You know that feeling you get when you leave a place and realize you’ve forgotten something but you can’t quite figure out what it was? It’s so frustrating to know that there’s something missing but not knowing what it is. Was it important? Are you going to need it before you can go back for it? Will it still be there when you finally return? Three years ago there was about a week where I felt like that most days - leaving work only to feel like I had forgotten something, day after day. It started to bother me that I couldn’t go home at peace but then I finally realized what it was. I hadn’t actually forgotten anything - I had just started to miss something. Someone. Every time I left work and he was still there I had that overwhelming sense of missing and it took me awhile to figure it out - that I was just missing him and wanting to go back to be around him.

The feeling surprised me because I hadn’t expected to feel so strongly so quickly. It was quick. Everything was quick - or, actually, I guess it was just easy. Natural. Comfortable. He just was and I just was and we just were and it was...nice.

No, it was good.

No, it was great.

No, it was so much more than that.

I can’t really explain to you what it was - I just felt it and I still feel it and I’ll never be able to do it justice with words. We just are.

When we began I didn’t know how to be. I was trying to transition from the love I thought I knew before into the love that was in front of me and it wasn’t easy. Actually, it was really hard. There were days I wasn’t sure if I’d ever figure it out. It was hard to let go of the past and even harder to let go of the parts of me that I never considered changing but I knew needed to. I spent a lot of days not knowing what to say or do or think or feel and somehow, it was all okay. He was okay and I was okay and we were okay. No...we were so much more than that.

I vividly remember the day everything changed between us and became something more. I remember walking into work and hearing him say something so simple but with such a quiet, vulnerable, explosive energy. I knew everything would be different from that moment on. Isn’t it funny how something as simple as “good morning,” can completely change your life? It did. It completely changed my life.

I remember the first time we said “I love you.” I remember sitting on the couch and feeling the slightly nervous energy and feeling the joy bursting through. He said, “I know this is soon but I know that I love you and I would do anything for you.” I smiled back and said, “I love you too.” The love we had then was different than the love we have now - how could it not be? This love, while relatively young, is more mature and tested and true and pure. This love is something I wouldn’t trade for anything but I hope I never forget what that first love felt like. I hope I never forget that nervous energy and bursting joy. I hope I never forget the way he looked that day and the way I felt. I hope I never forget.

The last three years have been filled with so much. We have spent our days together laughing, crying, arguing, brainstorming business ideas, daydreaming about moving to a new state, planning trips, talking about the future, remembering and sharing our histories, strengthening friendships, forming new friendships, taking trips, going to sporting events, wandering the aisles of Target, buying a car, driving that car across the country, failing at DIY furniture projects, cooking, cleaning, standing on sandy beaches, climbing through rocky mountains, flying over several states, listening to music, seeing our favorite bands perform live, hanging out with nieces and nephews, mourning the loss of people we love, mourning the loss of pets we love, celebrating the lives of those still with us, cuddling the pets of our friends, bringing each other back down to earth, encouraging each other to dream bigger, and just being. Being who we’ve always been and who we’ve helped each other become. Being happy and sad and angry and confused and hurt and loved and overjoyed and content. Being comfortable and safe and trusted and wanted and cared for.

This is a love unlike any I’ve ever known - and it’s supposed to be. It’s a love that is constant and unchanging. It’s a love that doesn’t leave us wondering if the other person is still in it. It doesn’t use hurtful words on purpose. It doesn’t do or say irrational things. It doesn’t let jealousy take over. It says “I’m sorry” and “I’ll try to be better” often. It shows up. It forgives and makes room for mistakes.

There is no one I would rather be in this love with. No one I would rather spend every day with. Here we are three years into this love and one year away from standing in front of those closest to us and vowing to be in this love for the rest of our lives. I love you, Matthew Joseph Brown and I can’t wait for all that is to come.

*I want to add something for anyone who read this and maybe felt the pain of jealousy or longing. That feeling that I have so often felt myself. The pain that comes when you’re happy for the other person but you’re hurting because you don’t have what they are sharing with the world. I know that there’s really nothing I can say to lessen your hurt and I’m honestly not trying to.. I just want you to know that you are not alone. Even in this joy I still remember exactly how I felt each and every time someone I knew announced an engagement. It feels…low and lonely. All of that pain has not been erased from my mind and I don’t want it to be - that pain makes this joy so much sweeter. Do you want to punch me right now? I understand. But someday you will too. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. If you need to take yourself on a date - do it. Go on that trip. Buy the dress. Paint your nails. Go for a run. Get some flowers. Do whatever it is you need to do for yourself and remember that even though you might be hurting right now - the hurt doesn’t define you. It’s not all you are. It is your truth right now but right now isn’t forever. It isn’t forever. Pain can destroy you or it can make you stronger. You get to choose. Cry if you need to, but don’t drown in your tears.