This week the twins and I spent 112 hours and 47 minutes discussing the middle school Valentine’s dance.
It’s all so new, this dance thing. The first of many. And so it goes without saying that it requires intense discussion and analysis.
Hours on hours of conversation on what to wear and is a dress too much and should you curl your hair or wear it straight or look all casual with a carefully constructed messy bun. And then there’s the whole boy thing. Which boy might ask them to the dance and which boy they wanted to ask them and does any one really even dance because they don’t know how and should they just do the nae nae?
And all those butterflies in their stomach.
Super important overwhelming stuff.
And somewhere about hour 97, the twins asked me a question. “Even though I’ve been married for a hundred years, did I ever get butterflies anymore?“
I laughed out loud and said yes. Even now, I can still look at their father across a crowded room and see him smile at me with a twinkle in his brown eyes and melt just a little and feel a familiar flutter.
So today, I wanted to re-share one of my favorite love stories from the blog.
A long time ago in a land far away I stood in a navy dress with brass buttons and over-sized shoulder pads wearing bright red lipstick with my Lee Press-On Nails desperately clutching a chain link fence with tears streaming down my face…..
….and watched as my new husband sailed away.
Silently my shoulder padded shoulders shook with sobs as the ship got smaller and smaller. I frantically ran down the fence with eyes blinded by tears to try to catch one more glimpse before the ship turned the corner and headed out of the harbor. Hundreds and hundreds of sailors lined the decks of the ship that day, standing at attention with their crisp white uniforms gleaming in the sun and their heads held high as they left to fight the unknown.
Not one of those sailors knew what the future held.
Not one of those sailors knew what the fighting would bring.
Not one of those sailors knew if they would even return home.
And still they sailed on.
Days and weeks went by and as the country watched….the conflict escalated.
I stood my helplessly.
And then without warning it started. I arrived at work to see terrifying night-time pictures flashing across the national news with bomb after bomb and explosion after explosion….
….a half a world away.
The fighting had begun.
And when I saw those explosions, my world came crumbling down. I was here and he was there and the sheer helplessness of the situation overwhelmed me. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to reassure me that he was alright and that he was coming home and that he was going to sail back into the harbor on a sunny day with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, wearing his dress whites on the deck of that ship….
….and that all was right with the world.
But it wasn’t.
And I felt my heart crack in two.
And then….suddenly……I heard my name over the loud-speaker at work. They said they needed me in the office….that I needed to go at once…..that I had a call from an officer.
From an officer?
I didn’t want a call.
Not even a little.
All the calls I had ever seen in the movies from officers during a war…..never ended well.
I entered the office and with shaking hands took the phone and I think I said hello. It was the smallest tiniest hello I have ever said in my entire life that sounded like a cross between a squeak and a whisper.
“Mrs. Wood….this is a ship to shore call. We have your husband on the line. Please be aware that all conversations on this call will be repeated several times to transfer information to the ship. Please begin when you are ready,” boomed a loud voice at me over the line.
I didn’t understand.
A ship to shore call?
I didn’t know what to say…..so I simply said “Hello again?”
And then I heard it…..across the miles of land and ocean……the hello repeated from military personnel to military personnel……over and over and over again.
“Hello again.” “Hello again.” “Hello again.” “Hello again.”
Until it reached my husband half a world away.
And then the message came back from that sailor on a distant shore……”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.”
He was fine?
He was okay?
He was safe?
I screamed and giggled and spun around and the heavens parted and I heard the hallelujah chorus. And then I shouted into the phone with all of the joy and exuberance and adoration I could muster…….”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”
Except I forgot.
You see….the “I love you” didn’t end there.
It wasn’t just between us.
There were five people listening on the call.
And so it ended up sounding a little like this….. ”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.””I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.” ”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”
….”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”
Those veteran military personnel smiled as they repeated it
And each of them said it with all the joy that my “I love you” was intended to convey.
And in the end…..
…..I didn’t care if the world was listening.
Because that sailor with the twinkling brown eyes didn’t miss a word.
And he knew that I adored him.
And would be waiting for the day he returned.
And winging its way back across that ship to shore line with the static and the beeps and the blips via half a dozen scratchy military voices he sent me the sweetest “I love you” across the miles….
….extra butterflies included.