Subtle Cues

I’ve had a long week. 6 and 7 AM starts paired with 12 and 1AM stops, angry phone calls, meetings with company management, and scattered mealtimes have left me completely drained. My late return flight was interrupted by two college kids who talked at one another for three hours straight about how awesome they were, comparing shoe sizes and the number of sports they play. (Surprise! Only one of them was a guy.)

My husband picked me up at the airport, cussing because my flight landed 20 minutes early and he wasn’t standing at the bottom of the escalator when I arrived. He smelled amazing and he looked great. He took me to a nearby cafe at midnight because he knew I’d be starving after my flight. He gently asked me if we needed to move to another table when a group of squawking teenage girls took up residence at the table next to ours and he saw me gritting my teeth and massaging my temples every time they shrieked.

When we arrived home I was greeted by Gromit the invalid, who gave me dog kisses all over my face and neck and wagged his tail so hard that he hit himself repeatedly with it. B stood there quietly while Gromit said hello, repeating the words, “He missed his mama this week. He kept looking for you.”

As I trudged to the shower, leaving a path of luggage and discarded clothing in my wake, B asked me if I’d noticed that the house was clean. Realizing I’d been so exhausted that this hadn’t even registered (which is unheard of for me) I hugged him and told him sincerely how sorry I was for overlooking it. I promised that in the morning when I’d had more sleep I would not take it for granted, then I turned away to begin cleaning all traces of travel, of hotel living, and of the week’s work from my hair and skin.

I stepped into the shower and stood under the hot water, and for a few minutes I was alone in silence. Then I heard B one more time, this time poking his head into the bathroom to quietly inform me that he’d also gone grocery shopping while I was away.

The man went grocery shopping.

On his own.

Without a list from me.

Without asking me what he should buy.

Without complaining about it.

And I hadn’t even taken the time to notice.

I grasp the importance of this gift he has given me. This is in addition to the fact that he had a full week of work plus schoolwork plus taking care of invalid Gromit and hauling him to and from therapy sessions. He went grocery shopping in a crowded grocery store which always leaves him exhausted and suffering from sensory overload. He took a list with him. He told me he took care of everything for me just so that I could relax and not have to think about any of those things, responsibilities we would have otherwise shared, during the weekend.

All his texts today said he was looking forward to my homecoming, which was evident because of the things he did to prepare for me after I’d only been away for a few days. But the biggest compliment my husband gave me this evening, the thing that made me feel the most wanted, wasn’t even intentional. When he lingered in the bathroom to recount a funny story for me while I was in the shower, he transitioned with, “I wish you could have been there with me.” I bet he didn’t even notice when he said it, but it speaks volumes.

After seven years, my husband still wants me with him to celebrate triumphs, to witness funny events, and to experience life with him. He always does things to show me how much he appreciates me, and from the beginning he has excelled at openly communicating his affection. But it’s the subtle cues, the things he doesn’t realize he’s doing, that truly melt my heart and make me wonder what I ever did to deserve something so wonderful.

I love you, B. You’re my very favorite, and you don’t even have to do the dishes or the grocery shopping for me to think that. So please don’t change anything. And by anything, I also mean the fact that you clean the house and go grocery shopping to show me how much you love me while I’m away on business trips. HAHAHA! MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH!

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