Shortly after returning home Lily headed back to school. She decided to go a couple weeks early as she wanted to spend time with Alana and baby Miranda.
I threw myself back into my work.
And hung out with friends.
One day in mid September there was a knock at the door.
“Jonathan! What are you d . . .”
Jonathan interrupted me by pulling me in for a kiss.
I surprised myself by kissing him back.
As we broke apart I asked, “What was that?”
“I think that was a pretty awesome kiss,” he said with a smirk on his face.
“You know what I mean. What are you doing here? Why are you kissing me?”
“Kaitlyn, ever since you left I have been miserable. I realized that I didn’t want to be without you. I let you go from my life once and I am not going to make that same mistake twice.”
“Kaitlyn, please say you will marry me.”
“What? Is this about Lily because I have no problem with you being in her life.”
“No this has nothing to do with Lily. For the last 16 years I have thought about you all the time. That first night we meet I knew we had this connection. I think I have loved you all this time. Please say you will marry me.”
“But we hardly know each other.”
“I know everything I need to know. You are a smart hardworking woman, a wonderful mother, and you have an incredible heart. Any man would be lucky to have you for a wife.”
“This is crazy,” I said laugh/crying.
“Kaitlyn Equidae, will you marry me.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Really?” he asked. I could tell he had been worried I would say no.
“Yes, I will marry you.”
“So when do you want to get married?” he asked.
His eagerness to get married made me smile. “How about this summer,” I said.
“Well it would give us time to get to know each other better. We can be engaged and plan the wedding but also date – just spend time together.”
“How about instead of summer we get married on New Years Eve? Lily will be home for the holidays and how fitting to get married on the anniversary of when we first met.”
“But that is only 4 months away!”
“Lily told me you are the master of pulling a wedding together.”
“You talked to Lily about us getting married?”
“Yeah I stopped at her school and talked to her about it. I wanted to make sure she was ok with the idea. She helped me pick out the ring.”
“Ok we can plan for New Years Eve.”
Then Jonathan kissed me and it was like I was that 15 year old girl again. He was right we do have a connection.
At the end of September Lily came home to celebrate her 17th birthday.
I made Lily’s favorite watermelon cupcakes.
And invited some of our family and friends over to celebrate.
Lily was thrilled to have her dad at the party. It also gave me the opportunity to introduce him to the rest of my family.
I spent the party letting the rest of my family know about my wedding. A few of them were surprised but I could tell they were all happy for me.
“So you are the punk kid who knocked up my baby sister,” Kaden said.
“Kaden leave him alone,” I said as I smacked him playfully on the arm. “Don’t worry about him,” I said to Jonathan. “He is trying to act like the protective big brother. His bark is so much worse than his bit.”
Gwen brought her oldest son Greg to the party. He is now 15.
Lily spent most of her party dancing with him.
Jonathan spent most of the party glaring at Greg. It was funny seeing him become the protective papa bear.
Before Lily left we went wedding dress shopping.
I tried on several dresses.
Until I found the perfect dress.
Of course I insisted that Lily be my maid of honor.
A few days later Lily returned to school. She plans to spend Thanksgiving with Alana this year so she won’t be back until just before Christmas.
In October I went back to Egypt with Jonathan. He had to train in his replacements.
We spent our evenings watching the stars.
This time when he leaned in for the kiss I let him.
Lets just say most nights we did more than sleep.
We returned to Appaloosa Plains just in time for Halloween. I wanted my family to get to know Jonathan better so I decided to throw a costume party. Jonathan helped me get ready for the party by carving some jack-o-lanterns.
I think they turned out great.
I went as a maid.
Jonathan went as a hotdog.
Everyone had a great time. We danced.
And went bobbing for apples.
Rather than jump right into living together we thought it would be best if Jonathan stayed in a hotel until after the wedding. However, we still spent a lot of time together.
We went to the Festival together.
Went out to eat.
Played chess. Jonathan is a great player. He is nearly as good as my brother Kyle.
We hung out at the house watching movies.
Usually that ended up with us making out on the couch like a bunch of teenagers.
In mid November I got a call from Lily.
“Hey honey how are you?”
“Great. You know how I planned to spend Thanksgiving with Alana? Well I was visiting with Mrs. Dowd and she wanted me to invite you and dad to join us. You could see Miranda. She has gotten so big. What do you say?”
“I will talk to your dad but I am game,” I said.
Jonathan was game for the trip to Riverview so we loaded up the car and made the 30 minute drive to Riverview.
Lily greeted us first and gave us both a big hug.
As soon as we got inside Alana run up to me and gave me a huge hug.
I was surprised to see that Jonathan and I were in a room together but then realized there really wasn’t any other option. It was only a four bedroom house including the nursery. Alana and Lily were in one room, Mr. and Mrs. Dowd in one, leaving only one room for Jonathan and I.
“I can take the couch,” Jonathan said.
“Actually we expect Shawn to be here,” Mrs. Dowd said. “Don’t say anything, we intend for it to be a surprise for Alana. He will need to take the couch. I figured since you were engaged and already have a child together you wouldn’t mind sharing.”
I helped Mrs. Dowd cook.
While Jonathan and Mr. Dowd watched football.
Of course I had to sneak away sometimes to play with baby Miranda
“You are a natural,” Jonathan said.
“Oh you startled me,” I said.
“I can’t believe how big she has gotten. Do you want to hold her?” I asked.
“Oh I don’t know how to hold a baby,” Jonathan said.
“You are a doctor! Surely you have held a baby.”
“Sure I have delivered my fair share of babies but once they are out I usually hand them to a nurse for cleanup and then my job is done. I haven’t really stood around holding a baby before. I mean I am sure I held my sister when she was a baby but I would have been 7 or 8 so don’t really remember.”
“Come here,” I said leading Jonathan over to the rocking chair. “Sit down.”
Jonathan sat in the chair and I put Miranda in his arms. “Now was that so hard? You look like a natural.”
“How do you feel about having another one? I mean you have already raised Lily so if you don’t want to go through all that again I understand. It is just that I missed it all the first time and I would . . .”
“I would love to have more kids,” I said.
“Well we do make pretty fantastic kids,” I said with a smirk.
Jonathan stood and placed Miranda back in her crib.
Then he pulled me in for spur of the moment kiss.
I started kissing him back.
Lily came into the room. “Ok you love birds the food is just about ready.”
Jonathan and I both must have turned 8 shades of red.
As we were getting ready to sit down at the table the door bell rang.
“Alana can you see who is here?” Mrs. Dowd asked.
“Sure,” she responded.
Then we heard “SHAWN, OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU ARE HERE!”
We came out and saw the two hugging.
Then Alana went and got Miranda and brought her out to meet Shawn.
“Miranda, this is your daddy,” she said.
“She is even more beautiful than her pictures,” he said with tears in his eyes.
He spent a few minutes holding his daughter. It was a beautiful site seeing him hold her for the first time.
Not wanting the food to get cold we all headed back into the dining room to eat.
The next morning Jonathan asked if we could take a walk, just the two of us, before we headed home.
“There is something I want to show you,” he said.
“What are we doing here?” I asked when we stopped outside the Riverview Cemetery.
“I didn’t say anything before because I didn’t want it to put a cloud over the entire day but Riverview is where I am from. My parents and sister are buried in this cemetery.”
“When was the last time you were here?” I asked him.
“When I buried my sister,” he said. “I remember when I was around 6 or 7 my grandfather died. It bothered my dad that during their time of grief he and my grandmother had to make all of these decisions regarding the burial and funeral. He insisted that he and my mother both have a plan in place so that everything would be taken care of should anything happen. So when they were both killed in the accident there wasn’t much for me to do. Their bodies were sent back here and they were buried in this cemetery. Which was fine because I couldn’t leave my sister. Even after she was released from the hospital she was still too weak to make the trip here. So the first and only other time I was here was right after she died. I didn’t even know if I would stop here until the moment I asked you to take a walk after dinner. For some reason I felt like I needed to see them.”
“I am glad you brought me,” I said. “You know you could have told me before we came about this being your hometown. I feel bad that you had to carry that burden alone today.”
“Nothing about today felt like a burden. The moment you asked if I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving here with you and Lily I didn’t hesitate to say yes. There was no other place I wanted to be than there here with you.”
After that Jonathan took me to see other sites from his childhood. He took me to see his old school.
And the house he grew up in. I was touched that he wanted to share these memories with me.
We had a really cold and snowy December.
Lily came home from school and we had fun decorating the tree.
I hung stockings for the three of us and lit a nice warm fire in the fireplace.
I hung mistletoe around the house and had fun catching Jonathan underneath it.
He didn’t seem to mind.
We took a trip to the winter festival and had a family photo taken.
We went ice skating.
Jonathan tried snowboarding.
Lily and built a snowman.
I think it turned out great.
We had a snowball fight. Jonathan and I were on one team and Lily and her cousin Liz were on the other. Liz and Lily won.
Afterwards we came home and had hot chocolate.
And nice warm stew to warm up. It was a great family fun day.
While Lily was home on break she went with Gwen’s son Greg to the local high school’s Winter Formal. During the dance Greg asked Lily if she wanted to go steady. She happily said yes. I am happy for her and think Greg is a really nice young man. Jonathan doesn’t like the idea of her dating at all. But I keep reminding him that she is 17.
Gwen and Sarah decided to throw me a bachelorette party.
They hired male dancers.
Gwen and I sang karaoke.
We played pool.
My niece Lynn made out with one of the dancers.
I blew chocolate bubbles.
And eventually passed out on the floor of the club. It was a fun night.
The following day was my wedding. Even though it was winter I wanted an outside wedding. I thought the snow made everything look so magical.
Jonathan thought we should get married right at midnight but I thought that was awfully late for my family and friends – especially those with younger kids.
We exchanged vows we wrote ourselves.
“When I met you, exactly 18 years ago today, I was in a very dark place. My parents were gone and my sister was in a coma and for one special night you helped me forget. You made me laugh and you made me smile. Walking away from you the next morning when I got the call that my sister was awake was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about you and wonder what you were doing. Not coming back here to find you is one of my biggest regrets. I always felt like there was something missing in my life until you and Lily walked into that camp in Egypt last summer. I am happy that you forgave me and allowed me the opportunity to get to know our amazing daughter. She is amazing all because she has an amazing mother. When you left I knew I couldn’t let another chance with you slip through my figures. I have loved you these last 18 years but never had the opportunity to tell you. I can’t wait to spend the next 50 years telling you I love you every day.”
“When we met 18 years ago I was also in a dark place. While I still had my siblings my parents were also gone and I had never had a chance to say goodbye. I was also feeling guilty for not being here when they died. When I met you at that party I felt this instant connection. I saw a sadness in your beautiful blue eyes that matched my own. Therefore, when you left the next morning I was heartbroken. Even more so when I found out I was going to be a mother at 16 and would raising the baby without a father. I wanted to hate you for leaving but I never could. You gave me Lily and she is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. And like you I think I fell in love with you too that day. I was surprised to see you in Egypt and I was scared. Scared to allow myself to love you for fear of getting hurt. It wasn’t until you arrived on my door step that I realized that when I am with you I feel a sense of peace that I have never felt before. I can’t wait for us to start our life together. Even if it took us 18 years to get here.”
“Such beautiful vows,” Gwen exclaimed.
“So beautiful,” echoed Kelsey.
My brother Kevin cried.
So did my brother Kaden.
Afterwards we cut the cake before heading inside.
Kristen played for us.
And we shared our first dance as husband and wife.
Lily was so happy for us.
I had left the mistletoe up and we shared a quick kiss.
Later after all the guests had left we celebrated in private. Tomorrow Lily goes back to school and we are leaving for an extended honeymoon. I can’t wait to see where life takes us next.