The most romantic statement Gabe ever made to me didn’t happen on our wedding day. He didn’t declare it at the base of the Eiffel tower, or pen it in a greeting card. It caught me by surprise as we were out to dinner on a rare weeknight alone.

It was around the holidays, a particularly tough time for blended families. The mix of holiday hoopla and memory and grief is a tough one for parents and kids alike. We were no exception, and were feeling particularly banged up and bruised that night. Truthfully, we weren’t all that excited about going out, but felt like we should take advantage of our childless state and paint the town red. Or at least share a pizza.

We settled into a corner table in a small Italian restaurant. It was busy that night, filled with kids and groups of friends celebrating together. We weren’t bothered; this wasn’t a real date night, after all.

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