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Treasure Chest

A devoted husband, deployed to Afghanistan for a year, makes sure his beloved wife is reminded daily how he feels about her.

Side-by-side illustrations of a man adrift and a woman waving from shore

Fourteen years of marriage and we never went a day without saying “I love you.” Now we were being separated for a whole year.

Bound for Afghanistan, my husband, Randy, whispered in my ear, “Remember the chest.”

As soon as I got home, I opened up the small wooden box and took out a message Randy had left inside. “I love you” was written in perfect purple print.

Oodles of other strips of paper were inside the chest, and in colored pencil, each said the exact same thing.

The message came in an array of colors; some in cursive, some in print; others featured hand-drawn hearts. In all, Randy had made 365 love notes, one to treasure for each day he was gone.

Our July anniversary: “I love you.” My son’s October wedding: “I love you.” Thanksgiving. Christmas. My birthday. “I love you.” “I love you.” “I love you.”

I couldn’t call Randy on his birthday, but I had his message. We weren’t separated completely. “I love you.”

As the box emptied, I missed him more, but I also knew that each piece of paper meant another moment closer to the day I could hug him again.

Finally I took my very last piece of paper from the chest. Not even with Randy’s yearlong deployment to Afghanistan did our love skip a beat.


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