I Feel Loved

The last few weeks have been very busy and I am tired! There’s much to share with you, and I will, but today I’m relaxing. Today I’m just enjoying simplicity. Today I’m slowing down and paying attention to the mundane pleasures of my life, things that often get overlooked. Today I’m dwelling on love.

Love is eating dinner with the children, then taking a nap afterward because my husband and I are catching up on sleep after a late night out and an early morning at church. Love is being perfectly content as I rest beside him, lulled by the cadence of his soft snore. Love is being happy for him, knowing that he gets up for work at 4:30am and he’s finally catching up on some sleep. Love is the action of this moment – each moment – added to previous moments of action like pearls on a string, creating beauty in simplicity. Love is what we do, created by the action of right now.

Eighteen years ago I married the man who showed me love by his actions. I didn’t understand it the way I do now. At the time, I couldn’t assign words to my feelings but I trusted my feelings enough to say yes to his proposal. I didn’t grow up in a household with a married couple. My mom was a one-woman show but she was blessed with plenty of support from family and friends. I observed marriage through many of them – my Godparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors, and eventually my dad and step-mom. I observed them all, desiring to one day emulate them. I’ve learned from them, good lessons and bad, and they’ve helped me to recognize love for what it truly is, a series of consistent actions.

Love is comfort. I’m not sleepy anymore but I’m comfortable here. I could get up and type on my laptop but I’d rather be beside my sleeping husband who just rolled over and placed his hand on my shoulder. I’m typing in a Google doc on my phone, closing my eyes to relax when I feel like it.

Love is peace. My children are playing games, doing homework and entertaining each other. My dogs are roaming the yard. My chickens are resting in their coop. My parents and siblings are well. We’re safe and we have what we need – mostly because my husband gets up early every morning to take care of us. We have concerns, but no worries.

Love is support. We encourage each other to grow, to work toward our goals, and to rest when needed. We laugh often and we probably rib too much for some people’s taste. We crack jokes about ourselves, each other, the children or anyone else all the time. We pray with each other and for each other, ever mindful of God’s Word. We lean on each other, always providing a counterweight for the other.

Maybe this is too much information but my breath is strong in the morning and my husband told me so. It was years ago and sometimes I still laugh about it because I know it’s true. I hated getting up early but for a while I tried to get up and brush my teeth before he woke up. Sometimes I avoided directly talking to him first thing in the morning. He noticed and asked what was wrong, then he laughed when I told him. He said he didn’t really care about my “tart” breath because nobody has fresh breath as soon as they wake up. While somewhat embarrassed, I felt loved.

Seventeen years ago one of my favorite cousins died. She was one of my “big” cousins – about ten years older than me. When I was young she used to cornrow my hair and sometimes she babysat me. She was a beautiful woman. Everyone noticed her. She had a warm smile, a sweet, playful demeanor, and swaying hugs that made you feel cherished, making her inner beauty even more remarkable than her appearance. When she died she was pregnant with her second child while I was pregnant with my first. I cried pitifully, mourning her loss and the fact my child would never get one of her swaying hugs. My husband held me, offering water, tissues, a blanket and anything he could think of to help me stop crying. Nothing helped but I appreciated his effort. Almost two years ago one of my favorite uncles died. He was an exemplary man who was loved by everyone who knew him. I cried off and on at random times for weeks, especially because I couldn’t attend his funeral. My husband, understanding me better, gave me as much time and space as I needed to cry or to just sit with my thoughts. While grieving I felt loved.

The birth of our second child was traumatic, to say the least. While my obstetrician was everything I could have asked for, she, like most obstetricians, wasn’t present until it was time to deliver. Unfortunately most of the nurses, except for two who actually listened to me, were at best, kindly condescending.

“Oh yes Miss Prosper, I know what you said but we’re going to go ahead and do this because we know what’s best for you and the baby.”

A few nurses were outright rude, dismissive, and disrespectful.

“Look, I’m an R.N. with 15 years of experience so I know more about this than you do and you have to do what we’re telling you to do.”

“Miss Prosper, you see that “the father” is pretty aggressive, right? Does he often make you feel unsafe or threatened the way he is now? (Stated in a hushed tone when he went to get more coffee.)

After more than 30 hours of labor I was exhausted. I kept reminding them that “the father” is my husband, he’s only repeating what I already told them and I only felt unsafe when he left the room. My doula, who provided superb support while firmly, and respectfully reminding the swarming nurses that I wanted to be left alone, was also worn out. My husband, fueled by concern, coffee, and adrenaline, seemed to never get tired. He spoke for me when I couldn’t pull a sentence together. Each time they sent a new nurse to insist on a procedure that they said was “necessary for the best delivery,” he asked if expediting labor was really best for me or for the hospital. He remembered facts and data points and statistics. He recalled case studies and details about our first child’s birth, shooting down every assertion they made like an attorney cross examining a hostile witness. The nurses were not happy. They even threatened to call security! An intelligent, articulate, six and a half foot black man who fervently advocated for the rights of his laboring wife, refusing to back down no matter how many nurse managers and medical students showed up, was perceived as a threat. During 41 hours of labor I felt loved.

We’ve traveled, attended exclusive events, eaten at fancy restaurants and done all kinds of things that some people believe are indicators of living well. Due to hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Isaac we’ve had makeshift anniversary celebrations in the midst of evacuating or sheltering in place. We had a stay-cation in a beautiful hotel suite for our tenth anniversary and ate at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for our fifteenth. We did none of that today.

This morning we awoke to the smell of food and discovered our oldest child was almost finished preparing breakfast. We ate, got dressed and went to our new church where we received the right hand of fellowship. We left church and bought groceries, came home and ate lunch, then I took a nap. My husband (his name is Thaddaeus) cooked dinner, woke me up, we ate, dinner and I returned to my nap, resting but not sleeping. He joined me and fell asleep quickly. Our children expected us to go out for dinner, or at least dessert. Instead we did what we felt like doing – nothing. I wouldn’t have enjoyed anything else any more than this. He buys flowers for the house because I enjoy nature, but I’m fine without them. We go out and do things because we enjoy doing things, but I’m fine without them. He buys jewelry and shoes and purses but I have enough. This evening, while lounging in sweatpants in our home, doing nothing, I feel loved.

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