To Matthew

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Dearest Matthew,

Do you remember how it snowed on the night that we met? Your eyes met mine, and in that moment, it felt as if I had found you again from another lifetime. You shot me a mischievous smile. "No, no, Nina," my friends warned, "he definitely will not be good for you." I put your face between my warm palms and kissed you anyways. I really had no choice, you see. I loved you from the beginning.

We walked the snow covered streets of Boston with its seductive lights glistening across the wet pavement. We lived in our own dream, exhilarated by the wonder of this -- the beginning of all beginnings, the last first kiss. Just you and me. I read that falling in love is a lot like falling asleep. It happens slowly at first and then all at once -- like the slow tide that draws you in and then swallows you whole before you even realize it.

I knew you loved me when I opened your refrigerator. You had cooked an impressive dinner, and we ended the meal with a decadent blackberry mousse. I knew you loved me when I opened your refrigerator to find twelve blackberry mousses that you would not serve me. You have always wanted everything to be perfect for me. That night, you wanted perfection in the blackberry mousse.

My sweet love, how terrible life can be. I'm so sorry that I have pulled you into the unyielding wrath of my illness. I'm afraid that it has left you a little bit broken, so scarred by the profound reality that there is actually no perfection in this world. So scarred by the profound reality of my mortality. Sometimes, I find you gazing listlessly into the distance. I wonder what you're thinking, and then your poor terrified eyes fall upon me. You are caught in a storm, gasping desperately for air unable to breathe at the thought of life without me.

These days when our eyes meet, there is so much worry, my dear. The lightness has been replaced by something so heavy that I fear you will sink into the quicksand. There is not a single moment that I take for granted how desperately you love me. I love you more for it each day.

In Buddhism, we learn that there is only one certainty in life which is that we will all inevitably face death. I understand this more now, and it makes me so eager to live, Matt. I want us to live each moment as the best versions of ourselves. I want us to love in a way we never knew possible. I want us to live life like it is meant to be lived: Awake.

Put your hands in mine, my love. Let's not worry about tomorrow. Let me just love you in this moment and find shelter in the warmth of your embrace.

Put your hands in mine, my love. Let us watch every sunset and drown in the beauty of the fiery rouge spilling across the waves.

Put your hands in mine, my love. And dream of how wrinkled our hands will look years from now as we grow old together fingers intertwined.

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