With a heart so raw and so open it bleeds for your smile.
We had been engaged less than a week, and I sat at my fiancé's bedside, watching him slowly come out of his anesthesia. In the few days since we called our families and friends, bursting with the excitement of our future, he had become sick. Or we found out he had been sick for a long time, and hadn't known it.
In the few days since I said I would marry him, our parents met over the hospital bed and I sat with them through nine hours of his brain surgery, listening to them grieve at the diagnosis of his terminal brain cancer. I said little.
And the next day, six days after he asked me to be your wife, I held his hand and waited for him to wake up enough to tell him that he was going to die. But I couldn't do it.
This is how I'll love you. With endless hope, and faith, and optimism that no matter what happens, it's always for the best. I'll love you like maybe there's no next year but there is always another tomorrow, that the sun is rising in the morning and you will always be by my side to sleep through it, because it's just another sunrise.
This is how I will stay by you, hold you up, push you forward. This is how I will show you how much you mean to me. I'll be here, holding your hand and having your back, every second of your life. Of our lives. Of our life together.
I didn't tell him he was supposed to die. His doctor and I, we told him he had brain cancer. We told him it was aggressive, very aggressive, but left out the part about having 18 months or less to live.
And he did live.
Every morning I woke up to his sweet smile, kissing me goodbye as he left for work, and I told him silently, This is how I'll love you forever. I will hold you up through my grief and keep you standing. I will laugh with you and cry with you and shoulder the burdens you cannot bear. I will see you as the most precious thing in my life, the most wonderful thing I will ever have, and I will cherish you.
Nine months later, we stood in front of our friends and families and made our marriage vows. But while I recited the words we'd written together, grinning and crying on a windy rooftop, another vow echoed in my head.
This is how I'll love you forever. With a joy so big it couldn't fit inside a chapel. I'll love you with a heart so raw and so open it bleeds for your smile. I'll love you like every day is the most important day, but never the last.
I'll love you like tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives. I'll love you like my love is the only thing keeping either of us alive. I'll love you like without our love, the world would end.
He learned, eventually, that he was supposed to die.
But on our eighth wedding anniversary, surrounded by our three children, on the cusp of buying a house and moving to the suburbs like any other old married couple, he was still alive.
He is still alive. And this is how I love him.