Daniel and Wendy met in a small café several years ago. Wendy worked as a waitress, and Daniel became a regular customer after the first time their eyes connected. He could feel a charge of electricity racing through his body and his knees felt weak. His first words to Wendy were, “Yeah, um…I’ll have a milk with two coffees. Wait, that’s not right. Coffee with two milks please.”
Wendy felt the energy between them as well, but it did not come on as strongly until about their third meeting. That was when Daniel asked Wendy to join him at his table during her break. She hesitated but gave in after he produced an award-winning pout on his face. She said that if his bottom stuck out any further, it would throw him off balance.
Daniel saw this as a serendipitous moment in their life. He felt that they were destined to be together, and fate had led them up to this moment. He was a romantic at heart, though Wendy was more of a realist. She didn’t believe in games of chance or love at first sight. She was taught by her parents that relationships were hard, and couples had to work at building a trust. Love took second place in their marriage.
Daniel’s parents were quite the opposite. They were free spirits who lived life to its fullest and loved every moment as it was going to be their last. They taught Daniel that everything in life happens for a reason, so you just need to keep your eyes open for the gifts that are offered to you.
Together, Daniel and Wendy, although sharing different views on life, seemed to find something irresistible about each other. She was the yin to Daniel’s yang. Their differences complimented one another in ways that nobody else ever could. Daniel was enthralled by her intellect, while Wendy fell in love with his carefree demeanor.
Their relationship began to blossom in time, and their interests blended into one. Wendy peaked Daniel’s interest in art the first time she had brought him through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They spent hours discussing the old masters from Europe such as Renoir, Rembrandt, da Vinci, and Michelangelo.
Daniel then brought Wendy to her first-ever demolition derby. She sat quietly in her seat while Daniel jumped up-and-down yelling for the drivers to “Hit ‘em harder!” It was also her first time having a chili dog. She daintily held it between her fingers, trying desperately not to let any of the sauce drip onto her hands, or worse, her clothes. Meanwhile, Daniel wolfed down two before she nibbled away ¼ of hers.
They each found a balance in their interests, and one day, while perusing through the latest issue of Vogue Magazine, Wendy was interrupted by a very loud, “AHEM!” coming from the other side of the article on Gucci handbags. She lowered the magazine, and Daniel knelt on one knee. His arms were raised in front with his left palm turned upwards. With his right hand, he opened the blue velvet case that rested on his palm, and inside, was a glimmering Princess-cut diamond. She was speechless. Her eyes were now focused on the diamond ring before her as the magazine dropped to the ground in front of her.
Daniel took a deep breath and said, “This diamond represents us. There are several angles and intricacies, but when you join them all together, they become a beautiful, united entity filled with color and strength, but no ring could express how I truly feel about you, Wendy. My love for you is flawless like this diamond, and I would consider it a great privilege if you would agree to be my wife. Will you marry me?”
Tears began flowing from her eyes like transparent snakes, slithering down across her cheeks and underneath her chin. She quickly wiped them away, held out her left hand, and said, “Yes. One hundred times over, YES!”
The two were married three months later. It was a small ceremony despite the bickering from both sets of parents. Daniel and Wendy both knew that to arrange a large, extravagant ceremony would only lead to disagreements between all involved. Daniel’s parents would have wanted an outdoor wedding in some exotic location, while Wendy’s parents would have insisted on a church wedding at the same church where they were married, and her grandparents before that. Instead, they chose a private ceremony at their home with a local Justice of the Peace and two friends to witness the nuptials.
The parents were upset that they were not invited but settled down once Wendy and Daniel agreed that they could throw them a party and invite the rest of the family and friends. It made for an interesting night getting everyone in one room. Before the night was over, however, Wendy’s normally prim and proper Aunt Gladys was up dancing to the Macarena with Daniel’s Uncle Fred. Everyone went home happy.
Another three months had passed, and Wendy began to feel ill. She set up an appointment with her physician while Daniel was at work one day. She tried to hide her symptoms from him because she knew how much he would worry. Later that evening, when Daniel returned home, she asked him to sit down so she could discuss something particularly important with him.
“Sweetheart,” she began. “I went to see Doctor Wellington today. I haven’t been feeling well lately, and I thought that I should get it checked. He ran some tests, and…how can I say this?” She paused for what seemed like an eternity to Daniel. “You’re going to be a daddy.”
It took a moment for those words to sink in but then Daniel’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. He was overjoyed at the news. Wrapping his arms tightly around Wendy’s waist, he pulled her close and kissed her passionately.
“Easy there, tiger,” she said. “It was that kind of action that brought us here in the first place.”
They both laughed, then kissed some more. The bond they had was now even stronger. Daniel was excited about being a father and couldn’t wait to share the news, but Wendy insisted that they let everyone know at the same time. They decided to invite the parents and their closest friends over for a barbeque. Once Daniel was able to pull the men away from the football game, they gathered everyone together in one room and told them all the big news. As expected, the ideas for baby showers and what was best for the baby was already being discussed, but all that mattered, is that everyone could finally agree on something; they all loved the thought of Wendy and Daniel being parents.
The next six months felt like weeks to Daniel, but years to Wendy. She had a difficult pregnancy that deeply effected her emotions and her regular sleep cycle. She was aching all over, with a constant pull on her back muscles by the time she reached her third trimester. She was begging the baby to come out. She couldn’t manage it anymore. Daniel consoled her as much as humanly possible, but she found herself lashing out at him for no reason. He shrugged off the harsh words, but he felt inside that he wasn’t doing enough.
When the time finally came to deliver, Wendy was at home with her mother and Daniel was at work. She called Daniel up and told him to meet her at the hospital. Daniel quickly told his boss that he had to leave and rushed to the hospital. He first glanced in at the emergency department waiting room, but there was no sign of Wendy, so he went to admitting seeing if she already checked in. Still nothing, so he gave the woman in admitting all of Wendy’s information then went to have a seat. Ten minutes later, Wendy and her mother entered the hospital waiting room.
Daniel ran up to them and asked where they had been, and Wendy informed him that she didn’t want to be laying naked on the table without having a shower first. Daniel just shook his head and laughed. They were guided to the maternity ward on the fourth floor where her obstetrician was waiting.
They offered her an epidural, but she refused. Once her contractions began to increase, however, she yelled out, “GIVE ME DRUGS!” to the nurse. Daniel tried to argue the fact with her, but that was short-lived when she grabbed onto his chest with her fingernails and embedded them into his skin. He swore that her eyes had turned red at that moment like a demonic creature had taken over her body.
After almost six hours of intense labour, they heard the words that every parent loved to hear, “Congratulations. You are now the parents of a healthy baby girl.” Baby Abigail was born. After she was cleaned up, the nurse handed Abigail to Wendy to hold for the first time. It was a feeling unlike anything else she had ever felt in her life. A completeness and a sense of love that reached beyond the natural spectrum.
“Do you realize what today is?” Daniel asked Wendy. Wendy thought for a moment about the date before it came to her. With everything else going on, she had forgotten that it was Daniel’s birthday as well.
“I am so sorry, honey. I completely forgot about your birthday!” she said with remorse.
“It’s fine, babe. You’ve just given me the greatest gift you could ever give me…our daughter.”
The years passed by, and their family grew. Abigail was now twenty-one and was ready to start a new life of her own with Bradley, a kind young man she met in college. Daniel and Wendy added two more mouths to feed to their household as well. The second oldest was Samantha, a tomboy at heart, and Matthew, who just turned six.
Daniel had returned from work one evening and Wendy sat him down. She told him that she had been to the doctor. He was expecting her to say that she was pregnant again, but thought it was too late in life for that to happen safely. Instead, tears began to pool up at the bottom of her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Daniel…I saw an Oncologist today. I have been diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. They found a tumor the size of a grape on my pancreas. They are running more tests, but he said at this point, it may have spread to my other organs and treatment may not be able to fight it off in time.”
Daniel was in shock, unable to comprehend the news that she just dropped in his lap. He thought it was all part of a bad dream and prayed that he would wake up soon.
For the next three months, Wendy underwent several tests and chemotherapy, but the Cancer continued to spread, and one week before Abigail and Daniel were to celebrate their birthdays, Wendy passed away peacefully in her sleep. Her body had shut down and the doctor said that it was the first time in months that she was without pain. Daniel wasn’t sure if he should be happy that she was no longer in pain, or if he should be mourning her loss. His emotions became overwhelming and hard to control.
After the funeral, while tidying up the house, Daniel came across a manilla envelope with his name written on the front. He opened it up, and inside was a DVD with the words, “Thanks for the Memories” written on it. He placed the DVD into the player and hit play. Wendy’s face came on the screen. She had made a video to share with the family. Daniel called all the children into the living room to watch it with him.
In the video, Wendy expressed her love for every one of them. She shared memories that she recalled about various events that took place during their lives. The children were crying, but with smiles on their faces. This was exactly what they needed to see. Daniel as well.
At the end of her video, Wendy read a poem that was written by Mary Elizabeth Frye called, “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
“Thanks for the memories. I love you all.”