To my love,
It's your birthday! I just looked it up and it was a Saturday when you were born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The stories of your childhood, unfortunately, are not happy memories. You lived a life of physical and emotional abuse. You and your siblings were raised in South Florida surrounded by drugs, drug addicts, and drug dealers. The life you lived did not give you a fair chance at life but when you reminisce about the past you are not angry. In fact, you are relieved. Relieved at the fact that you survived. Survive. Not in the sense that you lived through it, but in the sense that you learned from it.
When I first met you, there was no way in the world I could have guessed you lived a rough childhood. That you were physically abused so badly you almost lost your life on numerous occasions. No. When we met, I saw a genuine "wear-my-heart-on-sleeve" type of person; a no-nonsense type of guy. You weren't trying to be someone else. You were just you. A gentleman. And to me, you were a breath of fresh air.
As we got to know each other better, you eventually shared your past. It broke my heart the first time you shared one of your worst memories. The times when you had to dig through trash for food. I couldn't and can't imagine what you've been through and the worst part is, you did not deserve any of it.
You love with your whole heart. A heart that is bruised from serious harm done to you as a child but, I can tell you, it sure works better than most. You don't take anything for granted, you always put your family first and you cherish every moment as if it were the last.
In the beginning, you weren't given a fair chance at life but the true testament here is that you gave yourself that chance. You gave yourself the opportunity to be selfless when you signed up to fight for our country as a Marine. You opened your heart to love when it presented itself. You have worked hard and are still working very hard to climb up the figurative career ladder. To someone else reading this, it might sound like all of these are easy feats but the truth is that you endured so many let downs and challenges that I'm sure at some point it was probably easier to give up but somehow you didn't. You took the risks. Because that's who you are: A fighter.
I'd never met anyone like you who has been through so much heartache but is hopeful and strives to live a life with virtue and kindness. You might not take anyone's nonsense but you are honest and loyal as can be.
If there was ever a miracle that I have witnessed in my life, it would be you. You were surrounded by drugs, but have never done any of it. You were surrounded by crime, but have never been involved or arrested. You were a hungry child but you make the best ziti, seafood linguine, and you grill a mean steak. You weren't taught to love, but you do. You love so hard that when we were still new it almost scared me away because I didn't do anything to deserve to be loved not only this much, but to top it off, to be loved by you. Now that we are a family, you make sure that our baby girl knows she is loved too. No matter how long of a day you've had plus with all the physical pain you are experiencing, you are still on the floor playing race cars with her or building legos and molding play-doh. And even though it isn't effortless for you, you still walk with us to the park to fly a kite and run around chasing after our little girl pretending to be a mummy.
When we put her down for the night, she kisses you good night and tells you that she loves you. She knows that she is loved because of all the little things you do with us. I love the time you put into our family and I cherish the moments when it's just the two of us too. We lay in our bed in the darkness and talk about funny things in life like the things that our little Ella does that are just so funny we don't know where it comes from. Some of our conversations end up in pillow fights and tickles that we laugh so hard we are crying. I love these moments because even when it is dark and I cannot see your face I can still picture your smile.
I want you to know your efforts are not taken for granted. And it might be selfish of me to say, but I'm glad you were born. Even though you've lead a hard life, the world would not be the same without you in it. I know for sure my world wouldn't be the same. I don't know what I did to be loved by you but it would break me if I ever lost you.
Yesterday I received an e-mail where they quoted author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek who said, "You can endure every how with the right why." I always have wondered how you have built your life to this? A life away from all the drugs and violence... away from all the heartache and let downs... away from all the insecurities and hunger. How did you endure all that in your life? You have not only survived but thrived all because you had the right "why" - love. Even though you never felt love and secure as a child, the way you love on people is unsurpassed. It truly is a miracle the person that you are. You deserve much more than you give and I hope I make you feel loved today and everyday for the rest of our lives.
I love you my love and the happiest of birthdays to you. Here's to many more!
Photos taken by the awesome Camila Margotta of Camila Margotta Photography.