This weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday. Every birthday, every holiday, I am reminded of a large, brown envelope I keep in my closet. Tucked between my childhood Raggedy Ann and Felix the Cat, it contains passion in the shapes of hearts, stars and VW logos, and love in the mediums of colored pencils, fine tipped markers, pieces of tin and stencils.
The envelope contains every handmade card my husband created for me while we were dating. From birthdays to Halloween to Christmas, plus a card to welcome me home after a week in Chicago. All created with a sketchbook in lap and the high probability of a cold beer at hand. Most made me laugh, a few made me cry, all made me smile.
There is no gift in this world like a gift made with the hands that hold your hands, pull you close, hold you up, and protect you. My husband’s hands are calloused with years of hard work, but his artwork is gentle and precise, the cards soft with care.
And while his business now takes up any extra time he used to rely to create these incredible keepsakes, I have also kept every store-bought card he has given to me, each familiar with his thin, sharp penmanship. Because while the cards are made by Hallmark or American Greetings, each contains four to five lines of unconditional affection and friendship.
So, on those days he forgets to take out the trash or fails to ask about an important work day, I walk in to my closet and gaze upon that envelope. I don’t need to look inside or view its contents, I’ve memorized each one. That envelope is filled with the true documents of our marriage and life.