As always, all of my love to Cute Girl. Early in the year, Cute Girl had a table at a couple of different craft fairs. While she generally has several projects going at once, with lots of completed crafts neatly tucked away, holiday fairs bring out the animal in her. We would stay up til 2, 3, and 4 in the morning getting everything ready. She would do the artsy things, and I would do what any mouth-breathing-knuckledragger could do. Which generally meant cleaning up and doing repetitive tasks she felt comfortable letting me do. But we did it, and drew even closer in the meantime. At four in the morning, when you are both punch drunk, you learn things about each other.
During all of this time, we managed to get a Christmas tree. Not just any Christmas tree, but the most awesome story ever.
We loaded up the truck with a saw, firewood, snow gear, and mulled apple cider and headed to the National Forest Office. A quick stop to grab a permit, and we were off. Our target? A noble fir. Which meant we were going above the snowline. We only had to go about five miles up a forest service road to find a likely spot.
We started slogging through the snow on a steep incline, because everyone knows the best trees grow in the most rugged and trecherous terrain. At times we were waist deep in snow and she was right there with me. We were in perfect agreement when we found the one. A little Paul Bunyan work, a sweaty trip trying to get it back down to the truck, and the best part happened.
We trimmed the tree back so it would fit in the truck, attached the permit, and I built a fire. Cute Girl poured us each a cup of cider. As I stood there and watched the fire melt the snow with my arms around her, I knew she had melted my heart. We were complete. That day on the mountain may have been the best day of my life. I knew what it was like to be so in harmony with someone that you just knew it was right.
It took us a couple of days to decorate the tree, and it turned out amazing. It was twelve feet, decorated with clear big lights, and a mixture of new ornaments and many she had collected from Germany. A swag on the stairs, some boughs on the hearth, and the house became all that was good with Christmas.
And it didn't end there. We had decided that each year we would exchange an ornament with each other. I picked out a ceramic angel that was off-white with "Believe" in gold. I had picked out the angel because it was my mother's favorite icon and I wanted her to be a part of my first Christmas with the love of my life. Her ornament to me was handmade, and gives me goosebumps as I write this. It was a clear ball, with sand she had secretly collected on one of our trips to the coast, a small snippet of a branch from our first Christmas tree, and the word "Believe" hand written on the ball. Believe. Two people, deeply connected, give each other the same message on Christmas. I was floored. The connection continued.
The holidays rushed through, and just a couple of weeks after Christmas Cute Girl was getting ready for work when she missed a call from her father.
Forty five minutes later she realized she missed it and called him back. Her mother had been rushed to the hospital and nothing more was known. In less than 10 minutes she was on her way to the hospital which has an hour and a half away. If she broke the speed limit. Which she might have. Her mother had to be hospitalized for an extended period of time. She remained in the hospital just under two weeks and Cute Girl stayed with her the entire time. Sleeping there, eating there, and trying to keep her professional life going. I drove up there every night just in case I could support her in some small way. I should write a survival guide to waiting rooms.
Followin that fateful day in January, her mother came to live with her and remains here to this day. I admire her amazing ability to put her mother before herself. Her love shows through every single day. Never once has she complained.
And where are we? We still believe. I would like to tell you that the past five months have been a storybook where I support her well and she has a handle on everything. It hasn't been. We have had our issues, our struggles. Her mother living here. A daughter's fear that any day she could lose her mother. Placing her mother's needs above hers. A boyfriend that doesn't always get it. It has been a lot. Things that no person or people should have to endure. But we have. Because we believe. We are learning to adapt to things. Our communication might be better than it ever has before. And I am thankful for that today, and now know that tomorrow can bring anything that might change us forever. So I appreciate today.
I love Cute Girl. I admire her strength, her love for her mother, and to this day, I BELIEVE.