Tales on Tuesday: More Than My Own Life {volume 5}

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Here’s the final piece of More Than My Own Life. I hope you like it.


~October 20, 2002~

My breathing picks up the closer I get to Denver. It’s just Jasmine and me in the car, and I’m simultaneously nervous and excited. The day’s finally come that Joshua’s home. I’ve booked a room at the Hilton for tonight so I don’t have to drive the three hours home until tomorrow. Tonight, I just want to enjoy my husband’s company. And I know he’s going to want to spend quality time with Jasmine.

I pull into the parking lot of the same school where I said good-bye to him over a year ago. It seems like it’s been a lifetime; so much has happened. Jasmine is awake and happy, so I take her out of the carrier rather than bringing the whole thing. There are several other excited looking wives, husbands, girlfriends, and boyfriends already here.

About ten minutes after I enter the gymnasium, the doors on the far side open, and the soldiers enter. I look for Joshua; he’s in the second wave of men. I make my way to the front of the crowd, yelling his name. He spots me and drops his Army-issue duffle, and runs toward me. He swoops me up in his arms, and I know there’s no place in the entire world I’d rather be.

A sudden squeal separates us; we’ve sandwiched Jasmine, and she doesn’t like it.

Joshua steps back and looks at the tiny person in my arms. “This is her? Jasmine?” he murmurs.

“Yes,” I tell him, offering our daughter to him.

He takes her, looking nervous, but relaxes quickly. He rests Jasmine on his forearm and gazes into her vibrant green eyes. It’s amazing to me that she fits there, between his wrist and elbow; my arms aren’t big enough to hold her that way, not even when she was a newborn. “Hi, Jasmine,” he whispers.

She coos in response.

I take half a step back to allow Joshua his moment with his daughter.

“You are the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen. Your mama was right when she told me you were perfect. Those pictures Aunt Kayla took don’t do you justice, though. You’re so much prettier in real life.”

Jasmine offers him a lopsided, toothless grin—yet another quality she inherited from Joshua (the lopsided part, not the toothless).

His face lights up in response. He glances over at me, but can’t keep his gaze away from Jasmine for long. I know the feeling; she demands attention. We’re going to have our hands full when she’s older.

I gaze at the two of them, mesmerized by the bonding of father and daughter. When he speaks the words I’ve seen written in his handwriting so many times over the past year, my heart melts.

“I love you, Jasmine Mae Bennett. More than my own life.”

  • *¨*•.¸¸*¸¸.•*¨*•

 So, it seems to me that this series wasn’t as popular as I’d hoped, so I won’t be doing another story at this time. If you guys decide you want another one, just let me know. You can do that by commenting on any post or shooting me an email to ladybugdaydreams (at) gmail (dot) com.


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Tales on Tuesday: More Than My Own Life {volume 4}

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~August 14, 2002~

“You’re doing great, Katie,” Kayla encourages.

I don’t feel like I’m doing great. I’m exhausted, cranky, and I’ve been pushing for what feels like days.

“Does it hurt?” Kayla’s voice breaks through my thoughts.

“Of course it hurts, Kayla!” I snap. “I’m in the final stages of labor, and my epidural wore off about an hour ago.” I have absolutely zero patience left for asinine questions. Who asks a woman in labor if it hurts?

“I’m sorry about that,” Dr. Ian offers. “I had to turn it off so you’d have enough sensation to push, though.”

“It’s okay,” I mutter, not meaning it even one bit. As nice as he’d been eight months ago, I’d really like to throttle him now.

“You are getting there, though, Katie,” Dr. Ian says. “Every time you push, she gets a little closer. I’ve seen her red hair. I’m confident that you’ll bring her here with just a few more pushes.” He looks over at my monitor. “Okay, you’ve got a contraction coming now. Push, Katie.”

Dr. Ian and Kayla count together to ten—much too slowly for my taste. When they finish, I take a deep breath and peer into the doctor’s eyes. “Red hair?” I ask. If she looks like her father, it’ll be almost too good to be true.

“Yes.” He smiles at me.

That confirmation is enough to give me a second wind.

I push through two more contractions, and during the third, there’s a sudden relief.

“You did it, K!” Kayla exclaims. “She’s here!”

“She’s here?” I whisper, unable to believe it. Thirty hours of labor and two hours of pushing, and she’s finally here. The tears of pain and frustration from before turn to tears of joy as I hear my daughter’s first cry. She sounds perfect.

~August 15, 2002~

Dear Joshua,

You have a daughter! Our little Jasmine Mae is here. She’s gorgeous. Her hair and eyes are the same color as yours, but she has my nose and chin: a perfect combination of the two of us. I’m still in the hospital, but I didn’t want to wait even one day longer than necessary to let you know about her. She made her appearance late last night; I wanted to write to you right away, but Kayla made me get some rest. Jasmine has ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes, and she weighed seven pounds, ten ounces, and was twenty inches long. Kayla took pictures as soon as Jasmine was cleaned up and is at the photo place now getting printouts made so I can include some for you. I know you’ll want to see her.

I wish you could have been here. Kayla did fine, but your sister is no substitution for you. I know that you’re serving our country, though, and I love you for that. Well, I love you simply for being you, but I’m so proud of you for your service.

I love you, and I miss you. Stay safe, and come home to us as soon as you can.


Katie (and Jasmine)

I’m practically crying buckets by the time I finish the letter; the ink is smeared in several places, but I don’t dare rewrite it. The smudges will be silent reminders within the letter, reminding him that he’s my everything. I just miss him so much. What I’ve written is true — I’m incredibly proud of him for serving, but I’m also scared every single day. I panic a little every time the phone or doorbell rings, terrified that it’s going to be someone from the government telling me that I’m a widow. Those thoughts have been in the forefront of my mind the past month, especially as I grew closer and closer to becoming a mother. Now that Jasmine’s here, I suspect they’ll just get stronger and stronger until I lay eyes on my husband again.

~June 16, 2002~

Dear Katie,

She’s perfect, just like I knew she would be. I can’t wait to get home to meet her. Thank you for sending photographs. Thank you for marrying me three years ago, and thank you for being the mother for my daughter.

I love you (both of you). More than my own life.



Next week will bring the end of this story. I hope you’re enjoying it.


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Tales on Tuesday: More Than My Own Life {volume 3}

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Happy Wednesday, everyone. Here’s the next installment of my story. I hope you enjoy it. (And I’ll have a regular, non-fiction post tomorrow or Friday).


~May 18, 2002~

“Thank you so much for helping me with this, Dad. I don’t think I could’ve done it on my own.” I stand back and look at the crib we’ve just built—well, that my dad’s just built; I mostly watched. The crib is the last piece of the nursery to be finished, so as soon as we get the packaging garbage out of the room, it’ll be ready. All we need now is a baby.

“Oh, it was nothing,” he replies gruffly. “There’s an awful lot of pink in here.” He’s looking at the pink and white striped wallpaper behind the crib, the pink dresser (with a pink and white elephant sitting on top, just waiting to be played with—or drooled on), and the white changing table with a pink pad on it.

“Well, she is a girl,” I tell him, “and I’ve always liked pink. I think it looks nice.”

“It does; it does. You did a nice job picking everything out.” My father’s quick to recant his criticism of the room. “It’s just a bit… pink for my taste.”

“That’s because you’re a boy, Dad.” I laugh.

“A boy. Right,” he mutters, chuckling. “Well, I should get going, Kates. I hate to build and run, but Samantha’s going to be up waiting for me.”

“She could have come, you know.” I cradle my protruding belly lovingly.

“Yeah, I know. She just worries that you’re upset that she’s somehow taken the place of your mom or something.”

“What? No, that’s silly. Dad, Mom died when I was two. I don’t even remember her. I hate that I don’t, but that’s just a fact. I’m not upset with you and Sam for pursuing an adult relationship. You did a fabulous job raising me; now it’s your turn to live again.”

“You’re wise beyond your years, Katie. You’re going to make a great mom to that little girl.”

I blush and look down at my stomach. “Thank you, Dad. That really means a lot to me to hear you say that.”

“I mean it. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was true—even if you are my daughter.” I lift my eyes to meet his again and see that his eyes are twinkling.

“I love you, Dad.”

Now it’s his turn to blush. I don’t see that side of him often, but it does come out occasionally. “Yeah, yeah. Love you, too, Kates.”

I take a step toward him and wrap my arms around him, feeling much more like a seven year old child than a twenty-three year old married woman. In the comfort of my father’s arms, tears spring to my eyes. I just want my daughter to have this same feeling with her father one day. She will, I tell myself. Joshua is coming home.

~July 2, 2002~

Dear Katie,

Your due date is getting close, right? I know I can’t be there for any of the major milestones, but I desperately want to be as much a part of the process as I can, considering the distance. We haven’t ‘talked’ about names yet. Do you have any ideas?

I miss you. I can’t wait to get home to see you again and meet our daughter. We’re over halfway done at this point!

I love you. More than my own life.


Like every other letter Joshua sends, I read this one over and over again, folding and unfolding it until the paper’s nearly torn. I always write back to him within an hour of receiving his letter, sending my letters the same day his arrive. He always signs his letters the same, and they’re the most romantic five words in the English language. More than my own life. He loves me more than he loves his own life. It’s humbling.

This time is no different; I scrawl out a response, replying to his question. I only hope that he receives my response and can get a letter back to me before the baby’s born.

Dear Joshua,

Yeah, the due date’s coming up in about 7 weeks. It’s amazing how quickly the time has flown while seeming slow at the same time. The pregnancy part of my life seems like it’s only just begun, and yet is almost over, but the time without you is like a year for every day.

I want you to be a big part of the process, too. I was thinking maybe we could name the baby Jasmine, after my mom, if you don’t have any objections to that. Is there a family name on your side you’d like to see for the middle name?

I miss you, too! I’m so glad the time is over half over. I just pray that you don’t have to go again—at least not for as long.

I love you,


~July 23, 2002~

Dear Katie,

I love the idea of naming her Jasmine for your mother. That’s the most thoughtful name I can imagine. My mother’s grandmother was named Mae; I’ve always been partial to that name. What do you think? Jasmine Mae Bennett? I think it has a nice ring to it.

I love you. More than my own life.


Jasmine Mae… Jasmine Mae… It’s a beautiful name, and I can’t wait to greet her.


Volume four will be up next week, and the week after that, this story will conclude.


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Tales on Tuesday: More Than My Own Life {volume 2}

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I’m posting the next installment of Joshua and Katie’s story on Monday this week instead of Tuesday because I have a homeschool curriculum review posting tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it.

Also, don’t forget that my other story, Check Yes or No, is available in its entirety here on the blog.


~December 17, 2001~

“Thanks for coming with me, Kayla.” It’s the day of my first doctor’s appointment since finding out about the pregnancy, and I couldn’t bear the thought of going alone. If Joshua couldn’t come, his sister Kayla is about as good a substitute as there is.

“It’s no problem, Katie,” she assures me. “I know that no one can ever take the place of Joshua in your life, but I’m honored that you picked me to help you.” She lets go of the steering wheel with one hand and reaches over to pat my shoulder.

Kayla has been a lifesaver the past month. When all I wanted to do was lay in bed and cry, she came over and cooked me breakfast—and then made sure I ate it. When I threw up said breakfast ten minutes later thanks to an intense bout of morning sickness, she was there holding my hair back for me. And when day after day went by with no letter from Joshua like he’d promised, Kayla was there with a sympathetic shoulder.

At the doctor’s office, I fill out all the obligatory paperwork; it’s not long after that when my name is called. The medical assistant seems nice as she takes my vitals, and then tells me that the doctor will be in shortly. I sit silently on the paper-covered table, picking at the hem of my shirt. Kayla watches me worriedly from her perch in the support person’s chair. A moment later, there’s a light knock on the door, and a large, friendly looking man enters. “Hi there, Mrs. Bennett,” he greets me. “I’m Dr. Ian Waters. You can call me Dr. Ian. I prefer keeping things casual.” His smile lights up his eyes, and as I accept his proffered handshake, I notice that he has dimples in both cheeks.

“It’s nice to meet you,” I say, trying hard to focus on the doctor instead of on my heartache.

He turns to Kayla. “Dr. Ian,” he says, shaking her hand, too.

“Kayla James. Sister-in-law,” she explains.

“Nice to meet you, Kayla.”


“So, Mrs. Bennett,” he says, turning back to me, “a little birdie tells me that you’re expecting a baby.”

I want to tell him to call me by my given name, but I don’t. I like the reassurance of being addressed by the surname I share with Joshua. “According to the little white stick I peed on,” I reply, trying not to let my anxiety seep too much further into my tone.

“Well, the first thing I have to say is congratulations.” He grins at me, and I get the feeling that Dr. Ian is the kind of doctor that truly cares about his patients. I can tell from his expression that he loves new babies, too. He looks truly excited for me.

“Thank you.” I do my best to return his smile. It would be a lot easier if I’d heard from Joshua since he left.

“I’m glad you’ve chosen me to be your care provider in this important step in your life. Now, when was the date of your last menstrual cycle? I’ll use that and some measurements from the ultrasound we’ll do today and try to get you a due date for your little peanut.”

I can’t stop from smiling this time. I couldn’t have chosen a better doctor if I’d tried. He seems to be going out of his way to make me feel welcome, and I do. I really do. I can’t wait to get home and write to Joshua about this guy. He’ll be glad to know that I’m being taken care of—as well as our ‘little peanut.’

“Thank you,” I say to the doctor, then give him the date he asked for.

“Oh, so you’re really early along then,” he mutters, looking at what appears to be a color wheel, but without the colors. When he starts rotating the wheel, I realize that it’s actually two pieces of round cardstock stacked up and held together in the center. He stops turning them and looks back at me. “Okay, let’s go on down to the sonogram room.” He offers me a hand, helping me down from the tall table and leads Kayla and me down the hall to a dark room.

Half an hour later, I leave with a due date (August 24th), a video of my little peanut’s heart pulsing (Dr. Ian said it was too early to hear the heartbeat, but that I’d be able to at my next appointment), some still photos to send to Joshua, and a good feeling about my doctor. When Kayla and I get back to my house, I check the mail anxiously, just as I’ve done every single day for the past month. Underneath the electric bill and bank statement is a letter from Joshua. My heart leaps in my chest. I clutch the envelope to my body as I open the door. Kayla follows me inside.

Dear Katie,

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write to you. I’ve wanted to since the day I left, but there’s literally been no time. Things are crazy around here. I know I’ve had a pretty charmed Army existence so far, but I still never thought actually being on the front lines would be so… I don’t even know how to describe it.

How are you? I want to hear everything. Do you go to the doctor soon? I wish I could be there.

I love you… more than my own life.


His letter is short, but I don’t care. At least I know that he’s there and, more importantly, safe. I swallow a lump that’s inexplicably formed in my throat as I read the letter over and over again.

“Everything okay?” Kayla asks after several minutes.

I look up at her, blinking the tears away. I’m not even completely sure whether the tears are happy because I’ve finally heard from Joshua or sad because he’s not here. “Yeah,” I reply, swallowing. “He’s safe.”

Kayla smiles at me. “I’m glad that letter came today. The timing is perfect.”

“Yes, it is.” My mouth stretches into a smile despite the tears still rolling down my cheeks.

“Do you want to stay here tonight? Because you’re welcome to stay with Jeff and me and the boys if you want to.”

She’s made the offer every day, and I’ve never taken it. With Joshua’s letter, I know that I can’t spend the next year wallowing, though. I have to take charge of my life, take care of myself and our baby, and not allow things here to fall apart in Joshua’s absence. “Thank you, Kayla. I’d love to come over tonight.”

“Really?” She looks surprised.

“Yeah. I’ve been depressed long enough. Today was a good day; why not share it with my beautiful sister-in-law and her family?” I smile at her.

“Great! Let’s go then.”

“It’s okay. You go. I’ve got a few things around here to do, so I’ll drive myself over later.”

“Are you sure? That’s not just some excuse to back out again, is it?”

A pang of guilt tugs at my heart. Kayla really has been fabulous to me, and I’ve been really… not fabulous to her. “No, it’s not an excuse. I promise I’ll be there. By driving myself, you don’t have to worry about bringing me home tomorrow.”

“Okay,” she agrees, though she still looks skeptical.

“If I’m not there by dinnertime, I give you permission to come back and take me by force.”

She laughs. “Fair enough. Dinner’s at six.”

“I’ll be there.”

I wave at her from the porch as she drives away, and when I’m alone, I find a piece of stationery from the desk in Joshua’s office. It’s not as pretty as something I’d pick, but it’s nicer than a sheet of notebook paper. Making a mental note to pick up some paper that’s more my personality, I sit in his chair and begin my letter.

Dear Joshua,

I miss you. So much. I’m glad I got your letter today; I went to the doctor earlier, and not having you there was really hard. To know that you’re okay and thinking of me—us—was a bright spot in the day.

My doctor is so nice. His name is Ian Waters, and he likes to be called ‘Dr. Ian.’ He seemed really excited about the promise of a new life.

Kayla came with me, which was good. Not as good as you, but a close second.

Dr. Ian made me an ultrasound video, which is pretty cool. It’s a little hard to tell what’s what, but he made sure I knew so that I could show you when you got home. Because I went to the military clinic, he was exceptionally understanding about our situation. He also printed out some stills from the ultrasound, which I’ll include with this letter for you. He called the baby our ‘little peanut.’ I thought that was pretty cute—and once I saw the ultrasound, very apt. It really does look like a peanut on the screen and in the pictures.

I’m going over to Kayla and Jeff’s tonight. She’s been inviting me often, but I haven’t been yet. I’m actually rather looking forward to seeing Brandon and Brady. They don’t know that they’re going to have a little cousin yet, but I think I’m going to wait until after my next appointment before I tell anyone besides Kayla. I’ve done a bit of reading, and apparently the risk of miscarriage goes down after the twelfth week, which is next month according to Dr. Ian. Oh, he gave me a due date, too—August 24th. Which means our little peanut will be about two months old by the time you get home. I can’t wait for you to see him or her.

As much as I’d love to write to you all night long, I have to go. I promised Kayla I’d be there in time for dinner, and that if I wasn’t, she could come pick me up herself. I don’t want it to come to that!

I love you, too.


I seal the letter with the sonogram printouts in an envelope that matches the paper and carefully print Joshua’s unit’s address on it, then make my way out to the car and over to Kayla and Jeff’s house.



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Tales on Tuesday: More Than My Own Life {volume 1}

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Welcome back to Tales on Tuesday! I so hope you enjoyed my story, Check Yes or No. Starting this week, I’ll be sharing another story I wrote a few years ago called More Than My Own Life. Happy reading.


~September 11, 2001~

“Oh, my God.” I can’t tear my eyes away from the television screen. Black smoke rises from one of the most prominent skyscrapers in the New York cityscape. The blue sky—normally a scene of serenity and happiness in early September—is suddenly daunting. I know what’s coming next, because the television station has been playing it on repeat all morning. “There it is,” I whisper, eyeing the second airplane, which I now know to be United Airlines flight 175. I watch with horror as the plane flies straight into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The shot switches back to the live view of the Twin Towers—what’s left of them, anyway. I don’t even hear the newscaster’s voice anymore. What she’s saying doesn’t matter, not in the grand scheme of things.

“Maybe we should turn it off for a while,” my husband murmurs. He’s been sitting next to me all morning, neither of us able to peel our eyes away.

“Okay,” I agree automatically.

Neither of us move, and the plane flies into the tower again. And again. And again.

~September 25, 2001~

Two lines. Two little pink lines. I don’t know whether to be happy or not. Three months ago, I would have been ecstatic to see the positive pregnancy test. Now I’m not so sure. Joshua and I had been trying to have a baby for six months, but after the terrorist attacks, we decided to take a break because he’d gotten deployment orders from his commanding officer. He’s leaving for Afghanistan on the seventh of October and will be gone for a year—at least. And now I’m pregnant. I sink to the floor next to the bathtub and weep.

~October 7, 2001~

We’re standing in the large gym of a Denver high school. I’m not even sure which one; it doesn’t matter. There are other couples everywhere around us, all in the same situation, but I barely notice any of them.

“I don’t want you to go. I get why you are going, but I want you to be here with me.” I’m not whiny, just sad. I’ve never in my entire twenty-three years been as sad as I am now.

“I know, baby.” Joshua holds me close. “The timing couldn’t be worse. You’re the strongest woman I know, though. You’ll survive.”

“Yeah, I will.” I look up at him with watery eyes. “I’m worried about your survival.”

“I’ll be okay.”

I’m not sure I believe him.

“Soldiers!” a harsh voice hollers from the front of the gymnasium. Everyone in the large, echoing room looks up at General Raymond Daniels, the leader of Joshua’s unit. The soldiers all snap to attention while their spouses and partners stand next to them.

I hear that General Daniels is speaking, but not what he says. I spend these precious moments drinking in the sight of my husband, who I’m not going to get to see for the next twelve months. I memorize every line, every contour, of his face. It takes every ounce of self-control in my small body not to reach up and stroke his face. I settle for clutching his arm and breathing in his scent, which has somehow become part of the uniform he wears.

“Let’s go!” The general’s voice is very commanding; it’s not surprising that he’s in charge—he’s obviously very good at his job.

“Already?” Tears are streaking down my face, reminding me why I didn’t wear makeup today. “You can’t go.” Sobs wrack my body.

“I have to, baby,” Joshua murmurs, and he looks just as heartbroken as I feel. “I’ll write to you every week, though; I promise. All I want you to do is take care of yourself and our baby. And write back to me.” One corner of his mouth pulls up in what could be his trademark smirk, but seems more to me in this moment like a smile he can’t quite pull off.

I throw my arms around him, not wanting to let him go. “I love you,” I whisper in his ear. “Please come back to me.”

“I will. I promise,” he whispers back. “I love you, Katie. More than my own life.”


Thank you for reading. Make sure to come back next week for the next installment of Joshua and Katie’s lives.


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Tales on Tuesday: Check Yes or No {volume 4}

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Welcome back! This is the final installment of Check Yes or No. Later today, I’ll have the complete story up on a separate page of the blog. Just click on “Tales on Tuesday” above my header to find it.

Thanks for reading!

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It had been a normal, uneventful morning at work, and I was just sitting down to lunch with my coworkers. I opened stainless my steel lunch box and pulled out my standard turkey sandwich, baked potato chips, and banana, laying each item out in front of me when the purple paper from Lily’s personalized stationery set caught my eye. I heard the other guys all around me, but their voices and laughter had faded into the background; nothing mattered except for the note from my wife.

I love you, and I wanna be your friend forever.
I’ll never be afraid to take you by the hand.
I know this is how love goes.
Check girl or boy.

My heart stopped, or it felt like it did anyway. The low hum in my ears was replaced by complete silence as I reread the note. Did this mean what I thought it did? Was she…?

I jumped up from my seat, frantically looking for my boss while ignoring my food, but never letting go of that purple sheet of paper. I finally spotted him across the room. Fortunately for me, he was seated near the door, so I ran across the room with the door being my goal, but making sure to stop for just a split second-long enough to shout to him, “Family emergency. I’m taking a personal day for the rest of the afternoon!”

I turned the key in the ignition before I was fully seated in the car. I buckled my seat belt and pulled out of the parking space simultaneously, then sped off in the direction of home. The ten minute drive felt like it took closer to ten hours, and when I finally screeched to a halt outside of our house, I reversed the order of operations from when I’d left work. This time, I was climbing out of the car before I’d turned the engine off. I yanked the key out and hurried up the pathway, throwing the door out of my way. I hurried around the house, looking for Lily, first in the living room then the bedroom, finally finding her in the kitchen.

Breathlessly, I rasped out, “Lily.”

She turned, looking surprised to see me. “What are you doing home?”

I held the note out to her, having never let go of it the entire drive home. “Does this mean…? I mean, are you…?”

Her blue eyes sparkled, and a beautiful smile stretched over her face. “Yes.”

I took the remaining three steps toward her and swept her up in an elated hug, pulling her feet off the ground and spinning her around.


Two weeks before our fifth wedding anniversary, I left another of “our” notes for Lily. Just one line this time: Check white or black. I was purposefully vague, not wanting to divulge my plans for our anniversary. When I returned home from work that evening, the little note was tented on her nightstand, exactly where I’d left it that morning. But now there was a little checkmark in the box next to white. I pocketed the paper and went about life like normal for the rest of the night.

I made the call to the limo company the following morning from my cell phone on the way to work, and reserved a white stretch limousine for the night of our anniversary.

Over the next ten days, I was very busy making sure things would be perfect for that night. I’d arranged for my parents to keep the kids overnight, and purchased a pink ribbon from the drugstore one night, carefully hiding it away in my night table drawer. Finally, the big night was upon us, and my mother came and picked up the kids, wishing us a “Happy anniversary” and “Have a great night.” Her eye sparkled mischievously at those words, and if I hadn’t been so close to my mom, I might have been mortified.

Instead, I just smiled my crooked smile at my mom and we laughed together. “Thanks, Mom. For tonight, but even more so, for being right twenty years ago.”

She leaned in and hugged me, but didn’t say anything more.

The white limousine pulled up exactly on time, and Lily looked appropriately surprised. Then she turned just her head toward me and whispered, “I’m glad I checked white.” A quick wink at me, and then she returned her gaze to the limo.

As she stood on the front porch looking out at the fancy car, I pulled the pink ribbon that I’d stashed in my pocket and wrapped it around her ponytail, tying it into the best bow I could manage; a tribute to the pink bow in her ponytail from the day she’d kissed me the first time.

I still can’t believe that we’ve been together for two decades. Two decades, five years of marriage, and two kids later, and I still gaze into her stunning blue eyes with stars in my own. And to think, it all started with just a little note.


Thank you for joining me in this simple tale of young love. I hope you’ll come back next week when Tales on Tuesday starts a new story: More Than My Own Life, a story of an American soldier deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks and how his wife survives without him during that time.


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Tales on Tuesday: Check Yes or No {volume 3}

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Here’s the third installment of the story. I hope you enjoy it.

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Fifteen years later

I stood in the front of the church, with Marcus and Patrick standing to my left and Pastor French standing to my right. First Jennifer, then Leslie sauntered down the aisle in their lavender dresses, and while they were pretty, neither held my attention. When the two of them were in their spots, the music changed into the traditional wedding march, and my attention was drawn once again to the back doors. I heard the familiar chords and just a few seconds later, Lily appeared in her white dress, her arm linked with her father’s. I was absolutely stunned. I stood there, watching her take small, dainty steps toward me, her smile lighting up the entire room. She was by far the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.

She and her father stopped just out of my reach. Pastor French began talking. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of this man and this woman…” I didn’t hear much past that. My mind kept replaying the note she’d written me back when we were in the third grade.

Do you love me? Do you wanna be my friend?

Checking the “yes” box after Mrs. Rose had returned the note to me had been the best decision I’d ever made, either in my first eight years of life or in the fifteen since. I may not have loved her right away, but I most certainly did want to be her friend. And by starting with that step, we’d grown closer and closer and by the time we were sixteen, it was only natural that we’d start dating. Neither of us were interested in anyone else.

As the pastor droned on, I thought back to a year ago, to the night I’d proposed to her. In a testament to her first note to me — which I’d kept, even after all those years — I repeated the words, changing only one, and tented the note at her place when she’d excused herself to the restaurant’s bathroom.


Do you love me?
Do you wanna be my wife?
And if you do, well, then don’t be afraid to take me by the hand.
I think this is how love goes. Check yes or no.


When she returned and saw the paper there, she picked it up and read it, tears filling her eyes. I stood, walked around the small table, and stooped down on one knee, opening the small box with the engagement ring in it. She didn’t answer at first, and after a moment, I started to feel ridiculous and insecure down there. Finally, she flagged down our waiter and stage-whispered to him, “Do you have a pen I could borrow?”

He handed one to her and she made a mark on the note and quickly returned the waiter’s pen to him. Then she turned back to me and showed me the paper. She had drawn a messy checkmark in the “yes” box.

Elated, I rose to my feet and pulled her out of her chair. “Yes?” I whispered.

“Yes,” she enthused.

“Do you, Peter, take Lillian to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, as long as you both shall live?”

Gazing into the clear blue eyes of the woman I loved, I emotionally choked out, “I do.”


I think back to those days often. The first day I saw Lily, the kiss, the time I chased her around the playground, and her note. The little four line note with two boxes that changed my life. And on those days, the days I specifically remember the note, those are the best days. Those are the days I get in touch with my eight-year-old self and gaze into my gorgeous wife’s eyes before playfully chasing her all over our house. She giggles and screeches, and unlike that day so long ago, by the time we’ve been up and down the hall and then around the bed, I always catch her. And then, well, after I catch her, good times are had by all.

That little note has become the cornerstone of our relationship, of our marriage. It was the first of many passed back and forth between us over the years. Several of our major life events have been revealed to the other using that same basic formula. Even things that didn’t matter so much, the same four-line note was always there, in the forefront of both of our minds.

Check chicken or fish

Check Disneyland or New York

Check comedy or drama

I’ll never forget the day she blew my mind with one particular note.


Next week, we’ll wrap up Peter and Lily’s story. Please join me for that! (And it’ll be posted in the morning since I don’t have any reviews that day.)


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Tales on Tuesday: Check Yes or No {volume 1}

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You might or might not know that I’ve written fiction stories in the past. I’ve done two longer stories (essentially novels, but they’ve never been published outside of the web) and several short stories. I recently shared a couple of these with a friend of mine, and she suggested I share them here on the blog, so I’ve decided to do just that – give new life to old stories, so to speak.

The first story I want to share with you is called Check Yes or No, and it was written for a contest (I won 2nd place). The theme of the contest was “Musical Cues.” Contestants were instructed to choose any song they wanted and use it as inspiration to write a story. I chose George Strait’s Check Yes or No. (I’m not so clever at coming up with titles, clearly.) I’ll share part of the story each week for a few weeks, and when it’s all posted, I’ll make a page with the story in its entirety. I have several stories that I’m excited to share with you here, so when this one is over, I’ll dive right in to the next one – a military story called More Than My Own Life. [Read more…]