here is a story about reflections and how memories can make perfect the hindsight of what was written right in front of us all along.
“Written in the Stars”
Zeke awoke back on the couch in their apartment. It was early morning, just after dawn. He yawned for a moment while sitting up and pinching the bridge of his nose. For as much trepidation as had begun filling his life recently, he always found comfort in sleep, but his recent dreams didn’t always bring him the rest he needed.
He sat up, immediately being drawn into the whirlwind of emotions each day presented. On the coffee table in front of him lay one of Lily’s pacifiers.
Across the living room, Pretzel lay sprawled out on her back on his reclining chair, seemingly in a deeper sleep than what the previous night had offered him.
He stood to his feet, stretching his limbs slowly as he tried to work out the twinge in his lower back. Emotions were not just draining on the inside, but could also be felt on the outside – perhaps sympathy sickness coming from within his own body.
He walked into the kitchen, seeing one of her baby bottles drying on the rack by the sink. His heart both ached and pounded faster at the visual reminder of Lily, his beloved BabyGirl – the only BabyGirl his heart would ever know and love.
Turning the coffee maker on, he made his way back to the bedroom and opened the closet. Seeing his tiny section of clothing, he took a pair of jeans from one of the bins while smiling at the enormous spread of Lily’s clothing (both Big and AB).
Lily was all around him, even when she wasn’t there. His thoughts of her took him around the room, from the jewelry box on the top of the dresser to the night stand on her side of the bed and its huge stack of coloring books.
She had somehow entered his life, suddenly and unexpectedly. Since that day, Zeke had come to know what it was like to not only be in love, but also to be blessed with love – one that wouldn’t fade with time and one he knew his heart would never be without.
Lily was unforgettable and she was irreplaceable. And Zeke knew he would never try to find another. His heart wouldn’t be in it and it couldn’t possibly be – because his heart would always belong to her. To have and to hold in her tiny fingertips, breathing life into him and drawing it back out as she grew weary.
Walking into the kitchen, he instinctively reached for the baby bottle in the drying rack and then to the refrigerator door, getting out the apple juice she always drank after she awoke in the morning. It wasn’t until he screwed the nipple on the top of the bottle that he realized what he was doing. This was the morning routine. It was like second to him.
He filled the dog’s bowl with dog food and the four tiny cat dishes with milk. Pretzel woke up instantly and, from a sprawled out position on her back, she leapt straight up into the air and began running in the air before she landed on her paws and shot across the living room rug. When she got to the wood floor of the kitchen, she immediately began back-pedaling as her momentum always slid her across the floor and past her bowl. Eventually, she got to her bowl and began eating her food as if it were Olympic competition for the time.
He sat down on the floor and watched Pretzel eating. And he smiled when he saw the letters P, A, A and D on the side of the cat dishes. They were four little stickers Lily had decorated with her crayons. Each letter represented one of the kitties’ names: Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D’Artagnan.
He smiled a little more brightly, remembering the morning he told her that Athos and Aramis might become confused as to which dish was theirs – since both of their names started with the letter A. And this was why those two dishes now had a tiny “r” on the one and a tiny “t” on the other – right next to the letter A.
So much had changed so quickly. It warmed him within to know that his heart had remained the same – devoted to Lily and to her care for the rest of his life, as it should be.
He decided to continue to follow his instincts. It just didn’t seem to right to forget them.
Each morning after a night Lily had spent in her crib, Zeke would get up, make himself a cup of coffee and prepare her bottle before he walked into her room and gently stirred her out of her dreams.
He chose to do this with careful attention to not ushering her out of the middle of a dream. Having taken so much time studying her sleeping eyes, he had memorized in his mind what each of her facial expressions meant. And when he laid her down in her crib for the night, he always kissed her eyelids, whispering the same wish for the night ahead:
“Dream Big About Being Little, BabyGirl.”
And if the contour of her jaw line or the REM of her eyes told him her dream hadn’t finished, he would remain patiently by her crib side until he was sure. There was no finer way to wake her than to connect the dreams of the night with the dreams of each day.
He walked up to the nursery door, turning the knob slowly and slowly opening the door. The scent of Lily filled the air which rushed out to greet him; floating over his face and making him close his eyes.
He paused for a moment, remembering every time her scent had made him pause in the past. He hoped that her scent would never fade from that nursery or anywhere else in the apartment. And the memories of her began flooding his mind.
Life had changed since the day he met her and they saw so many obstacles in their time together – overcoming it all, one day and one breath at a time. But they had known happiness together which could never be paralleled by anything else in life.
She had fallen to pieces so many time and so had he, but they used the dynamic between them to put all the pieces back together and go on living. And from each triumph of the adversities of life, they grew. The feeling grew and everything deepened – in thought, in word and in each breath in between.
His memories brought him back to the moment and as he opened the nursery door, he took in the morning sunshine as it poured through the bay window, cascading down on all it could reach.
The sun had always seemed to follow Lily wherever she went, ending each day with a beautiful descent behind the horizon and rising again the first thing each morning to brighten her new day. This was her nursery and this was where the sun expected her to be.
From walks in the park to strolls on the beach to trips in a car to days at the baseball field to quiet evenings at home, the sun illuminated her path and made perfect her sight for each footstep she placed along the way.
He walked into her nursery, glancing up at the glow-in-the-dark star stickers on her ceiling – now dormant until the sun retreated at the end of the day, handing over the responsibility to keep Lily’s world as bright as the smile behind her pacifier.
His eyes went around the room, taking in the memories of the dreams which had begun through that bay window, the stories read while sitting on that rocking chair, the day they discovered that the nursery closet could hold no more clothing, the picture she colored on that circular rug and the time she spent keeping this room immaculately clean – with everything in its place.
He looked back up at the stars on the ceiling, arranged in their places as well – detailing the constellations of the Heavens. And it became clear to him that every step of her life had been guided with a light – whether it was the sun in the sky, those glowing stickers on the ceiling or the real ones they emulated, the nightlight in the wall socket or the headlights of a car during a wayward trip.
Lily had always been headed towards something. And she followed the light provided to get her there. Zeke blinked through his tears, realizing at last what was written in the stars.
She had finally reached the destination she had been pursuing for a lifetime.
Also attached to this series is: Aria and the CountrySide
Taking place simultaneously with the end of book 6.
And: The Story of Lucy
Taking place years later.
If you like Zeke and Lily’s saga, I would also recommend: