Virtually, each morning I am the first awake in my household. I shower, dress for work, feed and care for the dogs. In the quiet of the predawn dark, I check my email, print my work schedule, and perhaps, if time allows, visit a blog friend or two.

The dogs rush with me back upstairs and are off to nestle in bed with my wife. I wash a few dishes from the night before, make coffee and in rhythm to the churning drips and gentle aromas, prepare my breakfast. I usually have a bowl of cereal topped with some fresh fruit and a little protein powder. In the dim light of morn, I walk out front to retrieve the paper, scanning the headlines as I settle back at the table to eat, sip coffee with a touch of cream, and begin my day.

Shortly, I make my way back upstairs, walk quietly into my bedroom, and into the bathroom. I shut the door in darkness and turn on the light. A moment spent brushing my teeth and then I turn out the light. I pause, just allowing my eyes to adjust, open the door to the bedroom and as much by touch as sight, find my way to the bedside. I follow my touch, finger tips tracing the mattress top, over her pillow to the top of her head. I lean over slightly and kiss her.

“Have a great day,” I always say softly.

Sometimes she will whisper a similar greeting, words finding their way through sleep’s veil. Sometimes she will remain silent, perhaps unconscious of my presence, captured still by the arms of deepest slumber. Yet, always, always, she will stir a bit; snuggling toward the sleeping dogs.

In that moment I know why I work, why I strive to be a better man, and why I am so determined to succeed today. In that moment, I am alive as much as any man can be, and I am grateful.