Love from First Grade and Prison

As I was grading papers this afternoon, I found an artfully decorated love note on the back of an assignment.

“Dear Ava,

I really really like you. You have pretty eyes. You have some hair and a nice family. I have a friend and her name is Ava.

Love, Rogan”

My heart melted. What a beautiful expression of love. Years ago, in a whole other life, I worked as a paralegal in a law office. As I was clearing out some old files, I found a collection of also artfully decorated love letters. From prison.

“Dear Tammy,

I love you. I am still in prison. Thanks to you, you f@&#ing bitch. I need $20 for cigarettes. Come see me. And bring me $20. For cigarettes.

Love, Wayne”

My heart melted. What a beautiful expression of love. Of cigarettes.

All this thinking about love notes made me yearn for one from my husband. Gregg is a man of very few words, especially written ones. I would be happy with, “Have a nice day. Love, Gregg.” As a matter of fact, I would be overflowing with love and excitement – giddy with desire, even – to read such a passionate nice day wishing.

According to author Gary D. Chapman in his book ,The Five Love Languages, my love language is “Words of Affirmation”. I feel loved the most when it is expressed from another in spoken or written words. Clearly, I am married to the wrong guy for that job. I once asked Gregg to read Chapman’s book, but if there is one thing he hates more than writing and speaking words of affirmation, it’s reading about them.

I will take my affirmation any way I can get it from The Quiet One. It is there, but his love language is like a rare Biblical scroll…sacred but difficult to translate. He sections half a grapefruit for me each and every morning. This means, “I want you to be healthy and live a long life with me.” He helps with the dinner dishes every night. This means, “I appreciate that you work all day and I will share the responsibilities to lighten the load.” He holds my hand while walking through a crowded parking lot. This means, “I want the world to know you are mine.” Or possibly, “You are about to be hit by a Dodge.” Either way.

I do have one note from him, one that I will cherish always. Before he said his vows to me on our wedding night, he wrote some notes on a slip of paper to help him remember them. I have that slip of paper. And when I need to be reminded how he feels about me, I take it out and read it. It is one of my most prized possessions.

Words that are well chosen and sincere, even if they are rare, are a precious gift. I think I will give Ava’s love note to her mother, to save for Ava when she is 17 and feels like the least beautiful girl in the world. It may just be the heartfelt words of a 6 year old boy that remind her otherwise.

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86 thoughts on “Love from First Grade and Prison

  1. My husband and I write notes via the wipey board, foggy mirror, mustard within sandwich, meal plates, texts, snowy windows, mowed ❀ in lawn, and in the sand. We both can't get enough!
    Congrats on getting pressed!!

  2. I definitely love written expressions of love as well! Maybe it’s about the permanence of it all, that, when you’re having a terrible day, you can pull out a letter and be reminded that you are loved. Thanks for the article!

    Valentine
    Flux: Encountering Adulthood
    http://www.fluxforum.com

    1. This is such a beautiful article, I could relate to that. My A is like Gregg in so many ways and I wrote something very close! I will publish it soon. I hope you can relate to it too!

  3. Love this! I don’t get love notes so I have saved an email since 2004. It is sitting in the bottom of my inbox. I look at when I need a smile. It’s from my husband and the subject line says, “Good morning and I love you”.

  4. “My heart melted. What a beautiful expression of love. Of cigarettes.”
    This made me laugh out loud. Then it made me want to go re-read love letters from my husband. Kudos.

  5. Love this! Sometimes I wish my fiance was more outspoken with his affection but lately, I’ve come to appreciate the little things he does. We all express our emotions differently and just because he doesn’t express his love for me in ways that I would express mine for him, that doesn’t mean that he loves me any less. I really appreciate this post!

  6. I’ve read that book, “The Five Love Languages.” Mine is, “quality time.” Thanks for the well weaved words, its always good to relate to someone you barely know.

  7. You write wonderfully. As a representative of “man” kind, I should say that I have written many a love note for my beautiful wife she has never read, notes not written on paper and written even more romantically than skywriting by plane, but kinetically, with my body and hers— but she even opened the envelope of her garb. Perhaps a little less talk and a little more action πŸ˜‰

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