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  • Scotte Burns

I Will Bring You More

by Scotte Burns

Riding across America together, we've asked people of every stripe and hue about first dates, pickup lines, families, love songs, and what makes their happily-ever-afters special. We find joy and inspiration in the humor, challenges, and experiences of lifetimes mutually lived. And before embracing and parting ways, we conclude these encounters by asking one final question: “We say “I love you” at the ends of phone conversations and when leaving for work. We mean it all the time, of course, and it’s important to say. But even so, it can become routine because we don’t often say ‘why’ we love one another. So, we’d like for you to look at one another and say “I Love You” without using the word ‘love.’ Why do you love each other?”

Toni mists up a bit when the answers come, and I’ve often paused while reviewing the videos to appreciate the wonder of people’s hearts for one another and how their words try to wrap up those hearts and gift them to their loves. Forty years ago today, we likewise offered our lives to one another, and as I have no greater gift to offer than my heart and soul, I would answer that same question thus...

How do I love thee?

I’ve tried to express this before, of course. I’ve written songs and poems for you, made and bought gifts, special dinners, and countless cards, notes, and goodies. We’ve taken trips, shared coffees and lunches, celebrated holidays and anniversaries, walked in rain and sun as I’ve tried to find the words. Words usually work for me, but they continue to fall short in this. And yet, you listen to every one. Best of all, you know every place where words fail and simply let the mingled beating of our hearts fill the void.

Of all the men in all the world, you chose me to be the suitor of your young soul, the father of your children, and the champion of all your years as they gather and then pass into memory. You have given me your time - the only thing we have in life that we can only give once. Of all the men who would have been stronger, more comely, wealthier, and given you a million other things than I could have ever offered, you said no, and took my hand instead for a lifetime. Through all my many failings and weaknesses, my doubts and cynicism, you buoyed me up and, laughing, refused to ever let me despair or surrender. And when those doubts came to you, and the chance to despair became yours instead, you turned to me for strength, believing that I would always have it - and to my amazement, somehow, your faith in me meant that it was always there. As the relentless flow of days weathers us and grays our hair, gathering more years on memories’ shores than in the ocean of time that was our youth, neither age, mortality, nor the mystery of eternity hold any fears for me because I have seen into that eternity through your love. My soul rests easy in its arms.

But there is still more because lifelong love, like the lives that join in nurturing it, is made of moments that only find their ultimate meaning over time, in memory. In mine, I see you making imaginary horses from coffee straws and then dancing them across a table as you giggle in delight and imagination. In every new place we discover together, you delight in its flora and bend over it all to touch and smell (and sometimes sneeze) your wonder at what everything is called, how, where, and with what it grows best. Every dog in a park becomes a friend that must be petted and scratched; every overheard laugh draws your eyes that now crinkle around the corners as they smile at joy and mischief. Especially the mischief.

As we explore together a country that is also part of our love story, I look in my mirror and see you blowing bubbles at seventy, singing a favorite song into the highway sky, and waving at every cop and biker who passes by. Every sweeping vista that takes my breath, I feel drawing yours as well, and with every lush farmland, mountain pass, desert sunrise, and seaside turn, I know we sigh and smile as one. And at the end of a beautiful but demanding forest road, filled with twists and turns for miles and hours, I worry that I’ve pushed too far and stop my bike at its end to find you, not leaned over the bars at rest, but leaping toward me, eyes bright and leathers creaking as you dance and shout, “That was the best road ever, let’s do it again!” I could say the same thing myself at the end of every day with you.

In the evening, as you sleep, I sometimes look at your face and behold the beauty of the woman you have become. I smile, knowing how you don’t see that face the way I do and that you will wake to lament the same wrinkles and lines that I adore. As the peace of sleep smooths those lovely lines, I see the young woman who fired my young man’s spirit, as well as the older one who continues to define my soul as our days on earth both grow and dwindle together. But I also see the little girl your daddy loved and am amazed that he chose to trust your heart in sharing it with me. He was a noble comedian, a gentleman in the truest sense, and a part of my love for you will always be shared with, through, and because of him.

And in a morning - like this morning of our anniversary - we share a sunrise, a life, a cup of coffee. You turn to me and ask if I’d like another; you were going downstairs anyway (of course, you were.) It’s just a moment, like any other making up a life, a love - an eternity. You ask again, as I was lost in thought looking at you, “I’d be happy to bring you more,” you say. In more ways than I will ever be able to express, and with a more profound love than there have ever been words to capture, you already have, my love.

You already have.


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