To Philip With Love

I have always thought the gift you gave me was your love for me because, besides God, no one on this earth could love me as much as you love me. But as we have grown up and grown older together, I am certain you have given me a different and very precious gift…a gift that I had always yearned for. I had ached for it even when I was a young girl lying in my mosquito-netted bed in our home in Vietnam, drifting in and out of haunting sleep with rocket explosions in place of lullabies. I could not find a name for it; I didn’t know its face, I only knew my hunger for it.

Since that winter night we met at Wheaton College in 1975, you’ve eased me out of my cocoon and put me on the open palm of your hands. I see the world from there and I feel safe. I knew my dreams really lived “out there”; I have wanted to catch them, but I have not always trusted my wings. “You can go and catch your dreams. Don’t be afraid, I am always here for you,” you gently told me.

Now I know the gift’s face and no longer hunger for it; its name is Freedom. You showed me the art of abandoning fear so that I may be free to love, and free to have passions for things I believe in. You once told a friend: “Marriage is a commitment to help the other to grow.” You have steadfastly done that and more, even when you have had to put aside your own pursuits for a time. The gift you have given me, like a magic potion, has helped me grow beyond my imagination.

That Christmas night when Love came and stayed, Love also transformed me. Because of Freedom, your token of love, I continue to be pleasantly surprised with this unceasing self-discovery.

It is truly a miracle that we, two strangers from such divergent cultures, through this Love have become two well-fitted halves of one complete and exquisite whole. Well-fitted? Yes, I can honestly say that after our twenty something years of many ups and downs. We still disappoint each other and our conflicts are unpleasant. The heartaches Love brings can be excruciating. But, would you walk with me for the rest of our journey? I thank you. With God’s help, I will make it all worthwhile for you.

Happy Valentines, my love, today and always.

Anh Vu Sawyer, Song of Saigon, Warner Books.