Reading the Leaves

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.

Reading the Leaves

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.

Tied Together

Knowing, above all else, there is living ahead.

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