“I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.” ~ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

When a woman in love thinks, “Where would I be without him?” — I’ll bet (being a woman myself) that more often than not, what she means is:

“Whatever would I do—”, or “What would become of me—” without him

That’s not what I mean.

When I say, “Where would I be without him?” – I mean exactly that.

If I had lived life not knowing this man of mine; not being loved and cared for by this man of mine; not having this man to watch over, encourage, prop up, guide, and yes, when appropriate, lead mewhere would I be, or rather, what would I be, even who would I be without him?

It’s a rhetorical question because I know the answer. Clarence the Angel doesn’t need to populate some alternate reality to fill me with wonder at the blessing of it all…

Nearly forty years ago, I met a boy. Oh yes, a boy. And I was a girl, and together we grew into a man and a woman. And along the way, we—together—made a lot of dumb choices. And together, we made some good ones.

Of course we made babies. Together. We raised them together. We also made money together. And together we spent it.

When mornings arrived, we opened the blinds and faced the world together, and when nights came, we closed them—so we could be together.

Years and years and years and years… of Together.

So where would I be without him?

Alone? Maybe. But worse than that.

I would be incomplete.

Not “incomplete”, as in missing a vital piece of what it means to be human, but “incomplete” as in unfinished. The young me would be an un-proofed manuscript, and the mature me, an unpublished one; for my husband has not only refined and taught me, he has facilitated me, or rather facilitated my growth; most often intentionally, as in helping to make my dreams come true; but sometimes… by pure accident—as in… he was just there: he was a fact, he had to be dealt with…which, of course meant that, eventually, with time—if he was to stay with me or I with him—my rough edges had to be smoothed and my square corners had to be rounded. Because of him, the more beautiful patterns and grains in my character are far more apparent.

Happy Birthday, Man of Mine. Thank you for scrubbing, peeling, and sanding; for rubbing out or covering my defects; thank you for layering me with color and varnish. Thank you from the start, for my finish.

Where, indeed, would I be without you?