What would I want this new year to bring / Well, I’d want you here with me

I slip on my shoes and run out without my coat, unlock the car, turn the key in the ignition, and blast the heat. I set the seat warmer as high as it will go. Then I run back inside to finish packing my lunch. By the time I get ready to leave, the windows are defrosted and the car (especially my seat) is toasty warm.

When I was younger, I remember that my dad would get up specifically to start my mom’s car in frosty weather, even if he didn’t have to be up yet. When I started driving, he’d do mine as well. It’s such a small thing, but I never had to think about the car before it was time for me to walk out the door.

Now that I’m a grownup, and now that I have to be at work at 8:00 instead of 9:00 (I live in the South. Frost is gone by 9:00), I have to start my own car. Mike leaves about 30 minutes before I do, so it’s not feasible for him to start it on a regular basis. A few times over Christmas break, he did get up and take care of my car for me, and, you know, I wouldn’t have known until he did it that it was a big deal until he did it. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t really have the words to say what that meant to me, that I’d still be thinking about it over a month later. I hadn’t needed him to do it before, and I wouldn’t have asked. But he did it even though it meant leaving a warm bed on a cold morning.

Mike and I had a conversation over Christmas break about how, if I expect him to be just like my dad, I miss the ways he grows and changes. He did some things that were new for him, and I took them for granted because they were the kinds of things that my dad did. But then he does something unexpected, something I think I have to take care of myself, like getting up to start my car or coming back in before he leaves to make sure I know how frosty it is outside. And I remember that, for all the ways he’s not like Dad, he has that same big heart.

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