Through the Years

Jay P. Gray

E-mail: jaypgray@yahoo.com

Site Disclaimer

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Disclaimer: This story resulted from one sentence that kept running through my head. Guess that would make it an original story and belonging to me.

Language: Amazingly there are no bad words. I think they all ran away from home. (g)

Sex: Nothing explicit. Sort of the fade to black type.

Acknowledgements: First, to my good buddy Packer - SMOOCH! Thanks for reading my small offering and giving me invaluable feedback. Second, thanks to Julie Dragon for graciously allowing the smaller version of my story to be posted on her site. To one of my fave writers (you know who you are) for their kind assistance and generous donation of a certain line. And to all my friends, especially, thanks for the support.

If you like the story, you can write and let me know. If you donít like it, you can still write and let me know. Email me at jaypgray@yahoo.com.

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I knew. Even before you came into my life I knew. I knew that one day I would find you. I don't know how or why I knew, I just did. Now I lay here beside you, amazed still that fortune smiled my way.

With feather light touches, I tenderly brush my fingers over your face, gently moving your bangs out of the way, touching your eyes, your nose, and your lips. You stir slightly, smiling softly in your sleep. Not wanting to awaken you, I slowly remove my hand and simply gaze upon your face. Again, as I marvel at the wonder that is you, I think back to the day you came into my life.

I was rushing down the hallway of the office building where I worked, not really looking where I was going, when I found myself coming to a complete and abrupt halt as I ran smack into the door of the elevator. I dropped everything that was in my arms, and bounced back a couple of steps. "Ouch," I said as my hand went immediately to my forehead to gingerly rub the knot I could already feel forming.

As I squatted down to pick up my things, I heard this voice ask. "Are you okay?" Looking up I gazed right into the softest, most gentle eyes I had ever seen. They were the most amazing color, kind of a mix between hazel and green and framed in a halo of auburn hair.

At that moment those eyes were expressing a look of concern, although I have seen them express many other emotions over the years.

Standing, I replied. "Yes, I'm fine, just a slight dent in my pride."

We both stood and gazed at each other for a couple of moments before the elevator doors opened and I stepped inside. As the doors closed, I found myself watching the slight sway of your hips as you continued on your way. ĎGirlí, I told myself, Ďyou really need to be paying attention to where you're going.í

As I rode in the elevator down to the lobby, my thoughts couldn't help but turn to those soft eyes. ĎDummy,í I said as I smacked myself on the forehead, which turned out to NOT be a good idea considering it had just met an elevator door. ĎYou didn't even say thank you.í Thinking that if she worked in this building, I'd get another chance to see her and say thanks, I set the idea aside for the moment. As the elevator doors opened, I shook my head slightly, grabbed my keys out of my jacket pocket and headed to my car in the parking deck.

A couple of weeks went by before we ran into each other again - literally. I swear I really do need to pay attention when I'm walking somewhere. Laughing softly you once again asked me "Are you alright?" and then said, "We've got to stop meeting like this."

Sheepishly I grinned back at you. "I'm fine, just another slight dent in my pride. I'm really not usually this accident prone."

Laughing you said, "Maybe the Fates are trying to tell us something."

"Maybe," I said.

You gazed at me with this mischievous look, grinned, then turned to walk away.

"Wait!" I called. You looked back towards me with a quizzical expression and a raised eyebrow. "I don't know your name," I said.

"Jaime," you replied. "Jaime Walters." You stepped back up to me and held out your hand. Reaching out and taking it, I said,"Taylor Compton." We stood there for another moment or two, still holding hands and looking into each other's eyes.

Looking a bit reluctant you said, "Well, I guess I'd better be going."

Before I knew it I was asking you, "Can I call you sometime? Take you out for a cup of coffee?"

You kind of smiled that soft smile that I've come to know so well, fished a card out of your pocket and wrote your number on the back.

Handing it to me you said, "I'm free Saturday night." Giving me a wink, you turned once again and headed on your way. I looked at the face of the card, noting that you were VP of Marketing for a publishing company. One I was very familiar with, having several of their books. As I turned to walk on down the street, I know I had a huge smile on my face.

What I didn't know at the time was that you had turned to watch me until I walked out of sight.

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Our first date, the initial cup of coffee that I had proposed, turned into lunch the next week and dinner a scant day later. Not much more time passed after our fourth date before we were moving in together. We had gone house hunting and had lucked into this beautiful home with two huge bay windows. You had mentioned once how you loved houses with that type of windows, so when we found that one and I saw the delight on your face, I knew I had to get it for you. So I contacted the owner, and made arrangements for us all to meet. Shortly thereafter we both signed our names on the dotted line at the bank, and the house became our home. I have to admit to feeling a sense of peace when I stood in that house that first time. Somehow I knew then that we would have many, many wonderful years together there.

As I think back over our life together, I remember a lot of the good times, and there were many. I remember our first kiss, soft and almost shy in its intensity. The time I saw you first cry during a movie where the two lovers finally got their chance made me realize the softness of your heart. And I can safely say that the first time we made love made my heart so full of joy that I thought it would burst. One of the tenderest moments I remember is the first time you held me as I cried over some memory that surfaced during the night. You gently rocked me and softly murmured that all would be okay. That simple gesture from you really struck a chord deep inside of me.

There were some rocky times as well. Thankfully these were few. One argument we had was over the color to paint the walls in the living room. Such a stupid thing to argue over really and it made me realize that a compromise could be reached in any situation. I realized that talking our way through our problems was much better than trying to out stubborn each other. And we both knew that the bone deep love we had would carry us through. That and the promise we had made to each other in the beginning of our relationship to never go to bed hurt or angry with each other. The next morning we'd each head out for our day after a hug and a kiss with all forgiven.

And, at the end of the day, we'd come home and ask each other "How was your day?" I hope you knew how much the tender and heartfelt hug you gave me meant when I'd had a tough day. And, I hope you knew how much love was in the one I'd give you. Sometimes hugs were given without words being spoken. We knew that none were necessary.

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Remembering birthdays as time always spent together with your family. No matter what was going on. Though I knew your family would always celebrate your birthday, I felt very honored that they remembered mine as well. I loved this about them. I had never had a family. I grew up in an orphanage and never knew who my parents were. I was found on the doorstep, along with a note pinned to the blanket I had been wrapped in. Written on the note were my first name, (I took my last name from one of the caretakers at the orphanage who always took a bit of extra time with me), date of birth and a small paragraph. My parents had written that they felt they were too young to give a child a good home and were leaving me in their care. In the note they had written their hopes that maybe some nice family would adopt me and give me a good home.

I was given their note and the blanket when I left the orphanage. The blanket I keep stored in my cedar chest. I keep the note tucked safely inside of my wallet. Sometimes Iíll take it out and gaze at it and wonder if they ever thought about me over the years. A little part of me always hoped that they regretted their decision. I donít know if they are even still alive. I guess Iíll never know if they did or didnít.

On Saturdays, I used to sit and watch as people came and left with some of the other children. I soon learned that these kids were being adopted and going to live in a new home. Iíd cry myself to sleep at night, wishing with all my heart that I would be one of those children someday. That someone would see me, love me immediately and take me home with them. No one ever did.

So I grew up in the orphanage and left when I turned 18. I found an apartment using money I had saved from a part-time job I had gotten at a movie theatre. I stayed there until I graduated from college and went to work at a small family-owned accounting firm. Even though I was alone, I wasnít lonely. At least I didnít know I was until I met you. I had resigned myself to a solitary life even though it seemed something kept trying to tell me that there was someone special out there for me and Iíd find her when my heart was ready.

I had figured out when I was 15 that I was attracted to girls. My best friend at the orphanage helped me figure that out. Her name was Toni, she was 16 and had the prettiest brown eyes. Together we learned about the wonders of love and of loving another woman. She left the orphanage a year before I did. We kept in touch for awhile, but as happens sometimes with friends we eventually lost touch with each other when our lives headed in different directions. I missed her terribly and was always grateful for her friendship and for the time we had together.

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Once I met you and became part of your family, holiday celebrations became very special to me - birthdays most of all. At the orphanage, the caretakers tried to make our birthdays our own special day but having your own family just makes the day special in a much different way. While I was proud to receive all my gifts, Iím proudest to say that even the simplest gift from you meant the world to me. But the absolute best gift of all was the way your face would light up when you'd open your present from me.

One of my most cherished memories of those days is the smile that lit your face when you opened the box and found my ring for you. And the surprised delight as I knelt on one knee and asked you to become my wife. That moment is still a treasured memory held close to my heart.

It was your birthday and we had gone into the living room, after returning from dinner, to unwrap your presents. Your family gave you some nice gifts. (One very interesting gift from your sister weíd have to discuss later.) I have to admit I was a little anxious as I waited for you to get to the gift I had for you. Even though I was nervous and trying hard not to fidgit, I felt pretty proud of myself at finally getting up enough nerve to ask you to marry me.

I had wrapped the box with the ring in a series of boxes, each one bigger than the one before. I guess I wanted to do something just a bit different than getting down on one knee and thrusting my hand out with the ring box in it. I just knew that you wouldnít mind having to Ďdigí for your present once you saw what it was.

I knelt down on the floor, (cool move I thought. Iíd already sort of be on my knees when you opened your present), reached for the box by the end table then scooted me and the box over to you, grandly presenting it to you. "Happy Birthday Jaime!"

Leaning over you gave me a kiss then proceeded to rip the paper off the box. You never were one for being neat when opening gifts. I, on the other hand, was a bit of a neatnic, unwrapping the paper slowly so as not to rip it.

You laughed when you found another wrapped box where you then did the same ripping thing. Then when you found the third box I noticed an eyebrow went up. I remember thinking ĎIím glad I kept it down to four boxes.í

I reached my hand in and helped you bring out the last box, watching with a bit of anxious anticipation as you unwrapped it. With shaking fingers you slowly lifted out the small box tucked inside. By this time I was in the classic pose. I took the box from your hand, opened it and took out the diamond and blue sapphire ring.

Holding the ring with trembling fingers, I took a deep, calming breath and asked the most important question of my life. I felt my eyes begin to tear as you looked from the ring to me then back to the ring. There was a look of such hope shining from your eyes. At that moment, I knew I had made the right decision. One I would remember and be proud of all my days.

"Jaime, Iíve looked for you all my life. I know my heart will never know a truer love and I will be eternally grateful if you would do me the honor of becoming my wife." I reached for your left hand, lifted it up, and slid the ring on the proper finger. I then softly kissed your fingers and gave you my heartfelt, silent promise to be the best wife to you that I knew how to be.

With tears falling from your eyes, you placed both your hands on either side of my face and gave me a kiss that could only be taken as a ĎYesí. I was glad though when you followed that up with a verbal one.

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Christmas time is another favorite memory. My heart always filled with pride and love at the way your family always made the journey to spend Christmas Day with us, even though it would be easier for us to go to them. Your mom told me once that this was one of her favorite gifts to give her daughter. Her willingness to give you even the smallest chance at happiness is one of the many reasons why your mom means the world to me to this day. Not to mention all of your family's willingness to continue to love and accept that you are a lesbian, and acknowledging our relationship as a real family.

And, I know you'd laugh if you knew that my face still turns red when I recall the kiss I get on New Year's Eve. The one that curls my toes and makes my knees go weak. The one from being "trapped" under the mistletoe you always hung just inside the front door.

But, the best memory of all, the one that brings me many warm and wonderful feelings, is the night you told me you were expecting our first child. My heart still feels like it will explode as I recall that night. I had come in after a long day at workÖ

Dropping my briefcase onto the hall table, I looked up to see the dining room softly lit with candles and you standing there with your hands on the back of my chair.

"Hi. How was your day?"

"Tough," I replied. "I had forgotten how stressful breaking in a new secretary could be." My longtime secretary at the accounting firm where I worked had left to get married and would be moving away.

Giving me a hug, you then took my hand and led me over to the chair you had been standing behind.

"Poor baby, have a seat and let me get dinner on the table. We can eat then Iíll give you a nice massage so you can relax."

While you were in the kitchen, I noticed the light scent of vanilla, my favorite. I thought that was so you, sometimes you could sense when Iíd be having a difficult day and Iíd come home to find a little extra touch in something you had done. Like today, with the vanilla scented candles all around.

As we ate dinner, I noticed you looking at me from time to time with this twinkle in your eyes. "You look pleased about something," I stated.

"Oh, I am. Iím just happy to have you home. How about I give you a nice, relaxing massage after dinner?"

"Thatíd be nice. My body is weary." As I ate my dinner, my mind and my body began to look forward to the massage. You did love to give me massages. I figured that was the reason for the twinkle in your eyes. Little did I know that wasnít what it was about at all.

As you picked up our plates to take into the kitchen, you said, "Why donít you go on up and get comfortable? Iíll be up as soon as I put these in the dishwasher and the leftovers in the fridge."

"Ok, you sure you donít need a hand?"

"Nope, Iím good. Go on, be sure to leave your shirt off, Iíve already got the oil warming."

My muscles seemed to do a little happy dance at that thought. I headed up the stairs, shedding clothes as I went. Well, shedding only as far as taking them off. I had learned long ago that you really frowned on clothes being dropped where they came off.

Stepping into the bedroom, I noticed that you had also placed vanilla scented candles in the bedroom. ĎBoy, I thought, you must have sensed that I had a really tough day. I have to remember to properly say thank you.í Grinning at the thought, I proceeded through the bedroom where I placed my discarded clothes in the hamper and stepped into the bathroom. I took a shower, dried off, and brushed my teeth. Naked I headed back into the bedroom where I laid face down on the bed in preparation for the promised massage.

I was almost asleep when I felt the bed dip as you got on and straddled my hips. My brain fuzzily registered that you were sans clothes too. Soon your warm hands begin to lightly massage my shoulders. As the warm oil began to seep into my tired muscles, I felt you place a brief kiss on the top of my head. All I could do at the moment was emit a deep, rumbling groan as your fingers worked on my tired muscles.

"You know, I love giving you a massage. Your skin is so soft, feels as soft as a babyís bottom."

"Hmmm" I muttered. "I love when you give me a massage."

"I know. You purr almost like a BABY kitten. Sometimes I think you do."

"Uh huh" I mumbled with my face in the pillow. Her touch is magic. I was beginning to feel very relaxed.

"Yep, Iíd say that a BABY kitten and you would have a lot in common in the purring department."

"Hmmmmmm" was about as articulate as I could get at the moment. Have I mentioned that she gives REALLY great massages?

"Yep, youíre almost as grouchy as a BABY bear when youíve had a tough day."

I was so relaxed that I let that grouchy part go without comment.

"You growl too. Iíd swear you growl just like a BABY tiger."

It finally penetrated my fuzzy mind that you had put emphasis on the word "Baby" more than once.

I turned over almost dumping you off of me and stared at you in amazement. "Are you telling meÖ?"

Smiling that soft smile of yours that I love so well you said, "Yes."

"Weíre going to have a baby?"

Looking down at me with tears shining in your eyes, you simply shook your head.

We had been trying to have a baby. You and I had talked with my best friend Toni and her partner Beth and the four of us had then spoken with Bethís brother Jeff. We both wanted our children to look like a combination of the two of us and Jeff had my dark brown hair coloring and eyes the same shade as yours.

I had finally run into Toni again a few years back. She and her partner Beth had walked into the firm where I worked one day looking for an accountant for their small business. To say Toni and I were both shocked would be putting it mildly. However, it was a very pleasant shock. It seemed like no time had passed at all since we had been in the orphanage together.

Iíd thought of Toni often over the years and wondered if she had found that special someone. I was glad to see that she had. Both our wives know that Toni and I will always hold a special place in each otherís hearts. We were each otherís first. They also know that my heart now is with you and Toniís with Beth. Toni and Bethís business grew and so did the friendship between the four of us. Weíd often get together on the weekends and talk about having children one day.

Fortunately Jeff had very graciously donated to Ďthe cause" as they say. I would have to call them all tomorrow and tell them the wonderful news but tonight was just for you and me.

I laid you gently on your back, placing my head on your stomach. Reaching up, I rubbed your stomach with a light, almost reverent touch, truly amazed that a life was forming inside. I whispered, "Weíre going to be moms."

"Yes, we are."

You were running your fingers through my hair and I felt you give a gentle tug. I raised my head up, gazing at you with emotion filled eyes. Leaning up I lightly kissed you on your lips."Youíre going to be a wonderful mother."

I loved the way you smiled at me then. I had heard about the special "glow" that pregnant women were supposed to have and I can honestly say that it was definitely shining from your eyes at that moment.

They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. I saw mine in your eyes that night.

"I hope we have a girl," I said. "I want her to look just like you."

You lightly stroked my face with your fingers. ""I love you Taylor."

"I love you too." And with my heart full of love for you, my wife, and the awesome feeling of such a wonderful gift, I proceeded to gently show you how much your gift to me meant.

With my never knowing who my parents were, my being able to give a child a warm and loving home was important to me. (I didnít fully understand how deep those feelings ran in me until that night.) Knowing this, you and I both made sure that our children knew they were always wanted, as well as unconditionally and completely loved.

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It was during one of our visits to the doctorís office where we both received abit of a surprise. Okay, it was one hell of a surprise.

We were looking at the picture taken during the ultrasound and about all I can say is that I know I had to have this look of total shock on my face. My mouth kept opening and closing as if I was a fish. Nothing would come out. No sound whatsoever. I just stared. I couldnít believe it! We were looking at TWO babies!

I wrapped my arms around you and pulled you gently to me. "Jaime, there are two of them!" I held up two fingers. "Two babies! Our one baby has turned into two! Double babies!"

Laughing, you said, "Yes, so it seems."

I remember thinkingÖ ĎOh boy, weíre in for it now!í

The doctor moved the scanner over your stomach, showing us where the babiesí heads were. She asked us "Do you want to know the sex of the babies now or do you want to wait?"

I looked down at you with a question in my eyes. "I do, if you want to." Nodding your head yes, we both looked up and the doctor showed us that one was a boy and one was a girl.

I had a sudden thought. "Jaime, we only picked out a name for one baby."

We had thought Jessica Taylor Compton if it was a girl and Ryan Walter Compton if it was a boy. You had decided that youíd like for our children to have my last name. I wanted them to have your last name but you convinced me (wonderfully I might add) that my last name would be better. You said you liked the way the names sounded with Compton. Who am I to argue with the mother of my children?

You smiled at me and said, "Well, since weíre having two babies, one of each actually, we can use both names."

"Ok with me." Iíd have given you anything at that moment.

You told me later how cute you thought I was being all flustered at the doctorís office. What can I say? Finding out you were having two babies instead of one would fluster anyone. Thatís my story and Iím sticking to it.

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There are many, many memories of our children through the years. Our daughterís first date comes immediately to my mind. I thought Iíd never make it through that night. I was SURE I wouldnít make it through that night.

Jessica came bounding down the stairs hollering "Mom, I canít find my new blue sweater and Johnís going to be here any minute."

Coming out of the kitchen, you yelled back. "Look in the laundry room!"

"Got it! Thanks Mom, youíre the greatest!"

We both watched as she ran back up the stairs, two at a time, sweater in hand. I gave you a look that said Ďitís those long legs she got from you.í

Looking over at me, your eyes twinkling, you smiled and said, "Are you ready for this?"

Sighing, I said, "No. Iím not ready for her to be old enough to be dating. Iím still working on Ryanís first trip away from homewith the school band. That seemed like a long way to go for a football game."

"Sheís sixteen Taylor. "

"I know," I replied. Thinking to myself that I still wanted her to be that little pig-tailed girl who had come crying to me when she had fallen while roller-skating and scraped her knee. I had been Ďtalkingí to myself all day trying to get my mind wrapped around the fact that she wasnít. The "talk" was still in progress.

The doorbell rang making me jump slightly. "Iíll get it!" I said. Standing up from the chair I had been sitting in, I headed for the door.

Opening it, I found John, my little girlís date, standing there dressed in dark jeans, dress shirt and tie. "Hi Ms. Compton. How are you this evening?"

"Hello John, Iím fine. Come on in. Jessicaís not quite ready. She should be down in a minute or so. Letís have a seat in the living room."

"My dad is waiting in the car to take us to the movie. Iíll go tell him weíll be a few minutes."

I held the door open watching him run to the car and speak with his dad. Coming back onto the porch he said, "Dad said no problem, he said heíll just wait in the car for us."

Johnís parents are terrific people who we met the same afternoon we met John. Jessica had invited him to our home one day after school. John had asked her to the movies and she had told him that he would need to meet her parents first. She told us she had already spoken with him about her having two moms and he had replied he had no problems with us being a gay couple. That had scored major points for John, especially with me. Jessicaís feelings had already been hurt by one young man who had found out her parents were lesbians. He had immediately broken his date with her. My heart had really hurt for her over that. I knew, though, that both our children might face that type of situation when they became old enough to start dating.

For this reason, we both were greatly relieved that John didnít have a problem with our being lesbians. Neither, it seemed, did his two dads. They had driven their son over so they could meet us. You and I had liked both men immediately, and had sat down with them over coffee and gotten acquainted. We were pleased to find that they both were a bit "old-fashioned" when it came to how their son treated his dates.

John and I both went into the living room and sat down, me in my chair and John perched on the edge of the couch.

I looked up when I heard Jessica coming down the stairs. She was dressed in black jeans, black ankle high boots with low heels and of course, her blue sweater. It really struck me then, that my little pig-tailed girl was, indeed, growing up and going on her first date. I had stood up when John did and found myself suddenly sitting back down when my knees threatened to buckle.

"Mom, are you okay?" Jessica asked. "You look a little pale."

Swallowing the lump that seemed to form in my throat I said, "Iím fine. What movie are you two off to see?"

"That one with Angelina Jolie where she goes after treasure...Tomb Raider..."

"Thatís a good one. Your mother and I have seen it."

John spoke up then, "Ms. Compton, my dad said that if it was okay with you, it was okay with him if we went for a shake after the movie. He said he would make sure we had Jessica home by eleven."

"Thatís fine. " Although Jessica had not asked, she knew I would be up waiting for her to come home. "You two have a good time."

"Thanks Mom. Weíll see you later."

As soon as the door closed behind them, you came into the living room and simply wrapped your arms around me. We stood there for a few minutes before I sighed and said, "Iím okay."

"I know, and I know how tough it is for you that your little girl is not so little anymore. Come on into the den, weíll cuddle on the couch and watch a movie. Iíll even make you popcorn with lots of butter."

I felt a little better at that. I loved popcorn loaded with butter. You might even say I liked a little popcorn with my butter.

We were still together on the couch watching the late news when we heard a car pull into the driveway. We heard the front door open and close then Jessica called out "Mom? Mother?"

"Weíre in the den." I yelled back. I heard her heading this way and sat up from where I had had my head in your lap.

Walking into the den she sat down on the end of the couch. "Iím home."

"Hi honey. Did you have a nice time?"

"I had a great time. Mr. Jackson was terrific. He stayed in the car and read while we were in McDonaldís. Then he drove us home. John walked me to the door then asked if he could kiss me goodnight. Looking at us with a shy smile, she said it was a very nice kiss.

I had to hand it to John, he certainly had manners and scored big time with me with his walking Jessica to the door. The kiss thing I decided my mind would work on in the morning. It was still on overload from the dating thing.

"Well, good night Mom, Mother." Leaning over Jessica gave me a hug and you a kiss on the cheek. "Iíll see you both in the morning."

"Good night sweetheart." We both said at the same time. I looked over at you and gave you a relieved smile.

As hard as it was to believe, I had survived our daughterís first date night.

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Thinking of that night got me to remembering when you were teaching Ryan how to drive. Now that was something to experience! I have to admit wondering if Ryan would survive the lessons. Although it was perfect that you were the one who played the parent-teacher for the driving lessons.

You always had lots more patience with that sort of thing. Although Iím sure even your seemingly infinite supply was tested a time or two. The one funny thing that pops into mind is when you were teaching him how to turn a corner. Though you had told him to watch out for the cars on his left, it had slipped his mind to watch out for cars on his right and he damned near sideswiped a car. I remember my having to replace the door handle and swearing I could still see the imprint from your fingers. Iím sure that door handle had to have been your best friend for at least an hour after the near collision turn.

I thought about it, I really did, but decided caution was the better part of valor and refrained from teasing you about Ryanís driving skills. It wasnít long after that little episode though that both Jessica and Ryan found themselves signed up for Driverís Education at their high school.

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The years passed by and before we knew it, the time had arrived for them to head off to college. They had both chosen professions that were near and dear to their hearts and ours as well. We were tremendously proud of them.

Our daughter had wanted to become a veterinarian ever since she was five years old and had begged to keep a stray kitten she found looking half-starved in our back yard. Soft touch that I am, I stayed up that night and all the next day coaxing the kitten through the rough part, wanting desperately to not disappoint our daughter.

The little bit of fur was tough though. She survived despite all the odds. We named her BK for "brave kitty". I know itís a silly name but our daughter was only 5 after all. BK and our daugher were inseperable. The cat lived with us until she was 17 when she simply went to sleep one night and never woke up. We buried BK in the backyard by the big oak tree where she and Jessica would sit and swing for hours while our daughter read.

Our sonís decision for his profession came about when he was 12 years old and lost his best friend to leukemia. He decided then and there to become a pediatric doctor. He wanted to help find a cure for the disease so other kids wouldnít have to lose their best friends. We were all heartbroken when Jason died and did our best to help our son and Jasonís family through his loss.

Both our children loved us dearly but Ryan was closest to you. You were the one he mostly looked to during that time. I took no offense. We each had a child who felt closer to one parent than the other. I was the one Jessica came to when she was feeling down while you were Ryanís source of comfort.

I had come home from work to find both of you sitting in a chair in the kitchen and Ryan wrapped around you crying his heart out. Panicked I dropped everything in my arms and rushed over to you both. "Whatís wrong?"

Ryan lifted his head and looked up at me, tears flowing heavily from his eyes. He didnít say anything, just put his head back down on your shoulder and continued to cry.

"He just found out that Jason has leukemia."

Jason and Ryan had been friends for nearly 7 years. Jasonís family had moved into the house next door and the two boys had bonded almost immediately. My heart broke for our son. I knew what the odds were for children after being diagnosed with leukemia. One of the kids in the orphanage where I grew up had died from it. It seemed like they were there one day then gone the next.

"Jasonís parentís gave us the news this afternoon. They came over when they saw Ryan walking up our driveway. They had just gotten home with Jason from the doctorís office and didnít want Ryan to learn about Jason at school first."

I wrapped my arms around my wife and son and we all cried for the loss facing both Jasonís family and our own.

This would not be the only loss our family would suffer over the years but this is the one that hit the hardest. Itís always sad to lose someone but itís even tougher when that someone is a child. It took Ryan a couple of years before he would let himself get that close to another friend.

Our daughter's love of animals and our son's need to help children may have come from us both, but their gentle natures are truly a tribute to you.

**********************************************************

We missed them terribly while they were away at school and were always happy to have them home whenever they could make it. Seemed like their college years just flew by and before we knew it, they were graduating and heading off to pursue their own paths. I have to tell you at this point, that I found it hilarious to call out "Dr. Compton" and have them both say "Yes?" Iím pretty sure it drove them a little bit nuts. But whatís a parent for?

**********************************************************

As I continue to reminisce while I watch you sleep, I notice the sun starting to shine through the blinds. Morning has arrived bringing my mind back to the present. Seeing your eyelids begin to flutter, I lean over and gently kiss your lips. You open your eyes, smile that soft smile of yours and say, "Good morning."

I don't speak for a moment, just continue to gaze lovingly into the eyes I had looked into as we said our vows to each other twenty-five years ago today. "Happy Anniversary baby," I say. My heart again feels full and complete as I tell you, " I love you. I've loved you from the first moment I saw you."

You hold your arms out to me and I bend down to welcome you to this new day. As our lips start to meet, I hear you softly say, "And Iíve loved you. All through the years."

The End

 

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