Wednesday, December 18, 2013

To My One & Only

Dave and I.
November 2013.

A few days ago when I blogged on Dave's bday I mentioned that I would tell him all of these things IN PERSON vs. on the blog.

But you know what? I never did. 8(

We did gifts. We made his favorite dinner. We blew out the candles. But I didn't take the time to tell him what I wanted to say.

And I know I should have: it's something I keep coming back to.

But why share it here on the blog?

Well, here's The Why:

1) Because the blog is a journal for me. Yes, a very public one. But that wasn't the case when it began. Literally me, my mom and maybe 3 friends read it.

2) A few years ago I read a book called An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love by Richard Carlson (author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff) and it had a major impact on the way I view my life and the people in it. The overview is that on his 18th wedding anniversary Carlson wrote a letter to his wife telling her what he would do if he only had an hour to live. It became a sort of "love letter" to his wife, sharing with her all the things he loved about her. And at the time it was a hypothetical: what would he tell her if he learned he only had an our to live?

But sadly, Carlson died unexpectedly at age 45--just one year after writing the letter. As a result, the letter to his wife is very precious.

And it makes me feel like I should have the same kind of letter/writing for Dave.

3) Most of the time when I blog, it is about our kids, my thoughts, and my perspective. I don't write that often about Dave specifically. And I think the main reason I don't write about him is because I don't want people to read anything I say about him and feel like I'm exaggerating or making life seem like a bowl of cherries. Because our lives aren't perfect. But truthfully, being married to Dave is the best part of my life.

And so today, I'm writing to and about Dave specifically. 

But please don't feel the need to read this. Truly. Stop right now and go do what you have planned for today. This is really just something I need to "get out" and say (I want it to be on permanent record for Dave ... and our kids, so they know how much he means to me).

PS: The writing teacher in me thinks everyone should do this for their loved one(s).

PPS: I promise to balance-out this post tomorrow with a retelling of "Dave and Dawn's Best Fight Ever." It involves Dave riding Jay's BMX bike 22 miles in a suit. It's pretty awesome.


Dear Dave,

Your birthday was Monday and I'd planned to say so much of this directly to you. But you know how our days go--between work and kids and just normal stuff, it feels like we are packing 72 hours worth of activity into each 24 hour day. So, I never took the time to tell you what I really wanted to say that day.

But here's what I wanted to say ... (And yes, I'm writing it here on the blog. I figure this is more private than our home. LOL.)

I am so grateful to celebrate this birthday with you. 

I feel so fortunate that we've shared this much of our lives together. 

And if for some reason we were to part from Planet E. at this point in our lives, I would want you to know that you have made my life more beautiful and full than I ever hoped it would be. You've shown me unconditional love. You've given me experiences that have shaped me permanently. And I feel like you have shown me that people really can be ONE/united if they learn to love, serve, and respect others COMPLETELY. Because that's how you are with me and our family.

And when I think of us, that's all I see: one unit, one team, you and me. And I love that. I love being connected to you. I love that I have your last name. It makes me proud. (Even though I love my parents and loved having their name, too. But they did give me "Dawn"--so that's my beginning; you're my end.)

Thank you for choosing to spend your life (and more) with me. I'm pretty sure 23 years ago you had no idea what you were "in for."

I know neither one of us ever imagined we'd have six children, live in Utah, spend a majority of our married lives in school, or have adoption as such a major part of our journey together. I also know that there's no other person who I would be able to share these experiences with.

Thank you for being so willing to support me in my sometimes hair-brained ideas--often at the expense of your own goals and sanity:

--"No really, the 6th Survivor audition video is IT. I know it."

--"Yes this house is 4000 square feet, but it's my dream house."
[PS: Selling this house was the best decision. You were right.]

--"The Pet Adoption lady said the cats all came from the same home and couldn't be separated. So I know I said ONE cat, but there are FOUR waiting out in the car."

--"I promise I'll never buy another cat without talking to you first."

--"Shouldn't Christmas and birthdays be HUGE?"

--"We'll have Sunday potluck dinners here, open-house style. Just 20-120 of our friends. It will be fun."

Thank you for helping me practice patience and calm. I know I don't demonstrate it nearly enough, but watching you live your life this way does inspire me. Each time we have adopted and there's been stress, and you have been the calm, you have been the faith, you have been the hope that's kept us grounded.

And thank you for being an incredible dad to our children. If they are even 10% like you, then they will be extraordinary people. I'm not exaggerating. You are so committed to others. You work harder (and smarter) than anyone I know. You have a sense of duty, without being hostile about it when others lack that same commitment/duty. In my mind, you make commitments and keep them. It's just that simple for you. (And yet, really, it's not a simple thing--these commitments you make. Most people wouldn't push themselves this hard, without expectation. But you do. You just DO.)

Thank  you for giving our kids your time, your attention, and your love of God, travel, music, movies, books on "tape," PBS, TedTalks, books, learning, politics, and people. All people.

I know you sacrificed so much of your time/career during the 4 years we spent with Survivor (One year when I was put "on hold"; the next year when I played; the following year when I played a second time; and the 10 months later while S26 aired.).

I know we're both grateful for Survivor and all of the life lessons that our family has gained as a result. (PS: Who else gets to spend two consecutive wedding anniversaries "together" in Samoa and the Philippines?)

But Survivor 26 definitely left me feeling like a failure--a shell of myself.

I'm grateful you were there with me to work through Survivor. I know it was hard on you, too. (And I'm sure you put on 10 lbs yourself just helping me EAT MY WAY through the stress of it all.) Thank you for helping me keep my mind disciplined, for helping me find a way to cope with the experience. You always help me see that just because something is hard doesn't mean it isn't valuable or good for you. I know you believe "The pursuit of easy things makes men/women weak." Thank goodness you live that. You made Survivor 26 feel like one of the most beneficial life experiences for our entire family. You helped me frame it that way. And now I know that to be true: it was one of the most beneficial life experiences for us.

Thank you for making learning such a big part of our lives. I never liked reading--really, ever--until we married and I was around someone who would read 2-3 books at a time. I know I've ribbed you over the years ("He even brought books on our honeymoon."), but your love of learning is probably my favorite thing about you--because it makes you open-minded. And it's made our whole family want to learn (Not because you say, "you should read," but because we see what reading has done for you--and then we want to do it, too.).

And while we're talking about reading, thank you for letting me organize our books by color vs. topic or Dewey Decimal, or whatever system you used to use. I know it makes no "sense," but it makes me happy.

Thank you for being so organized. I think it has something to do with your mathematical mind, but you just thrive on order and systems. I like that we are different in this way. So different. I want you to know that I think your way is better, but I still can't rewire my brain for this level of order. And so ... I shovel snow in our driveway in circles; while you get out a chalk-line and shovel in a grid-pattern. I load the dishwasher like it's a washing machine, just throwing stuff in; you on the other hand, pack it like a game of Tetris. I am lucky if I put my keys in the same place one day to the next; while you have a place for everything. 

And I love that you make sure that systems are in place for our family. Because who doesn't love a good label? (Again, this seems silly when I talk to you about it, but I do love it.)

I love who you are. I love what you represent. I love that you don't complain. And I love that I only see you cry when you feel for someone else (OR when I'm sobbing on the family visit for Survivor).

I love that you love chips and salsa w/ cream cheese on Sundays. I love that you love quesadillas. But mostly, I love that you don't like turky, peanut butter, mushrooms or olives. I don't understand it, but I think it's fun that you are in your 40s and have basically decided "I don't have to try them to like them. In fact, I can dislike them my whole life-long. Period." I also love that you put butter on your pizza crust. And that for you, there's one flavor of ice cream: CHOCOLATE.

I love that even though you are a "dog" person, you let us have cats in our home. Kinda a lot over the years. (I also think it's hilarious that the cats have all liked you more than anyone else in the family. Remember when Lu told you that one of the cats needed a cardboard cutout of you for while you were at work each day?)

And really, thank you for eating at least 2.7 million loaves of my bread over the years. And living with a thin layer of flour on every surface of our home (an in our duct system).

There's just so much I could say to you. There's so much that goes unsaid as the years go by. (And I know, so much that is said that should go unsaid. Ha!)

I want you to know I'm thankful we met and sat next to each other at Jeff's bday party 25 years ago. 

You are my one and only. And I love you.

PS: You were the cutest toddler ever.
Fedora? Don't mind if I do.