him, and let him soak in the bubbles. He wasn’t much of a bath kind of guy, but I think he entertained the idea to make me happy. I sat on the toilet, talking to him, and decided to join him, even though we were tightly squeezed. My belly was taking up more space than I’d like to admit. Anyway, we just sat there, soaking together and talking about names for the new baby, and how great of a big brother Julian was going to be. We wondered if this new little bundle was going to drive us crazy or make us complete. We knew it would likely be a little of both, so we were kind of elated and anxious all at once.

 We sat there so long, talking and enjoying one another that we wrinkled up and the water got cold. We got out, and sat at the table and lit some candles. I with Faygo grape soda and he with his Bud Light, talking over candle light and pasta about our future, what we wanted, what made us nervous, and how our family would be. We were really excited to be parents of another sweet little boy, and we had settled on a name we had heard from a movie, Tristan was the name. I was so in love with it, and Jason liked it as well. We nestled on the sofa, and I gave him a foot massage, and we watch the movie I rented. I can’t really remember what it was now, but I do remember how special that night was. Julian stayed asleep all night, and we cuddled and chatted about the movie. He said it was one of the best birthdays he had ever had. I can remember it so vividly! It was in that moment that I realized what kind of father he was. It was in that moment when I knew how fortunate I had been to have him as a father and provider for my children and myself. In that moment, I fell in love with him on a whole different level. I saw him as a man, not the guy I crushed on for so many years. I saw the man he was growing into, and it made me so happy and so excited to know he was mine. I knew at that moment that I had made the smartest decision ever to marry this man. I can’t describe what this feels like, knowing you’re going to spend the rest of your life with the right person. He was the guy that made me a woman, a wife, a mama, and an all around better human being, and I knew this. I was so content to be his wife, I had never really gave much consideration of what it was to be anything else. I didn’t need to because I was perfectly happy with being his.

I know this is why losing him was not just devastating, but the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me. I had to learn what I wanted for myself, by myself, because my life was centered on being what made him happy, because that made me happy. It’s taken me some time to figure out what I want and need and desire, but I’ve come pretty far. I know I’ll never have that relationship again, and that’s okay because I treasure what I had with Jason. However, I do want to make someone happy again. I want to take care of someone, not because they can’t take care of themselves but because I want to, and because they appreciate that I want to. There’s no doubt in my mind that I will be much more independent with a new relationship, but I still want to be a wife, or at least someone of significance to another. I enjoyed it. I truly feel fulfilled taking care of my man. I have no problem with an independent man. I like a man that can cook and clean and do all those domestic deeds, I think it’s really sexy when a guy can be comfortable in that role. Still, I know I made Jason happy, and I know I’m good at it. I’m good at loving. I think he taught me that. He taught me how to put someone else before me, and what that feels like. It’s hard to explain other than to say, it makes the world a much more beautiful place when you live for another person. It helps one see and understand the world around them, outside the ego and selfishness that so naturally comes to us as humans in a material world. We’re fallible, and love corrects that. Love makes people better at being a person, a grounded, humble, contented person. Love does that…and so much more! It was Jason’s birthday, but a gift to me. One I’ll always carry because it helped create the person I am.