The Gift of Love

November 9, 2014
Rome, Italy

Matera, Italy

As I sit here trying to figure out what to write you for your 35th birthday, I am truly at a loss for words. If I was as creative or intelligent as you, I would whip out a poem or a racy birthday card like you did for my 41st birthday. I am neither of these things so I thought I would stick to the basics.

Recovery has taught me many things, but one of the greatest lessons I have learned is how to be self-honest. As I reread what I wrote below, I became quite humbled as it reminded me of how our journey has only just begun.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia


While I have always pounded my chest and told you that I am the one that has shown you how to ‘love,’ that could not be further from the truth. The reality is that I am an insecure, 41 year old man who emotionally, at times, can act like he is 13. My parents were and still are wonderful role models about how to love and sacrifice everything for their family and for each other. Words can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me, but you are the one that has had the greatest impact on my life as you have touched me in ways that you will never know or might not understand.

Love is not boastful, proud, nor unkind. Unfortunately, I can be all of these things at times.

Love is unconditional, strong and unwavering and the reality is that I am much more conditional that you ever will be.

Love and time are the two greatest gifts any parent can give to their children and you give both freely and generously.

It was your love in early 2007 that helped get me sober and it is your constant love and support that has helped me to realize that I had to learn to ‘love’ myself so I would stop killing myself with substances, being a work-aholic, a perfectionist, and much more. For years I filled myself with things that were unhealthy and I bought into the idea that success meant happiness. After meeting you, I learned that success and happiness have nothing in common.

Today, I am learning how to just BE. I can just take a walk without my mind racing (most of the time). I can look at a waterfall or sit through an entire dinner without wondering why I did not sell a certain stock (most of the time). I can shut my eyes during the ‘call to prayer’ and reflect on God’s grace and all of my blessings (most of the time).

Recovery has helped me to gain peace and serenity, but watching you each and everyday has been a gift beyond compare. You can get lost in almost anything. In the past month you have planted a vegetable garden in your head; you have learned how to cook authentic dishes in your new Peka; you have taught yourself how to make honey, cheese and a whole slew of delicious things; you have written a novel; you have traveled in your head to places I could not possibly fathom; you have opened a restaurant and a B&B; you have learned how to weave beautiful materials and have started an on-line business to help those who are lesser fortunate; you have taught yourself how to cook hundreds of dishes and you have hatched a thousand other grand ideas.

You live. You dream. You escape. You fly. You wander. You have more creative thoughts in a day than I will in a lifetime.

Kotor, Montenegro

For the bulk of our eight years together I have asked you to ‘show me that you love me.’ I have asked you to ‘say something nice’ thousands of times and I have always asked you to do more of the things that do not come easy for you.

I sit in awe of you and that is why I always need constant affirmation. You are everything I am not and much, much more.

While our marriage has had its shares of ups and downs, I fall more in love with you each and everyday. I was driving today and I found myself looking over at you and feeling a sense of unbelievable gratitude. While I told you I was thankful for your WCA¹, as I like to call it, I was really thinking that we are amazingly blessed for the nomadic life that we are able to share together. You are everything love is supposed to be and more. You are everything to me and more. You are everything I am not and more. You are LOVE and my greatest blessing. Pure and simple.

Words are just words. You are a woman of few words, but there has never been a day since we have been together that I did not know that you loved me and us with all of your heart. Thank you for that gift. Besides the gift of sobriety, it is what i cherish most in my life.

I asked Ollie and Kendley what they loved about Mommy two years ago and I decided to ask them the same question again this year. I also asked them what LOVE means to them? Here are their answers below:

More Plitvice


“Love means to love someone else. It means to care for somebody and to be compassionate. Love means kindness and being nice to each other. You should not throw penguins at people and you should listen (which I don’t do very much).”
I love Mommy because she is beautiful.
I love Mommy because of everything.
I love Mommy because she is nice.
I love Mommy because she reads to me.
I love Mommy because she snuggles me.
I love Mommy because she plays with me.
I love Mommy because she teaches me about science.
I love Mommy because she is the best Mommy in the world.
I love Mommy more than anything.


“Love means you give lots of hugs and kisses. You snuggle them and share candy with them. You don’t throw tantrums and love makes my heart fill with joy. Love makes me smile.”
I love Mommy because I like to play with her.
I love Mommy because I love her too much.
I love Mommy because I love her lots and lots.
I love Mommy because she washes blankie.
I love Mommy because she is a good Mommy.
I love Mommy because she brushes my hair.
I love Mommy because she let’s me dress up like a butterfly fairy.
I love Mommy because she is my house.
I love Mommy because she is my Mommy.
The edge of Durmitor, Montenegro
Just as fear besets fear and hate besets hate, the gift of love is being handed down to our children, and thus love besets love . Our travels, pure and simply, are for us and a true manifestation of this very idea. Thank you for setting me free and for introducing me to a world that I never would have had the courage to see and experience. Thank you for being able to calm my mind and nerves with just a touch of your hand as we sleep next to each other every night.
Thank you for being a beacon of hope in a world that too often values the idea of ‘self’ and not the tenants of ‘true love.’ 
I am proud to be your husband and I will forever be thankful that you saved my life and gave me the gift that I could never give myself for so many years: LOVE!!!!!!!
¹”World-class ass”