The leaf landed so stealthily that I didn’t notice it resting on my hand until Meadow and Dave exchanged vows.
Because that’s when I nudged Andy’s hand, smiling as I did.
Life chapters before that moment, I was walking with my paternal grandmother, feeling the autumn breeze on our shoulders and watching the leaves glide down from above.
We’d been talking about nothing in particular when a browned leaf grazed my hand on its downward track. And when I shook my hand in response, Mom-Mau took it with her gnarled, arthritic one and squeezed.
I looked down at her, and she smiled up.
“That’s a good sign, a leaf falling on your hand. A good sign of good things to come.”
Her aged brown eyes danced mischievously, focusing not on me but the past–perhaps a younger version of herself experiencing life before it changed.
Before a lithe, smooth-talking Italian named Edward asked her out for a date and stuck her with the bill; before they found themselves dancing across a battered lodge floor; before they tied the knot; before the war; before my father’s birth; before the trials and tribulations life doles out tested their resolve; before they found their faces aging, the laugh lines growing deeper from the corners of their eyes; before their grandchildren were born; before we celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary; before his chest pains increased in regularity; before that day in the hospital when everything changed; before she said her final goodbye.
Then, as quickly as the leaf had floated from my hand to the ground, the spark faded, receding behind Mom-Mau’s deep browns like a wave from shore, bringing her back to the brisk day in which we found ourselves. To a different kind of comfort, a different life.
A few years later, I held her hand again. But for the last time.
So, as they exchanged vows, I raised my camera slightly and snapped a blurry photo.
But the most meaningful part wasn’t the photo, or the leaf caught within the lens; it was Andy’s leg resting against mine. Acknowledging how time continues to unfold and reveal so many moments, each of which is but a blip on my life’s radar–an anchor to experience.
And like that moment so many years ago, I had someone by my side whom I loved deeply, whose love I never deserved–for which I never asked.
A type of love that just is.
So I let my eyes dance for a moment, glancing back through the memories, through the experiences that brought me to this moment with him. Knowing life changes without warning.
Knowing, above all else, there is living ahead.