"No." He would find something in the display case more along the lines of my taste and watch their uncertain reactions and their certain response: "That's not an engagement ring." I've already heard the rhetoric - Conflict-free diamonds are out there and I can easily find something that is not the product of slave labor. But my objection to the diamond is not obvious. My objection is to the notion that love is proven by the size and the glitter and the expense of the diamond engagement ring that becomes the symbol of a couple's love.
Marcos has found himself in the unenviable position of falling in love with a woman who is severely damaged by her past, stubborn in her ways, and has rejected tradition. I feel sorry for his plight, but I love him with all of my heart for stepping up to the challenge. I love him in a way that can't be bought with diamonds, or bound by convention. I love him with a sapphire kind of love.
In the grand scheme of my own tradition, love has been dependent and desperate, pathetic and harmful. While I have loved truly and deeply in the past, it's never been a love that was matched by the receiving party. My tradition has been one of co-dependency and as to be expected in those kinds of relationships, they've all ended badly.
For the past two years I have been in a loving relationship, based on mutual respect and an independent desire to commit to that relationship. Marcos and I had a baby together because we love each other, we were married because we love each other, we are having another baby because we love each other, and we'll stay together because we love each other - Not because we NEED each other, or are dependent on each other, but simply because we find life is better together.
The man I married is the most loving, sincere, kind-hearted person I've ever known. I admire his sense of obligation to his family and appreciate it even more now that I have also become a recipient of his loyalty. I've learned there's not a thing we could do to make him turn his back on us. I've unfairly put him to the test over and over again, an unfortunate side effect from history of abandonment, but he never lets me down.
He is intelligent, and amazes me almost daily with his ability to think critically and independently, his ability to simply figure things out. His brain is an endlessly functional tool which can be used in solving technical problems, discussing the likely outcome of a political event, finding symbolism in a movie or television show, or answering the many questions that arise in our parenting adventure.
Every day he makes me laugh. And I've learned that someone who makes me laugh is invaluable to getting through this life.
He is the best father I ever could have wished for my daughter. Nothing makes me feel his love stronger than when I see him with our Eden. By simply being himself, he is setting an example for her as to what a man should be, what she should expect from them, and what she herself deserves. The love and dignity with which he treats her inspires me and makes me wish the same for every little girl.
And even beyond the love he shows for Eden, he continues to amaze me with the love he is able to show for a little boy he never even met. He's never treated me like a childless woman, but has always acknowledged that I was a mother before our relationship began, that I have a son, Gabriel, and he is a part of me. He is a part of our family, even if not physically present. His memory is a part of the home we're building together. That's something I didn't think I would find, but means more to me than I could ever say.
Today, my husband's 40th birthday, I find myself reaching into my memory to recall a time when he wasn't a part of my life, and a part of me.