My husband, Tom, has known me since before I was pregnant. We met in our late teens, working together at a small roadside café. He was a short order cook and I a waitress. We hit it off immediately.
Our friendship is one of the brightest spots of my youth, with specific moments of happiness I cherish to this day. We could talk on the phone for hours at a time and, I admit, there were many nights I hardly slept during those years. What we talked about is not important, it’s how I felt: appreciated, respected, and valued; smart and worthy of love. We went to campus theater productions and concerts together and we played guitar with his dad in the basement of his split level. We were the best of friends, with that sprinkle of chemistry that still gives me butterflies to this day. This all continued until his girlfriend said “Enough!” and with good reason.
When we talk about it now, we are so grateful we were parted from each other. If we had tried to make a go of being a couple we would have likely self-destructed. Instead, he went off to college.
A couple years later he came home for the holidays and happened to run into me at the mall. I was eight months pregnant, alone and lonely. I remember he came over to my house, and sat with me. Actually sat with me and held me on the couch, cradling me in his arms while I leaned into him, his hands on my belly. Many years later, when meeting my son for the first time, he asked me if Tom was his father. I told him no, but that he was the only person to truly share, even if for a brief time, in my life during that time. And he was the only person to truly feel you in my tummy.
Today, I can’t imagine my life without him, and I need to say thank you.
Thank you to the man who always encouraged me to pursue a relationship with my son, who shared my hopes and dreams for our future, who grieves for my loss, and recognizes it as his own. Thank you to my best friend, who has shared this journey with me, from that day on the couch to celebrating his 7th birthday in Taxco, Mexico to standing next to me at his graveside. Thank you for holding my hand, wiping my tears, and guiding me through this process with gentle strength and kindness.