As a young bride ignorant of how to even make a cup of tea, I cooked crunchy macaroni with lumpy cheese sauce from a box and more eggs than Village Inn. But every night, you ate anything I made in our 2 by 2 by nothing kitchen in that decaying trailer, and seemed even grateful.
“Would you please take me to Fabric World?” I asked—again. Patiently, you waited in the car or went inside as I caressed colorful bolts of fabric or looked through thick books for just the right pattern. You never complained. Not once did you ever make me feel bad about my eyesight though it meant extra work for you to drive me for groceries or a violin lesson.
In the years I played with Utah Valley Symphony, you went to every concert and applauded enthusiastically. “Do I look fat?” I asked, gazing at the mirror in the black maternity concert dress I’d made, self-conscious of my growing belly. No, you look beautiful, you’d said.
Hard to think about this without choking up: when I was too busy during the day to jog, you’d drive me at night to the track and read in the car for the hour until I finished.
Beset with racial taunting in school and ostracized by the white community where I lived, I had had few friends: kids just didn’t want to hang around a “foreigner.” So I was socially naive and inexperienced when we got married. You could easily have been manipulative, controlling, and even violent, and I might have thought that was normal. But you treated me like an equal.
You made me feel special. You gave “Atta girl’s” when I grew up with none. You gave me such mighty confidence and courage, like water slicing through steel, that I had had the strength to leave you. I’m sorry for that.
Eventually, though, true love came your way, and with your new wife, a daughter, the daughter you and I had wanted, the daughter to whom you gave the name we had chosen. You’re happy now; I’m glad. And our sons are glad.
Without you, I would not believe in my own worth as I do; it’s still hard when people converse around me like I was invisible, but without you, I might be less forgiving. Without you, I would not soar as high or travel as far, like applying to a PhD program this year—at our age—though I didn’t get accepted. Without you I’d be so much less.
Therefore, this I believe: some ex-husbands swim in goodness and dazzle like a sea of diamonds. You did. Unconditional love changes lives, and you changed my life forever.
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