I know you don’t love compliments. I know you don’t want much fanfare made about you. And even though today, your day of birth, is and should be about you….you’ll have to allow me this moment to tell you how loved you are. Perhaps finding the words isn’t as easy for me anymore because I’ve said nearly all of them, over and over again. But even this is a testament to you because you make me so damn grateful every day; I can’t keep it to myself. I live in a fairly deep and constant surge, which still surprises me each day with its depth and magnitude. Someone once asked me how I went from never having a home, or needing anyonre really, to the life I have now and I said it was easy…and what I meant by that was, I have found the person so completely my other half and equal, someone I can really let myself need and depend on. And what I mean is, even if we choose it every day, in the best way, its never felt like a choice. Its just felt like what was right, what we should be doing. It was easy to let myself love you and need you, even after years of convincing myself I didn't need or want anyone at all. I could only be this person for you. I hope you really know that, because it is the damn truth. My love for you is the kind of stuff I didn’t think was real, at least not for me, but you challenge me every day to think harder, be better, do more. I love you so much, Theo. And even though I blab about it nearly constantly these days…I am still so sure I can only tell you the tip of it, the bare bones of it, as the depths of it escape my words. They always have, always will. But hey, I’ll try.

They don’t make them like you anymore. You’re something else, something truly special and wonderful. You show up. You make yourself present. You’re quiet when you need to be- a true skill in this world- and you speak up when you need to as well. You’re funny and yet serious. You know just how to be at just the right time, and you make it seem effortless. You pull people to you because you are kind, because you listen, because you’re always there even when you know you probably shouldn’t be anymore. You show up- in places like Greece, or even in North Dakota when people need you the most. You use your intelligence to share their stories, and even when it hurts you- and I know it does, deeply- you stay invested, you never stop learning, you never stop reading, and you never stop doing what you can for those that have impacted your life in some way. It would be much easier to never care, to remain ignorant, but you won’t do that. I love that about you.

You are constantly challenging me, getting me to read more, listen more, and learn more. You’re always so open with me, willing to listen to me go on and on about my passions, and even if they do make you want to fall asleep- you never let me see you blink. You care because I care and I care for you and what you do too. You are my partner in every way. I feel so complete now, in ways I never knew were possible because I thought I could handle everything on my own, and I can, but now I don’t have to. That makes all the difference sometimes. You make me feel safe. You are my home. I don't have walls with you, I can't. You've completely disarmed me, and I wouldn't change a thing.

I love you in ways that surprise me, even still. I can be doing nothing at all, or maybe a mindless task, and you will spring to my mind and I’ll think, I want to talk to you, or see you, or kiss you. And this never goes away. Not even when we spend a majority of our time together. What the fuck, man? How’d you do this to me?

I don’t want to focus on the past, but I still think it is important to tell you how grateful I am that you didn’t give up on me. I didn’t deserve you then, and I might not even deserve you now, but I’ll happily spend the rest of my life working toward being deserving of you. I often think about how I would have spent every day for the rest of my life knowing I had lost the one person in the world I felt was truly made for me, and I for him. When you realize something of that magnitude, it is equal parts terrifying and…liberating. This realization, made often in the shower when I’d have those fake conversations with you, let me know that even if I had damaged us beyond repair, I had spent the most beautiful year with a person I would love forever. And how lucky was I to even have had that? How grateful was I? And of course, the idea of not being with you is the sort of searing hot pain I can still barely touch, or think about, but it all goes back to that simple line from Beau Taplin, the line that so perfectly sums up how I feel about you, the line that pulled me up when I was falling apart, “What a privilege it was to have mattered to you.” And I wanted to matter to you still. So we fought, and we got better. The best we’ve ever been, and you deserve a large chunk of the credit for that, for not walking away even when it was easier. You showed me how much you loved me then, and I plan to spend the rest of my life doing the same for you.

Happy Birthday to the man I love spending every day with, to the man who makes me laugh harder than anyone else, and to the man I love so much that my words always feel like they've fallen a bit short. I hope you know how much you are loved, and how I long to spend every last birthday with you that I can, telling you every year just how much you mean to me. You are so smart, so giving, so truly...everything. Honestly, Theo. There's no one really like you, and I am lucky to be your friend, nevermind your love. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not 100 percent sure I am just where I am supposed to be, and I hope today and every day you feel the same. I love you so much, Theo. Happy, happy birthday to the man, the myth, the legend. Bubs, you're tops. I wouldn't change a thing about you. Here's to your 32nd trip around the sun, thanks for letting me make the trip with you.