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