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!
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.