Jesus she looked good. She looked so damn good. She was hurrying across the street, hair gathered up in that messy construction he loved. It never ceased to amaze him that the very moments she uttered how unattractive she felt he was quietly admiring her beauty. He knew this would be one of those moments.
As she approached she caught his eye and grinned as if she knew one hell of a juicy secret. He loved that look. It was a toss up between that and her open mouthed ear to ear grin that appeared when she forgot about her newest worry and just let go. It was also one of his favorites and he wished he saw it more often.
Today she was wearing that skirt he loved. He could tell she felt uncomfortable as she tugged at the seams by her hips and then regularly tried to smooth away imaginary inconsistencies in the fabric. He couldn’t wait to run his hands up under that skirt and grab the bare skin of those hips. The thought of it made him wish he hadn’t suggested dinner and that they had stayed home instead. This would be worth it though and he smiled at the thought of what was about to happen.
He was smiling. She loved that look. It was worth the wait. All of those parties and family events over the years that she attended alone. Having someone now who was so happy to see her, to be with her, who she loved like she did, it still felt like a surprise every day. She normally hated going out during the week preferring to curl up on the couch but they were celebrating after all. And with the risk of falling into a rut swallowed up by her terry cloth bathrobe she quickly agreed.
Almost by his side she tugged at the waistband of her skirt. This was the first time she had worn it and she was sure she looked ridiculous. It skimmed snugly over her hips and rippled in places it should have been smooth. She told him so when he encouraged her to buy it but he insisted she needed to wear things that fit. Apparently he was right. She had gotten several compliments that day. Still she fussed with it as she greeted him with a quick kiss and a long hug outside of the restaurant.
As she stood there with her hands around his neck laughing the way she did when they saw one another he put his hands on each of her cheeks and smiled. Nodding towards the entrance of the restaurant he grabbed her hand and as the door swung open he whispered in her ear, “you’re my favorite.”
For a few moments she stood there stunned. Standing before her were some of the most special people she had met and connected with over the past thirty years of her life. Co-workers, classmates, mailmen, doctors, family and friends all stood there smiling at her, glasses raised ready to toast.
Stepping towards everyone she felt him squeeze her hand. She turned and opened her mouth to ask what this was about but was swallowed up by the crowd before she had a chance.
What followed was one of the best nights of her life. As she reminisced and laughed and introduced folks to one another she marveled at what it felt like to have some of the best parts of her life stretched out before her. It was overwhelming and life affirming at the same time. She felt so much joy and love and as the evening came to an end she was sure she was floating.
Once the last guest said goodnight her husband led her to a table for two and sat down. Taking her hands in his he quietly explained that over the past several months he had watched her turn herself inside out about any number of things including the friendships she had recently lost and the loneliness she felt because of it. He continued by citing examples where she had doubted the kind of person he knew she was. Although he felt she had come a long way there were still moments when he would find her sitting, sad, her mind locked on some faraway place. He needed her to know how much she meant to people. He needed her to understand how much love she had encountered and how rich her life really was and this evening was his chance to show her.
She sat there listening and as she wiped away her tears and brushed her hands on the folds of her skirt she thought of how lucky she was. She loved this man and more than anything, she trusted him. He was right. She had been looking so long at the dark, she let it erase almost any memory of the light. It was time to let go and make peace. Doing so was the only way to make room for more of the people she had spent her birthday with tonight. This man. This lovely man had reminded her of all of the joy she had encountered right when she needed it the most. Sitting there she scrambled to think of a way she could adequately express her gratitude but before she could decide on anything he had one more surprise.
Standing up he motioned for her to stand with him. Taking her in his arms she heard the beginning notes of the Beatles song, “Here Comes The Sun.” One by one a small group of musicians gathered and she found herself dancing with her husband until the sun came up over the horizon. It was the most special thing that had ever happened to her and as they drove home she wept with the magnitude of what he had done.
Once home he handed her a small box. Inside of it was a delicate gold necklace with a tiny gold charm. It was a pair of ballet slippers to remind her that even when it felt like life was forcing her to stay on her toes, she always had the opportunity to dance.