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Forever and Always
My Darling Catherine,
How I have longed for you. Your touch, your voice, your enchanting laugh…your perpetual love. Before you left me, you asked me to describe you in one word. After a long time and hard thought I now have your answer: Mine. You are mine and forever will be. Your beautiful oasis blue eyes, frozen in time beneath a sheet of glass in a photo frame, stare at me from the nightstand on would have been your side of the bed, still untouched since I put it there. Your golden ringlets bouncing as you take every leap and bound, physically and metaphorically. Remember my love? Remember the first day? The first day you spoke to me? I would say the first day I saw you, but that would be a lie. I had watched you before. I watched you help the children when they couldn’t quite reach something on the shelves of your father’s toy store. I remember going in and buying those packages of little green toy soldiers, day after day, for a week. Then you finally spoke…
“Don’t you think you have enough?” you asked. Your smooth voice was sweeter than the most satisfying candy.
“I- I- don’t rightfully know…” I replied. I was so nervous. You had finally spoken to me. Not about if I wanted the receipt in the bag, but you wanted to know why I was buying so many toy soldiers.
“You don’t know? Then why waste your money?” your question posed a very strong point. It wasn’t a waste of money in my mind if it gave me an excuse to see you. But how could I answer without embarrassing myself in public?
“I- I- I’m buying them for my nephew.” I said shakily. I knew it was a lie. For my nephew, who was now in his junior year in high school, was too old for little green soldiers.
“Oh how sweet.” You commented as you added the last two prices into the cash register.
“Are you busy later?” I couldn’t believe the words I had just said. The words had a mind of their own. I was just as shocked as you were, Catherine.
“Well… not really. Why?”
“Join me. Join me for a coffee.” Again, I had no idea where these words were coming from. Like a hidden source of energy. Or a hidden spring perhaps, I just didn’t know.
“Well. Alright then.” You began as you handed me my purchase, “I get off at three.”
“That’s not long at all. I’ll wait for you by the door… if you don’t mind?”
“No, not at all. Go right ahead.” Still trying to comprehend the events of the past few minutes, I took a seat on the hand-fashioned bench by the front door of the store. The one and a half hours seemed like less than a minute to me. You were worth the wait, every second of it. You glided over towards me as I grabbed your coat and assisted you in getting it on.
“Why thank you.” You said, I could tell right away that not a soul had done that for you before.
“All my pleasure Miss O’ Lynden.”
“Seeing you know my name, may I know yours?”
“Nathan. Nathan Parks.” I replied as I pulled my own coat over my shoulders. I stuck my hand out for you to shake it, when you did it felt as though a lightning bolt struck my hand with all of it’s might.
“Shall we go?” you asked, smiling ear to ear.
“Of course.” I opened the door for you and walked with you to the café down the street.
You were as nervous as I, on that cold October afternoon. Yet you never let it show. I was the happiest man on earth when you said you gladly accepted my invitation for a second date. Soon the second led to a third, then a fourth, and so on. You loved me, as I did you. We could handle whatever life threw at us. We were set to wed… the most amazing privilege in my life was you saying yes to my proposal. It was on that snowy February day: Valentines Day two years later… that changed our lives. I remember lugging in the decorations for the church. We were getting married in the same church your parents were wed in. Every so often I would look at the clock, waiting for you. I pulled the wedding bands out one last time. I imagined it on your hand, against your bright glowing skin. I imagined how you would look in your mother’s gown you said you had always wanted to wear. The veil concealing your face, the flowers you held in your hands. I was suddenly snapped out of my trance when a stranger burst through the door, covered in snow from head to toe.
“There’s been an accident!” he hollered, his voice rang throughout the church building.
“What happened!?” the minister asked as he rushed to help the stranger.
“A driver was blinded by the snow and couldn’t stop… he swerved and hit a car parked on the side of the road…” he took a deep breath before continuing. “Should I bring in the injured people?” he asked.
“Absolutely, by all means!” the minister said as he rushed to help the stranger lug in the injured driver and passenger of the car that had been hit, the driver that lost control was fine, just a bit shaken up.
“Lay them by the heater.” The minister said lugging in one of the injured bodies. I was minding my own business, preparing for the first day of the rest of my life with my bride. “Nathan!” the minister called, “Bring some blankets… ASAP!” I did as he told me and grabbed the blankets for him. I lugged them over to the two injured persons. I nearly passed out… see that it was you laying there by the heater. You were definitely injured for sure… with crimson blood staining your golden locks, and your blue eyes had a look about them I had never seen before. I stood there in shock, not moving a muscle, the minister grabbed the blankets from my arms. My legs finally gave way and I fell to my knees beside you.
“Catherine!” I exclaimed as I grabbed your hand, not wanting to ever let go. You slowly turned your head in my direction, slowly opening and closing your eyes.
“Nathan… I’m so sorry I scratched your car… I shouldn’t have borrowed it.” I shook my head at your worry of my car. Besides… we both knew it was more than a scratch.
“Catherine… Catherine…” I kissed your hand before continuing, “I don’t care about that piece of junk… you’re all I need!” I said kissing your hand once more.
“But it was brand new…”
“I don’t care. You’re all I care about.” I looked down to see blood seeping through your blanket. “She’s bleeding!” I screamed.
“No I’m not…” you said calmly, “I feel fine, Nathan…” the minister ran over to me.
“Put pressure on it!” he said pushing on the spot. The stranger who helped lug you and your bridesmaid in from the car wreck ran in with a cell phone in hand.
“I called nine-one-one, but they won't be here for some time due to the snow.” Five minutes later an idea came to my mind,
“Catherine, I want to marry you, right here… right now!” I said looking up at the minister. He only looked to you for your approval. You nodded your head eagerly, no matter how much pain it caused you. He stood there at your feet where you were laying on the floor. He was reading out verses from his Bible. I was getting impatient… I was just waiting for the vows. Finally, it came time.
“Do you, Nathan Parks, take Catherine O’Lynden to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“I do… I do with all my heart… I promise to love you… I have loved you since I laid my eyes on you for the first time. And I will continue to love you… for forever and always.” It was now your turn to speak your vows,
“Do you, Catherine O’Lynden, take Nathan Parks to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
“I do… Nathan, I have loved you since you asked me out for coffee that day. I knew it took your every ounce of courage. Not only are you my one and only love, but you’re also my best friend. I too will love you for forever and always.” And with that, you became my wife. I stayed with you. I stayed with you all the time we waited for the ambulance, lying there and talking with you. I could never get tired if your voice.
“Describe me in one word, Nathan.” You asked.
“There isn’t a word powerful enough for me to describe you with just one.” I replied gently caressing your soft hand.
“I love you Nathan. I love you with every ounce of my being. I want you to go and fall in love with someone else.”
“No! There is no other but you! I can't.”
“Yes you can.” You said, your breathing was getting lower, although you weren’t hooked up to a monitor I could tell that your heart rate was dropping slowly. “Just promise me, Nathan…”
“I promise…” I said as I kissed you, tears rolling down my cheeks in the act. A blanket of silence enveloped the room. Around ten minutes later you spoke again,
“Nathan, I will love you… forever and always.”
“I will never stop loving you, Catherine.”
“Forever and always?”
“Forever and always and a day.” I kissed you one last time. I could feel the life draining out of you as I did. You knew… you knew didn’t you? You knew it was your last few precious moments here on earth. Husband and wife for not even an hour, and I was already a widower… I lost my wife, my best friend… my everything. But it was not only I who lost someone dear to me. Your bridesmaid, Laura, also died that day, leaving behind her husband and one year old daughter… I had always hoped we would have a daughter… and have her be the spitting image of her mother. I wrote you this letter, Catherine, to tell you that I know it’s been years since I’ve written to you, but I kept my promise. I’ve found someone. Her name is Aura. She reminds me of you… in the smallest yet largest ways. I love her. I never thought I would be able to say that about anyone else but you. I was wrong. But my heart will always belong to you my darling…
I’ll love you Forever and Always,
Nathan left her this note, on her grave five years later on their anniversary. He never forgot her, but he did end up marrying Aura. They had children, two to be precise… he got the daughter who looked just like her mother, Aura… just like he always wanted. But never did one day go by that he forgot of his first love, Catherine. Every year he left her flowers on their anniversary. And every year he would read the final words on her grave stone:
“…Forever and Always…”