I could say that a winter breeze had sent snow flurries dancing against our windowpane as we cuddled in front of a glowing fire, sipping spiced cider, alternately nuzzling each other and cooing about the depth of our love.
I could say that - but it would be a lie.
The early November storms had melted, leaving an endless landscape of gray trees and mire green earth. It fit our moods. My husband and I vacillated between extreme joy over the life of our two-months-old son and extreme distress over our lack of sleep or of time for each other. Our conversation of the past two weeks especially sounded less like the cooing of lovebirds and more like the barking of pitbulls.
I had returned to work after only six weeks' leave and on the tail end of postpartum blahs. I felt fat and incompetent. My husband felt guilty and alienated. The few words in passing each morning and the brief hug and peck in the evening were, at best, meager tokens of the attention we desperately needed to give each other.
After one particularly exhausting day, I lay next to our precious infant, dreamily following the down of his cheeks and the satin of his neck and arm to his feathery fingers, when I . . . well, I fell asleep. I slept the dreamless sleep of the fatigued, while my dear husband waited, hopeful that I would rouse to finish the conversation we'd begun two days earlier. I felt his presence, vaguely, in the doorway of our room, but was drawn gently back into my drowsing stupor.
I awoke several hours later to the whimpering hunger of our baby and saw my husband sleeping soundly within an arm's reach. After our son had settled back into blissful contentment, I rose to get a drink of water. I stumbled into the hall and flipped the light switch. There, I found the first note, hanging from the frame of our family montage: "I love you . . . because we are a family."
My breath caught for a moment, then I ventured farther along the hallway, and . . . another note: "I love you because you are kind."
For the next half hour, I wandered through our home, collecting the precious bits of warmth and affection. On the bathroom mirror: "I love you because you are beautiful." On my satchel of essays: "I love you because you are a teacher." On the refrigerator: "I love you because you are yummy." On the TV, on the bookcase, in the cupboards, on the front door: "I love you because you are funny . . . you are smart . . . you are creative. you make me feel as if I can do anything . . . you are the mother of our son." Finally, on our bedroom door: " I love you because you said yes."
It was intoxicating, soothing - an embrace to carry me through the sleepless nights and to draw me back into the joy of my every day. I slipped back into our bed and curled myself around my beautiful husband.