A Lifetime

Today is my husband’s 40th birthday. As far as birthdays go, today will be pretty laid back. We’re having a huge party Friday night, so there’s not much planned for today. Also, he’s not particularly freaking out about the fact that he’s 40. He’s proud of the things he’s given his life to up to this point and has few regrets for the way he’s lived these 40 years. On the contrary, he’s expectant for the next 40.

I met my husband when I was 8 years old, really a lifetime ago. We were friends and nothing more for years, but we have tons of shared life experiences. We have lived a lifetime together, and with that shared life comes a lot of perspective and grace. I am not the same person he married, much less the same person I was when he met me at eight years old. Nor is he the same. He’s given me room to grow and change, sometimes hesitantly and sometimes prodding me. And we’ve learned the hard way that the way we feel about each other in one particular moment is not the way it always will be, for better or for worse.

Forty years sounds like such a milestone, almost like an arrival. I kept trying to think of something significant enough to celebrate forty years of my husband’s life. But for the most part, everything he wants, we have. Anything else would just be a token. In the end, I remembered that forty isn’t an arrival at all, but only one point along the journey. Who we are in one particular moment is not who we always will be, for better or for worse, and so I decided to write my husband a poem to try to put my gift into words. Happy Birthday, Demps.

Our Lifetime

I’ve known you a lifetime, long

enough to grow thanks for what I long ago

would have changed in you, long enough

to leave a past behind us. I’m surprised still

to think of you at nine, and me at eight,

to think those simple two would make a life

together, would live love together.

It’s not so simple now, at times, the effort

it takes to make a life, and yes, let’s just be honest,

the effort it takes to love in this lifetime.

We are hard to love, often,

slow to forgive, and worse, slow

to feel forgiven. Love seems like an apparition

there, hazy, and some do not believe,

some cannot see signs –

some stop searching —

but love has seeped into my being, like a mist,

like a wind that whispers in this moment,

and causes rain in Africa next week.

It is faith, measured enough — from

places I cannot see—and yet,

I choose it. The eight-year old me does not understand,

and when I am eighty, I will marvel at the ways

I did not know love now.

I’ve loved you a lifetime, long

enough to know

I will love you more.

–Kristy Dempsey (all rights reserved)


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29 thoughts on “A Lifetime

  1. Lovely poem, Kristy, and the perfect gift for your husband.

    I think the relationships we continually work on, that allow us to evolve into who we were meant to be, are the very best kind of all.

    1. Thank you. We rarely buy gifts for each other anyway. Usually by the time the birthday comes around, whatever it was we wanted was so obvious that we’ve already gotten it. So a poem that really shares my heart was one of the best things I could give.

    1. Yeah, sometimes you’re writing and you don’t even know where these things come from but you’re like, “Yes. That’s it. That’s true.” And doesn’t it take you outside of yourself for a minute when that happens? Ahh, it feels good and right.

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