I wake up beside you and watch you sleep, a peaceful smile playing on your lips.
The first light of dawn lands gently on your face, erasing the lines at the corner of your eyes and leaving a soft glow on the curve of your cheek. You are tangled in sheets, your bare chest covered in soft hair.
Your arm is raised above your head, and I lay my head on your chest in the spot you reserve just for me, wrapping myself around your warmth.
My fingers run across the curve of your lips and the sturdiness of your unwavering jaw, then trace the strong shoulder and arms that have held me tight and kept me steady when I’ve been at both my best and worst. They glide over your capable hands, hands that have held babies, held little fingers, and held back tears as children have grown.
I think about the younger you I know from pictures, with your long legs and solid arms. You’ve grown to know that the measure of a man is not found in stature, but in having the strength to hold the heart of a woman or a child without crushing its softest parts.
I close my eyes and feel your heart beat beneath my smile. Yours is an unfaltering, good heart, strong enough to stand up for what is right, and tender enough to feel joy and pain and the kind of selfless love that only deepens as years go by. It holds a steady rhythm, holding time for those who have grown to rely on its unwavering tempo.
We are taught that aging is a process we must fight, and that life is for the very young. That is wrong, it turns out. There is such beauty in having learned that the greatest things in life are not things at all, and wrinkles are a small price to pay for years of smiles and sunshine.
Years have wisened us to appreciate the moments as they come. We cannot put a price tag on the lessons that have taught us to brave the storms, knowing the sun will shine in the end. We know now to hold tight to those who see our flaws and love us despite—and because of—the paths we’ve taken to become who we are.
I think of these things as my hand softly traces your skin, memorizing each line and curve as it has a thousand times before. I close my eyes for a moment, taking in my own contentment as my palm comes to a rest on the slope of your chest.
My eyes open to see yours watching me. You smile and say, “I love your touch,” in the same soft voice that has melted me so many times. I breathe you in, the scent of sleep still moist on your skin, and I know this is happiness.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own