We were sitting at the dinner table when I first noticed the fine lines around his eyes.
I noticed how they splayed from the outer corner, up to his eyebrows and down to the upper-most part of his cheeks.
I felt the tears spring to my own eyes.
I counted them: one, two, three, four, five (like my daughter counting on her fingers)—and I felt lucky to have been a small part of those lines.
I’ve been there through our 14-year-old-concert-in-Detroit days—those moments in our high-school lives when seeing our favorite indie bands was heart-crashingly important and special.
I’d been there through saw-him-move-across-the-country hours—those days that led up to his move to New Mexico for his first Master’s degree, when every day felt soft around the edges and painful-slash-crisply beautiful because he was leaving me for several months until I joined him.
We’ve been together through more life moments than I can count (one, two, three, four, five…) and those lines—in that one perfect instant at the dinner table—those lines said so much.
They said, “I love you,” “I hate you,” “I need you,” “I want you,” “you are me,” and so many others.
And these tiny, little creases in our softest of skin—that we can some how, perversely, see as imperfections—made me smile as the salty tears pricked the backs of my eyes.
I smiled with the knowledge that our current days, of our marriage becoming secondary to our children, and our exercise time never feeling quite like enough, and our lives moving so fast that these lines could be perceived as something to mourn rather than celebrate—I smiled, knowing that all of these life-pieces are temporary, and I teared up because this is both beautiful and devastating.
And I look at the creases of his eyes, as he tilts his head back and roars with laughter at something I’ve said, and I hope in the deepest crook of my heart that there are many more lines to come.
Photos: Author’s own; Flickr/Philip Bitnar.