When you get to a certain age, life can be counted in dog years, when every year takes on the meaning of seven. Things get speeded way up, faster and faster, seasons blending and blurring. So much happens, some of it critical.
Two years ago Bill and I married, but in some ways it feels like fourteen years, or even more. Maybe forever.
This is truly late love: he's in his 70s and I'm almost there. But it's surprising to both of us how much it feels like first love. Aging doesn't stop the romance, and no matter where you are now, the feelings of first love can come -- again -- when you least expect it.
But there are realities that come with aging. I was in and out of hospitals for much of last year. And then I was incapacitated for a couple of months, hooked to an IV.
For years I had lived alone and faced illness alone, and dealt with it. I was not used to someone being there for me. I toughed it out, as so many of us do.
But during this illness, there wasn't a single time I went for medical appointments or testing that Bill wasn't at my side. He took off from work every time no matter my protests.
And while I was on the IV he nursed me by clearing the lines twice a day himself, without question. He wanted to do it, to show me he was there for me. And throughout my recuperation he followed up with the same caring attention.
Sweet notes and affectionate words make me feel appreciated. Laughs and cuddles make me feel whole. But Bill's devotion is what makes me feel truly loved.
Take it from one who has lived long and sometimes hard, and for many years, alone: kindness is what you should seek. Kindness is what you should give back. That capacity, the capacity to give and to care, leads to real love.
Happy Anniversary, dear Bill. Thank you so much for loving me in sickness as well as health. And let these words remind you that I will always be there for you: in real years, in dog years, in all years.