On this day four years ago, I got up at 5:00 a.m. I took my sweet time getting ready. I shaved my legs for twenty minutes. I let hot water envelope me into almost a meditative state. After I was clean, shaven, and relaxed, I opened my hotel room door and walked the 20 paces to my right and knocked on the door. I was meant with the welcoming faces of my father, his significant other and my sister. My sister then proceeded to do my hair and makeup. We then went into the lobby and ate some breakfast. Shortly after, we rode to the site where, in a few short hours, we would say I do. We had a quick walk-through. Afterwards, we all gathered together in the small conference room of the hotel and had a rehearsal brunch. Our friends and family all broke bread together and then we all scattered. Several hours later, I was driven through a garden in a classic convertible style car. My parents walked me down the aisle and my hand was placed in Ben’s hand. From that moment forward, I have often thought of that day. The sounds. The voices. The faces. I remember all of it, but yet, it is a blur.
Four years later, I think I have figured out that this is just how my brain processes the greatest days of my life, a large blur. The birth of both of my children happened much the same way. All the intricate details are hidden there, in the shadows of my mind. If I jostle my memory just enough, they come flooding back. Otherwise, they remain stored in that area of my memory. I prefer to think of it as a “corner.” This “corner” is a room with a green vintage screen door. From far away, you can see inside. Everything in there is white and has a haze to it. Lace hangs from the ceilings. There are frames with chubby cheeked newborns adorning the walls. It’s clean…no clutter allowed in this area. My wedding dress hangs from somewhere. I don’t know where because I can’t see through the lace. It seems to be suspended in time, just floating. In the back, there is a beautiful little oak desk with a single chair, a vintage typewriter, and a mug. The mug has an ever changing quote on it. Among all of these things that I love and hold of importance to me, there is a box. A caramel-colored, weathered, leather box. It is sitting lonely on a high shelf. It is much too high for me to reach alone. I think that is the point. I can not reach this box without my husband. This room in my memory would not exist without him. The chubby cheeked newborns, the dress I loved when I first tried it on, the corner desk with the typewriter and my dreams. I closed my eyes and beckoned him. When I opened them, he appeared in front of me, smiling. As in an answer to my unasked question, we both turn and reach for the box together. His hand has a tight grip on one side and mine on the other. Together we bring the box down and hold it between us. What is inside? Is it a gift? Is it a curse? Is it empty? As our eyes meet, we never break their stare, as together we lift the lid from the top. It seems like seconds pass, or is it minutes? Neither of us is looking down yet. He smiles and says, “Well, aren’t you going to look?”
I smile and answer with, “You first.” He shakes his head at this and in a moment we have agreed to look together. “One,” I say.
“Two,” he answers back.
“Three,” I say louder.
“FOUR,” said together this time. Both of our gazes drop and rest upon what lies between our hands.
The box falls to the floor.
Happy Anniversary my love.