Soundtrack: Moon River, Henry Mancini/Dear Bobbie, Yellowcard
Tulips are her favorite.
Today was her birthday, so I had to look sharp. I had to bring the flowers. She deserved it. I dressed in my best tux and began walking the short length to her home. I carried the flowers in one hand and nervously tapped my side pocket with the other.
Today was a special day.
The sun was shining, and a summer wind blew through the trees, whispering encouragement in my ears. I felt excitement in my bones--the same feeling I had every time I saw her beautiful face, her heartbreaking smile. That feeling, and that wind, told me I was the luckiest man in the world. Before I even arrived, I saw her standing there, wearing the same floral sundress she often wore. I paused and looked into her eyes, gathering up my strength. I walked the remaining distance and she smiled. The giant oak tree nearby covered us in cool shade, masking the heat in my cheeks.
"Happy birthday," I manage to stumble out. She was probably biting her lip, as she often did, trying not to laugh at my inability to be charismatic. However, I was too busy digging around in my pocket to notice this time. After awhile, I finally found it. The little black box. "I'm sorry if I'm a little late," I tell her. "I had to make sure I had everything right." I swallowed the lump in my throat, and got down on both knees. "Well, you know I'm not the best at these things, but just bear with me okay?" My hands began to sweat while I held the box. It seemed like an eternity before I could start again. I was so nervous that I couldn't even look at her. My eyes just focused on the ground in front of me. "I think I fell in love with you when I first saw you, smelling these same yellow tulips in your garden. There was just something about you that I couldn't put my finger on. At that moment, I knew I couldn't possibly love anybody else because you had completely taken my heart away from me. And I know that I sound corny right now, especially when I'm in this monkey suit, but you were used to being completely adored. I just..."
I paused and rubbed my temples. I took a deep breath and tried to ignore the headache that was coming.
"I know I always say this, but why you chose to love me back perplexed me. Me--the bumbling fool. But you did choose me, so I didn't question it. I was grateful. I was just happy to see you and have you in my arms every single day. No one could ever possibly know how much I love you, and I..."
The ground became blurry. The tears had started to come, and there was no sense in hiding it now. I took off my glasses and wiped my face. She comforted me in her silence. Always silent. I let out a small sob.
"...and I miss you. I miss your grace, your voice, your overwhelming desire to make everyone around you happy. In all the sixty years that I loved you, I haven't thought twice about anything, regretted anything. You were the one who always told me to never look back, and so I haven't. I'm thankful for every memory you have given me."
I put the flowers down on the ground and opened the black box. Her wedding ring.
"I know you wanted to renew our vows one more time before you left. I'm sorry that we never had the chance but I'll make it up to you. Our granddaughter is getting married tomorrow, and I know that she'll take good care of it..."
I drifted off, my chest heaving, but a sad smile crept on my face as I wiped the last few tears off with my sleeve. "I miss you darling," I barely manage to whisper. A few minutes passed before I could regain my words. "I can't wait to see you again--to touch your face and smell your hair, to hold you in my arms again and tell you over and over how youstill don't know how much I love you........but....until then, take care of my heart? You never did give it back."
I stood up slowly, my old back stiff. I pressed my fingers along her name and smiled softly as I heard the sounds of my grandchildren in the background calling my name. I wiped the wet grass off my knees and straightened the flowers. Before I could walk away another wind swept through the trees and I could almost smell the lilac of her perfume. Her way of saying goodbye.
"Be seeing you...Happy birthday, sweetheart."art."