Two years ago on Valentine’s Day I started a post dedicated to you, but I never quite finished it. I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t find the courage or the right timing, or if I simply wasn’t entirely confident in how I wanted to go about writing something so important to me—to perfectly embody all that you are.
And tonight it hit me: It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be from the heart. Everything you do shines from your heart.
So, here’s how the post began:
I found myself crying as we drove down the 118 freeway—a dark, two-way road surrounded by farmland that curves and winds its way from the Ventura County coast to our hometown of little, old Moorpark, with a population of about 36,000, one high school and a whole lot of history.
The tears came as I realized one of the most beautiful Valentine’s Day weekends I’d ever experienced had come to an end. Two days spent with our five best friends at your mom’s house on the beach, filled with laughter and love and the feeling of just being home—no matter if we’d both moved away from that little, old town.
And, admittedly, the tears came with thoughts of him–as they typically do during those long drives—that I had to brush out of my mind like windshield wipers during a slight, Los Angeles drizzle.
But it wasn’t raining that night.
In fact, despite the winding dark road of the 118, there was a ray of sunshine sitting in the driver’s seat next to me.
When I read this over, I can envision that drive perfectly: It would have marked my four-year anniversary with you-know-who, and I was a total mess. Despite that bit of writing saying I wiped those thoughts away like windshield wipers, you know as well as I do it wasn’t that easy. It’s never been that easy. Love isn’t easy.
And that brings me to you, Sunshine.
I could write an entire book dedicated to all the fun times we’ve had: The drunken banana boat rides in Cabo, Mr. One Sock in Las Vegas, Kings game after Kings game and beach day after beach day. I could write about those moments I’ve come running to your house after getting into a massive fight with my sister or getting kicked out of my family’s Thanksgiving. I could go on about our days turned into nights while out in Hermosa Beach and Santa Monica, our salty-and-sweet mimosa brunches and our equal cravings for both In-n-Out and SoulCycle. It would take me a while, but I might even be able get through all the memories of you falling asleep in the most random places and all the times you’ve taken care of me when I went a little too hard (I’ll never forgive myself for your 26th birthday).
But while all of that means so much to me, it’s actually some of your darker days that prove what a light you are in my life and in this world.
I watched you as you read that letter from your first love, explaining why you two could no longer work, the words blurring together as tears simultaneously streamed down your face. I watched you as your family went through a massive change, crumbling the life you’d built for 22 years, adding the pieces of your heart to the wreckage. I watched you as you mourned the passing of your grandfather, and I watch the tears well up in your eyes each time “Take Me Home, Country Roads” plays. I watched you when you received an Instagram message—of all things—that would send you into a dizzying spiral of heartbreak and the phone call that lent you the absolute hardest place to land.
And just one week ago, I watched you cry into your shaking hands over a man that just wasn’t ready for the immense amount of love you have to offer.
And for the first time I cried with you. I cried for your heart, Sunshine.
You see, each time I’ve watched you through all the heartbreak you’ve faced in your life, I’ve also watched you pick up the pieces, one by one, delicately rebuilding the thing you hold most sacred…
Each time I’ve watched you gather your balance and stand back up, placing that same heart in your hand—built and broken and rebuilt again—vulnerable and honest and willing to take the chance of it being torn out from you once more.
The things you’ve been through and the heartbreak you’ve faced could turn any person hard and cold, but you’ve somehow managed to maintain your warmth. Just like the sun always returns after the darkness, your heart has never stopped shining. You’ve never stopped loving. And just like the universe needs the sun, it also needs that kind of love.
Your kind of love.
I cried that night because I never want any obstacle or heartbreak to change that about you, to change the way you love and care so deeply. Love isn’t easy, and life isn’t easy, but people like you—people who keep fighting and loving and getting knocked down and getting back up again only to keep fighting harder and loving more—those are the people who make this world a little easier to live in. You’re the type of person who gives people like me hope.
I’ve gone down some of the darkest roads in my life with you by my side—the 118 that Valentine’s night was just one of them. But each time I think it’s about to get so dark I won’t be able to find my way back, you’ve always been the light in my life to guide me home—maybe it’s not back to that little town named Moorpark anymore, but it’s always back to the home I’ve found in family and friendship and love.
Your kind of love.
You see, Sunshine, you’ve taught me—with all my rough edges—that being a little softer doesn’t mean you’re not strong. You’ve taught me that no matter what or who you face in life, no matter what breaks apart or crumbles beneath you, you have to keep rebuilding, picking yourself back up and learning to love again and again and again.
So today, I’m finishing that post I began two years ago to give you that sunshine you so freely use to brighten everyone else’s life. The last few weeks—scratch that, the last few years haven’t been easy. The roads you’ve been traveling have certainly grown a bit darker, but there is a light…You are the light. And just like you’ve helped guide me back home time and time again, I have no doubt in your ability to rebuild the thing you hold most sacred…
The truest thing I’ve ever known is your ability to love, Sunshine girl. So, please, for all of us, keep shining.
The Girl Who Loves You…More