My sweetie is leaving me today.

Oh, not for good. Just for four nights. Parts of five days. That’s about 96 hours. Five thousand, seven hundred and sixty minutes, give or take.

I kinda like her.

I remember meeting her for the first time. I remember looking down at her (I’m tall) snuggled into a thick sweater and watching her eyes sparkle up at me. I think that realistically, that was THE historic moment. As the Arabian proverb has it, “Lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty… and from that day forward, he was as one dead.” Yup. I was toast. I’ve been lost in her eyes ever since.

I remember walking in the park in spring, holding hands before I had to leave on a long trip, feeling that longing, that ache for her. And I remember gazing into her eyes.

I remember confessing my past to her, humiliated beyond words but knowing that she needed to know what she was getting herself into. I remember her finger lifting my sullen chin up until my eyes met hers and I realized that God was looking at me through them with pure, smothering grace. She still loved me, and so did Jesus.

I remember watching her appear at her father’s arm at the top of the centre isle in the church, alighting among us mortals like an angelic vision, striding forward with elven grace toward me while I tried to breathe again. “I do” was the understatement of my life.

I remember sitting in Olive Garden on the Riverwalk in San Antonio on our Honeymoon, drinking in the magic of the moment, trying to memorize every detail, swimming once again in the chocolate gems that embrace me with such ferocious, tender love and admiration that I want to be a better man.

I remember so many times this year as we go on our Monday morning dates, getting caught up in calendars and planning and kid’s sports and just stopping it all for a moment to look into each other’s eyes. Those are eternal moments where everything else falls away and its just us again.

Tonight I’ll roll over to kiss her good night and take another look into her eyes, and she won’t be there. She’ll be having a sleepover with two dear friends a time zone away. But I’ll look into her eyes anyway, in my mind, because they’re etched there, part of my soul.

And I’ll smile.

And sigh.