An epistolary piece I wrote inspired by my grandparents’ first meeting in our local park (saying this, the names are not those of my family members and the piece is mainly fictional). I loved writing this, as I put a lot of emotion into it. Usual warning – please do not plagiarise this work or use it without permission.
If someone had told the 20-year-old me that I would meet the woman of my dreams while extracting myself from a duck pond, I’d have told them they were stark raving mad! But there I was, swearing loudly as I wrung the water from my jacket and picked the pond life from my shoes, when you asked me if I was okay, and promptly began to laugh at the sight of me dripping enough of a puddle at my feet for the ducks I’d disturbed to consider a holiday home. I knew straight away that the girl with the chocolate coloured eyes and the dazzling smile would be ‘the one’, but who could’ve predicted the 50 years we’ve had?
You know it’s our Valentine’s tradition, these letters, so of course you won’t be surprised to find this. One of the perks of the day is choosing where to hide this; never in the same place twice. The look of concentration as you scour high and low is a constant cause of hilarity. Either you’re a sniffer dog in disguise or I’m appalling at keeping things a secret, because you’ve never missed one. Of course, it’s also part of the tradition to share anecdotes, so I guess it’s my turn to go first.
Remember the proposal? I should hope so, anyway! God, that was a catastrophe, wasn’t it? Admittedly, I should’ve checked that the waiter understood exactly what I was asking to be iced on the cake. So we leave without finishing dessert, you’re fuming, and I’m trying to convince you that I’m not having an affair with a woman named Marie as you storm to the bus stop in the rain. I could have cried; I didn’t though, honestly. To this day I will argue that it was the rainwater on my cheek that you pointed out as I shouted my feelings down the street after you. Thank God you did say yes though, as I’m not sure what I would’ve done had you refused.
As for our wedding day… Seeing you walk down the aisle towards me in your beautiful white dress with your hair curled the way I liked it, that lovely smile spread across your face as we said ‘I do’… It truly was the best moment of my life. Your chocolate eyes sparkled under tears waiting to flow over, and you whispered in my ear: ‘are you crying now?’ It was the hay fever, I’ll have you know! I told you that the bleedin’ flowers, however ‘pretty’ they may have been, were bound to set me off! You know me, I don’t do emotion. Our Joanie’s birth, that time I broke my arm falling from that ladder as I tried to save the cat from the blasted fir tree, when I had that heart attack… You were always the one that bawled, never me. I’m hard as ice, I am.
Saying all that, I have to admit that you were the one to melt me. You’ll love to hear that, given you made it your life’s mission! Naturally, part of you will be gloating as I admit it: I cried. I remained strong and steady as they told me there wasn’t long left, as I received the phone call from the hospital telling me to come quickly, as I arrived to hear I was a little too late. But, standing in front of our friends and family, singing just as badly as ever as your favourite hymn played and the curtain created an impassable barrier between us, it wasn’t rainwater or the flowers causing the water on my cheek. I cried enough that day to make up for all the many times I didn’t – the times I should’ve – and I’m not afraid to admit it. You always have been able to draw blood from the stone, as it were; you have a knack of producing miracles, and that certainly was one of them!
I know I’ve never left your letter outside the house before, but it would be cruel of me to leave it so far away from you; you always have to find it, as you well know! I can hear you reprimanding me like I’m a child for walking with my notepad in my arms all this way to the churchyard in the rain – what with my dodgy knee and all – but I had to be here with you today. I bought you flowers, your favourites, even though they cost an arm and a leg! I couldn’t not make an occasion of today; it’d be a crime to break our tradition. I’ll have a hell of a time hiding next year’s letter though – couldn’t possibly leave it in the same place twice!
So here I am, and I know you’re here too, somehow. I know that I have to stop writing in the present tense about you… I’m only fooling myself by behaving like you’re still here, but if I don’t then I have to accept that you’re… Don’t you start! I know what it seems like, love, but I promise you: it’s rainwater on my cheek, and those flowers are bringing on my hay fever!
Love you forever and always,
Your husband John.