Charming. Charismatic. Goofy. Funny. Hilarious. Naughty. Smart. Competitive. Brave. Strong. Sexy. Alive. Energetic. Compassionate. Selfless. Magnetic. Inspirational. Those are just a few of the words that I think of when I think of my sweet Toby. There is nothing more perfect in my life than our imperfect relationship and my connection with a man so much bigger than anything I could have dreamed of.
I am sick. We don’t know what’s going on, we’re getting more blood work and pushing paperwork for OHSU and a neurologist in Boise. It is so difficult to get an appointment anywhere. I have been laying around sleeping, mostly, for a few days. So not me. I’m not sure what to do. If I listened to my body, I’d be asleep a lot. But, if my body is goofed up, do I listen to a goofed up self or just push through it and do what has to be done? Is that attitude of just doing it anyways actually hurting me?
Yesterday I got outside to breathe nice air. I shoveled the driveway. I am able to start okay, but I can’t do much and my arms are dead. It took me a couple different times of trying, and finally, Quincy offered to take over.
The biggest concern right now and the scariest – I’m having swallowing, chewing, talking difficulties. We’ve noticed it here and there over the past six months, but right now, it is more evident. Still somewhat sporadic, but seemingly progressive. I am an eater by design. I love eating. It takes a lot to make me not eat. I’m finally surrendering. Yesterday was mostly liquidish meals. Everyday is something different. Every. Single. Day.
My Toby is such a brave little soldier. I know he is so scared. He has been watching his wife deteriorate since our engagement 13 years ago. 13? I love 13. I really hope it is 13. It’s Christmastime and we are opening presents with our seriously crazy roommate Brian. He was amazing! I love him. He tolerated me. Toby got me this humongous gift. It was time to open it and he brought it in front of me. It was a box of styrofoam peanuts. It had to have taken me several minutes to get them out. There was a paper stuck to the bottom of the box. Nice. I pull this paper off and it says, “Turn around.”
I’m like, “Turn what around?” So, I flip the box over and try to figure out if I missed some other paper or something.
“Dana! Turn around!” It was Toby. On his knee. With his grandmother’s ring.
I said yes.
What an adventure. I don’t think I have ever loved and hated and wanted and detested and liked and been frustrated with anyone as much as Toby. None of it is negative. Even the negative stuff. Because, two negatives make a positive, or something like that. I’ve complained a lot about him. Verbally or in my mind. I made a choice awhile ago not to do that anymore. It really helped. I think the Lord used that to help protect me from bitterness and envy.
It is so hard to be married to someone so very amazing as Toby. In his shadow. He gets reports from his boss and they are perfect. Refrigerator worthy. He gets raises and bonuses and belts and medals and he does it all while being an amazing, hands-on, in yo’ face dad and husband. Seriously. Who does that?
When I met Toby, his messy spiky hair and that naughty twinkle in his eye… within minutes of sitting down at the table at Denny’s… seeing him across the floor. I knew. I told my friend Shaun that I had come to coffee with… Okay, I’ll back up.
I’m in college. BSU. My boyfriend had just broken up with me. I was heartbroken. Seriously. I thought I loved him and he thought he loved me, I think. My dad actually had kicked me out of his home, so I think the break-up with this boy wasn’t so devastating because it was the boy, but because I cringe at any form of rejection. So, my girl friend Shaun and I are supposed to go see the play, “A Doll’s House.” Me, in my infinite wisdom, tell Shaun, “Let’s just skip it. I totally know this from high school. Let’s go play.” So, we did. I am so naughty. We ended up at Denny’s and we passed by a table of three boys and one chick.
I saw Toby. I told my friend Shaun that was the one I wanted. In a few minutes the chick at the boys table came over to us. She asked us if we wanted to come and join their table and meet her guy friends. We talked about if privately and finally went over. I’d like to say that the first day we met we fell in love, and maybe we did, but here’s the thing…
The chick that came over to our table to bring us to her guy friends, was actually Toby’s girlfriend. Seriously. One week. He broke up with her in a week. In the great big land of Boise we lived down the alley from each other off of River Street. A 30-second walk, at most.
We made out constantly. Ha.
Toby told me where he’d been. The life he’d led – drugs, girls, arrested, jail, and more. I should have ran. Here’s the thing: when I come into the picture, I see a thriving, joyful, muscle man of potential in Toby. He was working at HP. Through a contract employer, but he’d just received a significant promotion. At 19 he was rubbing shoulders with adults twice or three times his age. And he was shining. That takes some balls, people. It takes something so amazingly special to get out of the depths of where he had been and into the life that he was now leading. i just knew.
I don’t know if there is another man in the world that can love me as big as Toby. He tolerates me on days when I am angry and mean to everyone simply because I don’t feel well. He has never doubted me. Not once. With all of the doctors telling me they don’t know, to go to another specialist, to take a pill, to get to a psychiatrist IMMEDIATELY… through all of the collections, debt, financial struggle that this has caused… through sacrificing what he wants to do because he has to do my chores around the house. For years. He doesn’t complain. Ever. Instead of saying, “I need a break.” He says, “Can I get you anything, doll face?”
I am so blessed to have this Christmas and many more with you, Toby. I’m looking at our tipped over tree, no presents underneath, so thankful that our love and the love we have for our children cannot be displayed once a year, wrapped with a bow. We have a relationship rich in detail, memories, laughs, connection, and togetherness. Thank you for asking me to marry you. Merry Christmas.