Life is a Celebration
Jamie Sheridan saddled the second of two ponies who were standing patiently inside the small coral. The animals had only been at the California ranch for five months, arriving after an exhaustive search by the rancher personally. Jamie had to find just the right matches for the two junior riders; their safety and happiness always of extreme importance to her.
She took a brush and tried to smooth down the wild mane on the small black and white equine. But it didn’t do much good. It never did. But the pony’s young owner liked it that way. “Sorry Oreo,” Jamie chuckled, as she bent down to speak to the pony face to face. “I would cut it, but she would have a fit.” She ruffled the animal’s bangs, searching for the dark eyes. “I know they’re under here somewhere.” The other, buff colored pony, named Shiloh, neighed in agreement. “Well,” Jamie continued, “tomorrow I am definitely going to at least give this a trim.” She gave the pony a scratch on the nose before checking to make sure there were two apples in a nearby basket, to be presented to the ponies after a successful ride.
She looked at her watch, anxiously awaiting the arrival of her eight year old twins, Jordan and Noah, from school. The bus generally let them off at around 2:45, so she had about fifteen minutes to grab a snack from the refrigerator she kept in her office, inside the barn. Rounding the corner, heading that way, Jamie was suddenly surprised by a tiny dynamo kicking up dust as his booted feet ran toward her. She only had seconds to prepare for the impact of his stout little body. “Mama, Mama!” he yelled as he grasped her around the leg.
Jamie knelt down and lifted her four year old son into her arms. Their respective cowboy hats bumped as she kissed him on the cheek. “Hey buckaroo,” she said happily. “I didn’t expect you and mommy home so soon.” Looking up, she saw her spouse approaching them at a much more sedate pace. Jamie grinned. “Hello beautiful.” The kiss she then placed on her spouse’s lips left them both breathless.
Erin’s green eyes sparkled. “Damn, you just keep getting better at that. I mean you were spectacular to begin with.”
“You mean all those years ago,” Jaime teased. “Happy Anniversary.”
“You said that first thing this morning.” Erin gave her another quick kiss. “And at breakfast.” Another quick kiss. “And again at lunch.” One more kiss.
“No!” the boy yelled. “Me!”
Jamie tickled Rory’s belly. “Now look here little man, you’re gonna have to learn some patience, because your mommy always deserves a proper greeting.” The boy began to squirm, but Jamie didn’t want to set the youngster on his feet, because those feet, as small as they were, were very rarely still. Rory Michael was definitely the most rambunctious of their brood, always busy, running here and there, playing with the dogs, or tumbling with his brother. He was a sweet boy who loved to laugh, and he had a great imagination. He was just a very active child. His older brother had been quite rowdy too, but he had grown out of it once he had started school. They hoped, prayed that young Rory would follow the same pattern.
“How did the haircut go?” Jamie asked her weary looking spouse.
Erin sighed dramatically. “Well, it got done,” she said, pulling the small hat from Rory’s dark haired head. “But, as usual it was a fight. Our wiggle worm just doesn’t like sitting still in that seat.”
“Or his car seat…or the kitchen chair…or…a horse’s saddle,” Jamie pointed out, giving a little chuckle at the uneven hair on one side of her son’s head. “I don’t know Rin, maybe we should just let the guy give him a buzz cut. A couple of passes and it would be done.”
Erin fussed with the short locks, trying to settle them into some sort of order. “I guess it’s either that or a sedative…for the stylist, not Rory.”
Jamie laughed again, loving her partner’s sense of humor.
“Put me down Mama!”
“No Buckaroo. You know the rules, no running around out here. That scares the horses, and they might accidentally hurt you. I guess you’d better take him up to the yard,” she said, handing off the bright eyed boy to his other mother. “The kids should be here any minute, wanting to ride.”
Erin smiled, staring deeply into her wife’s flashing eyes.
“What?” Jamie asked the grinning blonde.
“You act like it’s such a chore for you to help them go for a ride. You love it and you are so proud each time they trot around that corral. The first time Jordan took that pony out on her own, I thought your shirt buttons were going to pop. Not that I would have minded.” She gave her spouse a wink. “Happy Anniversary Baby.”
“Now who’s doing it?” Jamie said as the pair started to walk away.
Erin looked back over her shoulder. “Just wait until you see how I say Happy Anniversary tonight.”
Just as Erin reached the gate to the back yard, the tawny haired twins came around the corner of the house. After a short chat with their mother, and a hug and a kiss each, the kids tossed their backpacks over the low fence and walked out to the barn, where Jamie anxiously waited. This was her playtime with them. They were allowed to ride for thirty minutes, and then they had to tackle their homework before dinner. This was their weekday routine. On the weekend, Mommy and Mama tried to find family activities to share with the three offspring. Both Erin and Jamie knew that the children would soon be reaching the age when they would want to do more of their own thing. Noah was already expressing interest in karate, after attending some his cousin Conner’s matches. For Jordan, it was still all horses all the time. But Erin was hoping to expose the girl to some new interests in the very near future.
Erin smiled warmly as she watched her beloved snuggle both children to her sides and spin them around. She fondly remembered how nervous Jamie was to hold them for the first time as newborns. But by the end of that first month, she was handling them like a pro. Erin always had confidence in her soulmate, and now ten years later, she knew Jamie finally had full confidence in herself.
The trio’s bright laughter reached her ears and settled deeply into her heart. Erin lifted her face to the sky and whispered, “Thank you for my wonderful life.”
A tug on her hand brought her attention back to reality, and a request for a drink from her son. “Sure Honey, I’ll get you some juice. Then I’ll push you on the swing.”
With a busy ranch and three kids, Erin and Jamie rarely had time to spend an entire day alone together, even an anniversary. But they didn’t mind at all. They had a beautiful, full life. But on this day, Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Katie were stepping in to allow the couple to celebrate, by taking the three kids for the night.
* * * *
Later that night, Jamie stepped from the shower, intending to take extra care with her personal preparations for their anniversary celebration. She dried her dark hair, brushing out the shoulder length locks, bringing out a silky texture. Deciding to add just a little flair to her look, Jamie placed a silver comb to hold back one side away from her face. She slipped into a new pair of satiny pajamas, having picked up the set during her recent trip into the city to buy Erin’s anniversary present. Adding the matching jacket over the sleeveless top, Jamie inspected herself in the mirror. She had chosen black, because Erin had always said that the color made her look exotic. Jamie smiled at the thought, liking the idea. But she would do just about anything for her lovely wife. Finally, Jamie applied Erin’s favorite fragrance to the appropriate body parts, and with one last glance in the mirror, decided she looked well presentable for a night of celebration. At forty two, she could still pass for someone ten years younger.
Jamie left the bedroom and turned right, down the hallway. After just a few steps, her feet nearly stopped at another door. She chuckled at herself, realizing there was no child behind that door to check on or to kiss goodnight. She and Erin had talked to their children just an hour earlier on the phone, wishing them goodnight and fun at their sleepover. It had been at least four years since they were childless for an entire night, but they never once resented or regretted having their beautiful children. She worried for just a minute about Rory, this being his first night away from home. But Uncle Jeremy insisted that the four year old and the twins were fine and having fun with their five year old cousin, Cassidy.
Continuing her short journey, Jamie reached the top of the stairs, a soft smile sliding across her face, knowing who was waiting for her just a few feet away. She began to hear the soft notes of music, which drew her to den and her wife. Stopping in the doorway, Jamie attentively took in the lovely scene before her. Erin was very skilled at creating romantic ambience, typical and unconventional. On this night she went very traditional, featuring a small table just for two, laid out with china, silver and crystal. A seashell centerpiece evoked memories of their early times together at their beach house. A pair of tall slender, peach colored candles completed the setting. The lights were dimmed, and a fire in the fireplace enhanced the October night.
Erin was across the room, lighting more candles along the fireplace mantle. She wore a red, silk kimono, its short length revealing her toned legs. Jamie enthusiastically imagined the other lacey garment yet to be revealed. The blonde always wore red for their more intimate celebrations, remembering the nightwear that Jamie had purchased for her on their first night of making love.
Erin was a petite, but perfect package of femininity. She often joked that chasing after their youngest, omitted the need for an exercise program. But Jamie knew that her lovely wife kept up a healthy regimen, wanting to live to a ripe old age for her children and her spouse.
Jamie sighed, feeling totally content. “Let me say that you have never been more beautiful. And I’ll add, that I will surely say the same thing on our twentieth anniversary, and beyond.”
Erin stopped, blew out the match in her hand and turned slowly. She was smiling brightly, ready to thank her wife for the lovely compliment. But instead, she gasped when her eyes caught sight of her tall partner. There were just certain moments where her beautiful wife was simply overwhelming, too stunning for words. This was one of those moments as Jamie’s splendid presence filled the doorway. But those times weren’t always when Jamie was dressed in her finest. There had been a time or two when Jamie was sitting atop her favorite steed, looking regal, as if perched on a golden throne. She was the queen of her natural realm. There was even a moment in the past, when the rancher had had windblown hair and dusty clothes, but she appeared as a diamond in the rough. Despite her mussed appearance, Jamie stood strong with confidence, having just saved a scared horse from injury. Jamie’s devotion to the lives she accepted responsibility for made her dazzling in her spouse’s eyes.
“Oh my,” Erin exclaimed in a heavy breath, sauntering across the room. She brushed her hand down Jamie’s arm, admiring the soft material and the well-conditioned muscles beneath. She loved when Jamie wore all black, because it highlighted the only points of true color on her body…her penetrating blue eyes. “You are so sexy,” she said.
Jamie took her wife into her arms. “This old thing,” she joked. “I thought you might like it. Only the best for you,” she added before her lips softly landed upon Erin’s.
They parted slowly, each not able to stop smiling at the sheer joy in their hearts. “As much as I’d love to continue this right here and now,” Jamie said, “I know you spent a lot of time on that delicious looking meal over there. Let’s eat first. After all, we have the time for a leisurely meal, no rushing for bathtimes…” They shared a kiss. “…or bedtimes… or…”
“I get the point,” Erin said softly. “But if we’re going to eat, you will have to let me go.”
Jamie sighed. “I suppose.” Without actually relinquishing their hold on one another, they moved to the beautiful table, where Jamie’s favorites waited. Erin’s version of surf and turf was a grilled steak with lobster mac and cheese. She added a green salad to allow for some amount of healthy nutrition. Erin buttered a hot roll and broke off a bite, playfully slipping it between Jamie’s lips, before taking her seat just across the small table.
They talked a little about their past and a lot about their future as the food before them began to disappear. They reminisced about past anniversaries. They laughed at the antics of their beloved children, and they smiled at the beauty of each other. The romance was present in abundance on this evening. But over the ten years of their marriage, Erin had come to realize the romance, in even the tiniest gestures. Jamie would leave little trinkets from nature on Erin’s writing desk, hoping that the simple beauty would inspire. The author had a nice little collection of textured stones and unusual shaped twigs. Her favorite was a daisy chain, shaped into a heart.
Jamie liked brain teasers and jokes, so Erin would text her a few challenging conundrums during the week. When Jamie returned home at the end of the day, the clever rancher would whisper the correct solutions into Erin’s ear at the most surprising moments. Erin was pretty sure that her spouse found most of the answers online, but she never let on. This was romantic. This was love.
When the meal was finished, Jamie cleared the table and returned shortly to find that all of the electric lights were off, leaving only candlelight to illuminate the small room. The flickering shadows tangoed to the music along the darkened walls. Why should they have all the fun, Jamie thought. She removed her dark jacket, tossing it onto a side chair, as Erin approached with a pleasing step. Her arms slid around Jamie’s neck and they joined the flames in their sensual dance. “You read my mind,” Jamie whispered into the blonde locks she nuzzled.
“Always,” Erin returned.
As their bodies moved ever closer, all words paused. The memories faded, to be called upon on other days. There was only sensing in this moment. A moment of near perfection in a day of celebration. A moment soon to be a memory. But a moment to be savored as it flowed from one emotion to the next. The immense affection of one best friend to another. Joy and pride in a lifelong companion. The passions of two souls connected for now and beyond time. Those emotions and many more were woven into a tapestry that enrobed the life they shared. A tapestry simply entitled love.
Dancing continued for long moments, but it soon led to cuddling, which led to kissing…which was quickly leading to...other, more intense passions.
Erin had the foresight to put the dessert and champagne in their bedroom earlier in the day, so all they had to do was extinguish the candles and walk up the stairs to continue a more intimate dance, one they had committed to heart long ago.
* * * *
Sometime later, Jamie and Erin snuggled sweetly under the moonlight, a warm blanket pulled over their cooling bodies. Their love was just as fresh and passionate as the day they fell in love for the first time. While they didn’t have the chances to make love as often as they did earlier in their relationship, those intimate moments were now cherished even more.
Erin reached up to push some strands of hair behind her ear. A beam of moonlight glinted off of the band on her finger. They had exchanged presents earlier in the day, in fact very early, before the kids woke up to start their Friday.
* * * *
They were still in their nightclothes, settling into the loveseat by the window in their bedroom. Jamie took the pot of coffee from the bar in the corner and poured them both a cup. Adding a sugar bowl and some cream from the small refrigerator below the counter, to a tray, she carried it all to the table in front of the double chair. Erin was seated sideways with her legs pulled under her body. She grinned broadly as she accepted her cup from Jamie. The darkness outside was just turning to pre-dawn gray, but it was going to be a beautiful, sunny day.
They made some small chit chat, but mostly they just enjoyed the quiet of the new morning. And the flavorful brew they were sipping. They always tried to follow this routine on Sunday mornings, but being their anniversary, they decided to treat themselves on this special Friday.
Jamie took one final sip of her coffee, an excited smile then shaping her face with delight. “Okay, now that we are fully awake,” she said cheerfully, “time for presents.” She pulled a smartly wrapped gift from the pocket of her robe and presented it to her beloved. “Happy Anniversary Sweetheart.”
Erin happily took the offering, unwrapping it with ease. Inside the small box, she found a smooth, cabochon cut Mexican fire opal, set in a golden band. “Oh my,” she gasped. “This is beautiful.” Erin lifted the sizzling, sunrise hued stone to her eyes to make a closer inspection. The translucence showcased the glowing interior, which held sparkling veins of green and yellow. The band was a golden, intertwined grapevine, with five delicate fingers holding the stone in place. “It’s breathtaking,” she added with awe.
“That’s what you are to me,” Jamie explained, the expression on her face painted with several shades of emotion. “Breathtaking.” She took the ring from Erin’s grasp and placed it onto the ring finger of the writer’s right hand. “This reminds me of the fire in your heart, the passion you have for everything you do. I love you.”
“Thank you. I love it and you.” A kiss sealed her declaration. “Now it’s your turn.” Erin disappeared briefly behind the loveseat, and then reappeared with a colorful bag she had hidden there the night before. She pulled out the gift and placed it in Jamie’s outstretched hands.
“Oooo, I’m gonna love it,” Jamie squealed, excitedly.
Erin laughed. “You don’t even know what it is yet.”
“You’re giving it to me, how could I not.”
“Even if it’s a pair of pink, peep toe, high heeled shoes.”
Jamie pondered the thought and decided. “Love ‘em yes, wear ‘em no.”
Erin laughed, patting Jamie on the knee. “Don’t worry Baby; I wouldn’t do that to you on our anniversary. I’m saving those for your birthday.”
Jamie suddenly paused in her unwrapping. She grinned devilishly and leaned forward to whisper in her blonde’s ear. “I’ll tell you what. You buy me shoes like that and I’ll give you a private, nighttime fashion show, featuring those…and nothing else.” Jamie added a nibble to the tasty lobe as a preview.
Erin swallowed hard, and then giggled. “As intriguing as that sounds, I’d rather see you in those worn, leather chaps…and nothing else. It’s much more you.”
Almost reluctantly, the rancher returned to the gift in her lap, tossing aside the sheet of wrapping paper. But her slightly lusty gaze never strayed from Erin’s eyes, until she had full access to the contents of the package. Carefully lifting the item, Jamie was instantly intrigued by the obviously handcrafted, rectangular box. “Wow!” she said, studying the exotic wood and intricate construction. “This is beautiful.”
“I know you don’t have a lot of jewelry,” Erin said. “But you do have several little keepsakes that are currently in a cardboard box in the corner of your sock drawer. I thought this would be a safer place. Plus, every time you open it…”
Jamie lifted the lid, triggering a familiar melody. She smiled fondly, raising her eyes to meet the loving green gaze. The song that was playing held a very special meaning to the couple, something that only the two of them knew. Jamie leaned over and placed soft kisses upon Erin’s lips.
They might have gotten lost in the loving moment, but Erin hazily realized that their private time was slipping away. And she had another surprise for her lover.
The second was much more of a family gift, something Erin had been secretly planning for a couple of months. “Jamie Sheridan,” Erin said, “you have just spent ten years with a wonderful, sexy,” she flashed a wink at her grinning wife, “and incredibly lucky woman, now what are you going to do?”
“Hopefully,” Jamie answered, “spend another fifty or sixty years with my incredibly sexy woman.”
Erin laughed. Her spouse hadn’t picked up on her lead in. “Well,” she said, “I hope so too. But I was talking about this.” She reached behind the sofa cushion and pulled out a large, yellow envelope, handing it to her partner.
“Another one?” Jamie asked. “Baby, you shouldn’t have.”
Erin held her excited grin. “This one is special.”
Jamie took the envelope and quickly removed the contents which included tickets, maps and brochures. The blue eyes grew wide as the famous image came into view. “We’re going to Disneyworld!” Jamie had wanted to have a family vacation, but the timing just hadn’t worked out.
“Yes,” Erin confirmed excitedly. “We’re spending the first week of December, just in time for Christmas.” Erin found two long arms wrapped around her and she was hugged fiercely.
“Thank you Baby! I love it. And the kids will go crazy when they find out.”
Erin pulled away from the embrace. “Just one thing, Sweetie, we’re not going to tell the children about this until just a couple of days before we leave.” She saw Jamie’s frown. “Trust me Jamie, if we don’t do it that way, they will drive us crazy with questions.”
The broad shoulders drooped just a bit, but Jamie did have some experience with the endless questions. “I suppose,” the rancher conceded. “But I’m going to be doing some research at night. I want to fit in as many fun things as possible.”
Erin chuckled. “Yes dear, you can do your research.”
Jamie flipped through the printed material, her eyes catching one brightly colored photo after another. “Oh, are we taking your Dad’s plane?” she asked.” I know we’ll be bringing back a lot of souvenirs.”
Erin nodded. “I thought that would be best for the kids…especially Rory.”
Jamie chuckled as she continued to glance through the information. “He’ll be fine Sweetheart. I’ll keep him busy.” Jamie suddenly set the Disney package aside and gazed deeply into her wife’s green, green eyes. She took Erin’s hands into hers, giving them a gentle squeeze. “I think you know how much I love you,” she stated. “But I also want you to know just how much I love you as a mother. You have given us three beautiful children. And you have nurtured them into smart, confident and happy individuals. I know there have been some trying times in the last eight years, but you have handled them all with patience and wisdom. Much more so than I have at certain moments. I admire you so much for the wonderful mother you are.” She raised the hands to her mouth and placed several wispy kisses on the soft skin. “I love my family so much.”
Erin said nothing. But the joyful tears in her eyes spoke it all.
* * * *
It was approaching midnight. Rain began to softly patter against the window. The raven haired lover turned slightly to catch a glimpse out into the dark. The natural melody serenaded the night and the lovers. Both women had been quiet for some time, lost in thought, enjoying the softness of each other, not quite ready for sleep. Jamie didn’t want to think beyond the moment, but a thought of another rainy night flashed into her thoughts. It was the night that their youngest was born, four years earlier. She let the happy memory play out, ending in an audible sigh.
“What are we going to name her?” Jamie asked, serenely.
The question was seemingly out of place, but not totally unexpected. Erin chuckled, exhaling a tickling breath across Jamie’s shoulder. “One, I’m not even pregnant yet.”
Jamie reached down and tickled the softness of Erin’s belly. “But you will be soon,” she pointed out.
Erin sighed positively. “Hopefully. But two, how do you know it will be a girl?”
Jamie shrugged. “It will be. This will be our last one, and then we’ll have an even set, two each.”
Erin looked up into the confident blue eyes, still visible in the night. “Are you a physic now?”
Jamie kissed the top of the golden head. “No. I’m just a good wisher.”
A chuckle filtered into the air. “Well, if you’re so certain, I’d still like to use the name we had picked out before we knew that Rory was a boy.”
Jamie smiled. “McKenna Amelia. My mom would be really proud…of all of her grandchildren of course…but having her name passed on to her granddaughter would have made her so happy.”
Erin hugged her wife, ever protective of Jamie’s sensitive soul. “I’m sure she’ll know, Baby. In fact, I’m sure she’s always kept a close eye out and is very proud of you. All of your family must be extremely proud of you and the life you’ve created and the legacy you’ve carried on.”
Jamie took that into her brain for a moment before speaking. “Thank you for thinking that, Sweetie. But as I’ve always known, it was your strength and devotion that has allowed me to create a family. That’s allowing us to create a future.”
Erin scooted up onto her own pillow and Jamie turned to her side so they could see blue to green. “You know,” Erin claimed, “simply saying I love you, sometimes seems so inadequate to express to you just how deeply I truly feel. It is how much I desire you, how much I need you, how much you anchor me to this life. How much I absolutely adore you.”
Jamie swallowed the emotion that threatened to render her speechless. She finely spoke softly, but heartfelt. “Hearing you say you love me, gives me everything I will ever need in this life and the next.”
The tired women soon slipped off to sleep, the nearness of each other always bringing peace to their dreams. And in the morning they would be ready to face whatever the day would bring. The triumphs and challenges faced as a couple and a family.