I didn't keep quiet because I thought I deserved it. I didn't keep quiet because I thought you were "right". I didn't keep quiet because nothing happened. I didn't keep quiet to deny my truth.
I kept quiet out of respect for you. Knowing how much you have done for me. Knowing how you are also a hurting person. Knowing I didn't want to add to your pain and embarrassment. Knowing who I am... I was able to stay quiet.
If your name was tarnished- it wasn't because of me. I gave you the opportunity to squash my reputation in exchange for sparing your own. That's how I wanted it. I had a lot of life to live, and you had limited time. I didn't want to negate all of those efforts to reassure you of my love and that my caring for you was genuine.
To love you and to care about you was to allow you to hurt me. But don't be misled- you never took away from who I was or what I am worth. I guess I just learned younger than you what true love is. Love is letting the world think of your loved one better than how you know them. Love is celebrating the person you pray for them to be. Love loves without manipulation with the faith that the right things will come to pass.
I did all of that for you... until the day you died. I never let our worlds overlap to keep your reputation unscathed. To prove to you- that you never lost out when you purchased my soul. You made a life investment and future dividends. I now see that you loved me too. You loved me the only way you knew how. Lord have mercy...
In the end, I taught myself, as a child myself, how to sacrifice for my future children and my future family. I have no regrets. I wouldn't do it any other way. I was genuine. I was true. So as your birthday comes around the first time since your burial, I have a new found sense of peace. Out of my ashes, I see the person I always was and I never compromised in those ways. I learned how love is not a bandaid or an eraser- but a bridge where we can shoulder each other's secrets and pain.
Because of all that I can say- I love you.