love me or leave me

My friend had a really bad dream.

For real, this is a story about my friend's bad dream. It's not about me and Ryan, or any other real-life couple. It's about a dream-version of my friend's marriage.

In her dream, her husband came to her and said, "You're the only woman I'll ever love. I love you and I love our son. But I have to go and travel the world. I love you so much, but I am leaving."

When she told me about it, I asked her if, in her dream, her husband would consider, rather than loving her and leaving, perhaps not loving her and staying. Because if, in real life, Ryan ever presented me with that choice, I know which one I'd choose.

It sounds pathetic, I know, to ask someone to stick around even if they don't love you. But I'll tell you, when you have a kid, or 2 kids, or 3, when you've spent years standing side-by-side balancing the building blocks of your singular life jointly on your shoulders, the loss of the person sounds a lot more catastrophic than the loss of the love.

Yeeeeahhhh... couldn't you just, you know, not love me and stick around?

Couldn't you just, like, be cordial with me and continue to brew the first pot of coffee in the morning?

Couldn't you just nod and smile absently to me in passing and stay here to be the one who does Chicken's bath and bedtime? And takes the trash cans to the curb Sunday night? And makes sure the car gets serviced when it's supposed to?

It's fine if you don't love me anymore, but I'm really going to need you here to fix the toilet when it runs, and get out of bed to check that the window by the front door is closed and locked.

I totally hear you - no love. Got it. But since you're here, can you please hold the baby while I take a shower?

So, just to be clear, you don't love me, right? OK cool. But listen, dividing up the books and DVDs sounds like a massive pain in the ass, so... how about if we just do like a roomie thing.

Since we're not loving each other anymore I won't bother you with any stories about my day, but I'm going to tell you all about what your sons did. I'm going to show you pictures and videos, and I need to be able to see your face while I'm telling you and showing you. I need you around so I can see you smile, so I can see that you're still the only other person on earth who loves them the same way I do.

Thanks.

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