You need to know I love you. Every part of you. Even the parts I said I hated yesterday. At my worst I’ll take you down, picking at everything you do; articulating every annoyance. This is why it’s essential you read this over and over again. Because I’m no good at apologizing like you are. It takes all my strength to release grip on the part of myself that knows I was wrong, that knows yelling out, “I’m leaving you” for the 30th time still hurts and I need to evaluate what I say before I say it. If I believed in soulmates, you’d be mine.

Knowing you meant stepping into a greater variant of myself. You make me better by simply believing I am good. You challenge the fragile parts of my brain and help grow them stronger. You are a servant before anything. A servant to Christ, to me, to your sons. You lead with a servant heart. I believe there’s no greater example of leadership than this. I love you for the way you love others. I love every quirk, every nuisance, yes, even your lack of shame and the chronic flatulence that goes along with it.

There’s something tremendous about feeling understood. You understand me deeply. You understand much of my irritation uttered is really just an empty stomach needing sustenance… RIGHT NOW. You oblige, taking my anger lightly as you hand me an egg-roll. You understand I find more joy reading to you on a Friday night than going out, and so you don’t just let me read out loud but you listen, you really listen, and I love you for that. I love the way fatherhood compliments, and in some ways reveals, fascists of your personality. You accept defeat like any good teacher or guardian keeping an open heart, growing and making changes as needed.

You are a kind human despite the demons you wrestle with.

When we first started dating you said the thing you fear the most is yourself. I don’t know which self you meant. Maybe the self that had a smoking addiction? The self that lacked a stable father figure? The self that slept around? The bullied self? The emotional self? All of it? I hope you rest easy now knowing the pain that once haunted you, beautifully becomes you. A you I love. A you known. A you who is, among many things, a good man.

Aubrey Cofield