To My One and Only

Dear Future Husband,

I went to a concert last night. It was all about love songs and romance. As impressed as I was by the artists’ musicianship—good gracious, they had skillz—I left feeling less-than-satisfied. This was surprising because (as you will eventually learn) I am generally as sentimental as they come. I’m all about the heart. I hope that will be one of your favorite things about me. I love romantic things and swoony tales of love, so I really thought last night would’ve been right up my alley. I did eventually realize why last night didn’t stir my heart: those incredible musicians didn’t convince me they really knew what they were singing about. They could hit the high notes, but did they actually know what it was like to live the love they were singing about?

I have seen real love.

Real love sleeps on the couch and wakes up in the middle of the night to give your husband his medicine.

By the way, you’re sleeping on the couch because your husband is dying and the only place his just-delivered hospital bed will fit is in the living room. You’re sleeping on the couch because even though it’s across the room from the bed, this is the only way you can sleep near your husband of 20 years. Real love does this.

Real love sits and explains to you, No, love, you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom anymore—the nurse put in a catheter, don’t you see it? Real love sits and explains to you, again and again because you’re dying and you don’t understand why your body doesn’t work like it always did.

I have seen real love, and she is patient, she is kind, just like St. Paul says. She really does bear all things, and it’s really true that she never fails. But here’s the thing: real love isn’t a sweet, saccharine, idyllic thing.

It is messy.

It is gross.

It is hard.

It is able to stand in the face of suffering and death and say, “Even if I come out on the other side of this alone, I’m not turning back—I will stay with you.”

Maybe I have seen too many of the sad things in life to abide by the confectionary-sweet version of love our world seems obsessed with. Maybe some will call me cynical, angry, negative, lonely, a pessimist. But I would disagree.

I think I’m actually a true optimist.

I know the cost of love—what it truly costs, not just what it says it will give. I wait for a love that is real, that acts when it’s supposed to, that stays when a more selfish heart would say run, that holds my hand even as I take my final breaths.

I know this love is rare, but I know it exists. I have seen it with my own eyes. I know it exists, I believe it will come, and I will not settle for less. I believe in you. I believe you will come.

Yes, my dear one, I can’t wait to meet you, and flirt with you, and fall in love with you, and laugh with you, and build a life with you, and travel with you, and pray with you. And while I hope this doesn’t happen for a long, long time, I can’t wait to be with you as one of us takes our very last breath and sees Jesus face to face and can say to him, “Yes, Lord, I loved the one you gave me.”

For now and forever,

Carrie

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