"I love you," he said.
He thought those words were inadequate to tell all he had to say. He wanted to say more, tell her how deeply he cared.
But it was enough, she thought. In many ways, it was everything.
Thinking abou it, she'd recall that he recited his poetry to her and picked up his socks. Mostly. Some of the socks went missing for weeks and she hated it when he did his own laundry because he did such small loads.
That was enough, she thought. But there were other things.
He made dinner most nights. He'd make extra so that when he traveled, she'd have some home cooked meals. He snored, but he made good chicken marsala.
He made her laugh. A lot. He listened to his gawd-awful music much too loud and couldn't carry a tune in a large pail, but he made her laugh everyday.
He liked to feed birds and grow flowers, both of which he did for himself. He tracked dog poo into the house, but his "garden of birds" was a place of solace, peace and beauty and she understood that.
He kissed her for no particular reason. And rubbed her back without being asked. Both of those were nice, real nice.
He had brought her times of sadness and days of abundant joy. The joy outweighed the sadness, so the scale was leaning correctly, she thought.
He was away much too often it seemed. Times apart were the hardest. At times, the conversations were filled with news, sweet words and plans for the days when they'd share the same air and sky again. Other times the talk was clipped as the events of the previous day took their toll on his spirit and will. The conversations that mattered would have to wait. The waiting worked as they reconnected with their words while looking into each other's eyes.
He had given her the love of the outdoors. This surprised her the most. A city girl, through and through, she never imagined she would actually long to see red cliffs, flowing wild rivers and trees older than anything else alive.
He thought her to be beautiful. He marveled at her grace when she failed to recognize it. She believed his words, but thought him blind most days.
He said that she was bright, smart and insightful. "The smartest woman I know," he'd tell his friends. She thought otherwise as she listed her mental shortcomings, forgetfulness and inability to call up a word that worked best in a sentence.
He was a dreamer who shared his dreams with her. She liked that. Even when those dreams were clearly out of any reach, she appreciated the sharing.
And among those things she liked, he lowered the lid on the toilet.
Yeah, that was it. He lowered the lid after he peed. She got hot just thinkin' about it.