I listen to the rain, pitter-patter. I drink the eggnog. I see the stockings just bought for our very first Christmas. I sit by the lighted tree with those handmade ornaments and all the memories we have already made. Our first dog jumps into the chair with me, to squeeze in beside me.
And I think of moments long-gone. “Oh, it’s only a year ago,” I think to myself. But a year ago? That is long-gone. I can never get it back. I can never live it again. That’s what makes time sweet. That’s what makes it painful.
Before you proposed, you asked me where I wanted it to happen. And when I was a girl, I had dreamed of it taking place in the wide expanse of the desert. But the older I got, and the more I knew you—the sooner my mind changed.
I didn’t want to make more memories at a home where I grew up. I wanted to make a permanent memory somewhere that you loved, somewhere that meant something to you. I wanted to go to your favorite place, a childhood adventure, a spot where I could make an imprint that would start our history together.
I can’t even remember everything about our December of last year. I remember being aggressively ill with the flu. I remember we were exhausted. I remember having chronic pain. I remember waiting impatiently for the moment when you would ask me to marry you.
We had talked about it before, so I knew I wasn’t going to be surprised when you did ask me. I just didn’t know the exact date and I could hardly wait anymore! I was ready. Yes was the overflow of my heart and at the tip of my tongue.
Christmas celebrations were in full swing and I could tell that you were preparing your proposal to me. I knew it was coming soon. On the 21st, you became very ill so all the festivities and all your plans had to stop. That 24 hour bug sucked everything out of you, and I couldn’t wait until you were all the way better.
Thinking back to these things makes me smile. Because the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Life is made up of moments—monotonous, wonderful, routine, magical–and this life thing just keeps going. It doesn’t stop for anyone.
The fact that I was exhausted, enduring chronic pain while you came down with the flu just 48 hrs before you asked me to marry you is quite special in it’s own way. It tells me that we are in the middle of life and it’s full of flaws, but we can still incorporate special memories anyway. And they don’t have to be elaborate, they just have to happen.
I knew that the proposal was coming on a Tuesday, because once you were feeling better from the flu, you told me that on that day–on Tuesday– you were going to take me to your favorite place. Your favorite place could only mean one thing.
On Tuesday morning, we made gingerbread houses and you forced yourself to be calm–but you failed miserably. You knew what was coming and you were so nervous. I think you may have been working up your courage all day. And let’s not forget that you were still very weak from being sick.
You gathered all your courage and took me on that walk. It was a beautiful day, the trees were rustling and your childhood forts were still in a shape of some kind. And we climbed over the gate and walked over the old bridge, the Anne bridge, because any bridge can be the bridge from Avonlea.
We walked along the creek banks and looked at your old childhood home. And this was a perfect place to make an imprint. This was the perfect place to start our history together. And our conversation was awkwardly piecing together which is so unlike our casual, fluid banter. You were nervous. And I was excited.
The outline of that ring box was so clear through your jacket pocket and you didn’t even know it. And Toby, the spirited trouble-maker dog, got in your way. You washed your hands in the creek, because you wanted to be sure they were clean before handling the ring box.
But then it came out. Those dear words about none of this being your favorite place. I was your favorite place and you wanted to spend the rest of your days with me. And I wanted that too. I wanted you. The yes could finally spill over and fill the air.
And there we were. The first imprint was made. You pulled out the storybook you had written and illustrated for me and we read it after your proposal instead of during, which was your original plan. But who needs it to happen just right? It happened, and now, here we are. And I love you more now, then I did before.
“If I could go back”…the thought starts…but you can’t, Sierra. You can’t go back. You can’t take it all in one last time. It has already happened. You can’t go back and enjoy the moment more fully before telling others. You can’t even jump back for one second to feel his relieved hug, the one he gave you after you said yes. The yes that had waited a thousand times before being uttered. You can’t go back. That’s what makes time sweet. That’s what makes it painful.
But I’ll tell you what you can do. You can spend the rest of your Christmas season enjoying every last first you possibly can with your husband. You can remember the initial imprint with joy and think of all the imprints you have made since then. You can see each new day stretch before you and live within it fervently. You must count it all–every last imprint–and be joyful. This is your life. This is your story.
Merry Christmas, my dear. You are my most treasured friend. You are my husband.