As summer infiltrated Seattle, my and Toby’s love blossomed into a beautiful thing. The city was alive with events, activities and tourists flocking to all the sightseeing spots. The weather was gorgeous and everything was in bloom.
I started my new job on July first. My first day was easy as I was introduced to everyone and familiarized myself with the building and the offices. Everyone was friendly and I had a good feeling about the job. I had my own work space with a large desk, computer and everything I needed. I shared the spacious office with my supervisor Maryann. I was going to be assisting her in the finance department.
She was a friendly and easy-going person; I was sure we would get along and things would be great. I learned about all the Tiny House villages in Seattle and where they were located. Maryann told me that after the holiday weekend, she would take me out to the field and show me where all of the villages were so I could meet the managers there and see the way the villages were set up.
Maryann was impressed that I volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission and she realized that I was well aware of the homeless situation in Seattle. I didn’t tell her about Jordan yet, but I did tell her that my current boyfriend also volunteered at the Mission. Seeing the Tiny House villages made me realize how much work had to be done to help curb the homeless problem and it made me realize over and over again how blessed I was with my apartment and my life.
It also reminded me a lot of Jordan and his situation. I thought of him a lot. I felt a distant pain thinking about that he never got the opportunity to become a tenant of a tiny house or a tenant of any other place really. If things would have been different, Jordan would have lived with me. I would have persuaded him to go to rehab because I had wanted a future with him. I often thought of Jordan and I was certain I would always think of him. He had awakened me in so many ways and he was the reason I now lived my true self and wasn’t ashamed anymore of how I felt about certain men. He really was also the reason I was with Toby.
My first few days at work were followed with a four-day weekend for Independence Day. Toby and I drove to the coast and spent our long weekend there. We had booked into a hotel with disability accessibility and enjoyed a romantic getaway. Toby and I were in love and we couldn’t get enough of each other.
The Mission wasn’t as busy in July. It was warm and lots of the homeless people stayed out on the streets or in their tent camps. We had less guests and I now only went in on Saturdays. Usually I stayed at Toby’s place on Friday night and on Saturday we both went to the Mission.
I had brought some of my things and clothes to Toby’s apartment, so on Mondays I could just go to work from there.
The weather was gorgeous as I got up on August fifteen. It was my brother’s and Amber’s wedding day. I had spent the night at my place because my dress was there and I didn’t want to bother Toby with all my preparations. I had to help Amber with her wedding dress. A photo shoot was scheduled at noon before we would head to the church.
I was on my way to their place at seven thirty that morning; my brides maid dress on a hanger and in a bag and my shoes in a box in the back seat of my car. I had all the things I needed and I was excited even though a bit tired still. My Starbucks coffee was steaming in the cup holder, filling my car with freshly brewed coffee smell. As I drove through the city, the sun was already high and I knew, it was going to be a beautiful day.
Chad and Amber were up and sitting over breakfast when I got there. Both were still in their lounge clothes, enjoying the last hour or so in comfortable clothing. We greeted each other with hugs and I plopped down on a chair at the table with them.
I smiled. “The big day is here!”
Chad nodded and took Amber’s hand on the table. “Sure is.”
Amber smiled weakly, replying, “Oh my God Shay, I’m so nervous but also happy.”
Chad squeezed Amber’s hand, assuring his future wife, “It’ll be the best day, baby. Don’t worry about a thing. We got this.”
We chatted for a little while, before it was time to get ready. I helped Amber into the dress and the hair stylist showed up at nine thirty. The stylist was very professional and quick, braiding flowers and pearls into Amber’s long dark hair and pulling it up into a beautiful creation.
She also did Amber’s make up and when it was all done, Amber looked amazing. She was a beautiful bride. I was so happy for her.
My parents had come over and while my dad was admiring the garden, my mom was cleaning up in the kitchen some, making sure everything was done so Amber didn’t have to worry about anything at all. When Amber and I came down the stairs, my parents were sitting with Chad in the living room. Chad got up and stared in disbelief at Amber as she carefully took the steps down with me holding up the train of her dress. I could see very obvious my brother’s admiration for his beautiful bride.
Chad looked amazing as well, elegant and attractive in his trendy grey tuxedo. My parents were very happy and I felt so much joy seeing my family like this.
My maid of honor dress was of a lavender color and matched with Chad’s tie and pocket handkerchief in his suit. On Amber’s dress, tiny flowers in lavender and yellow were stitched into the corsage, matching with the brides’ maid’s dresses.
The photo shoot was taking place at “The Aboretum” in Seattle. We met the bride’s maids, best men and the photographer there. It was the perfect day for the photo shoot, we had fun and it was a wonderful event. Amber’s and Chad’s love was clearly visible and obvious in every shot; they were natural and happy and I was sure the portraits would be wonderful memories of a special day.
With the photo shoot, a big part of the day was done and before we headed out to the church, we had once more a quick rehearsal at the park, making sure everyone knew their positions and what they had to do.
I called Toby before we headed to the church; he was ready and was going to meet me at the church. The wedding ceremony took place at the Catholic Church close to where my parents lived. It was also the church we had been attending when we were kids and where we had received all the sacraments.
I was in the back room with Amber and working on her dress when my mom came in. I was squatting on the floor, adjusting the train of the dress.
“Shay, honey, Toby just got here.”
I scrambled to my feet.
“Where is he?”
Mom replied, “He’s out in the church already.”
I turned to Amber and she smiled.
“Go on, go out there really quick and say Hi to him.”
I didn’t wait around and as Mom turned to Amber, I hurried outside to see Toby. My parents had met Toby over one of the dinners at Chad’s and Amber’s house. From the first moment they had liked him and were very happy for us.
I went out into the church nave where all the wedding guests were finding their assigned seats. I looked around, and on the side towards the back, I spotted Toby looking around slightly insecure. I hurried over to him, in passing, greeting a few relatives with smiles and quick “Hello’s” and “Good to see you”. When I had almost reached him, I said his name.
He looked over and smiled. With his eyes on me the whole time, I approached him.
Toby looked dapper in the suit that he had bought especially for the occasion. I just stood there and looked at him with a smile, admiring him dressed up.
He sat there in his TiLite wheelchair, looking absolutely perfect and attractive. He was clean shaven; his hair was combed and stylish; his hair cut had just been done the day before.
His eyes were bright and green as he shook his head, saying softly, “You look amazing, Shay.”
I smiled and replied, “You look amazing too.”
I walked up to him and leaned down for a kiss.
He asked, “So how’s everything going?”
“It’s all going well, no dress malfunctions, nothing we forgot, everyone showed up, photo shoot was so fun and beautiful, I think we’re ready to get these two lovebirds hitched.”
Toby laughed and I enjoyed so much seeing him laugh, the wrinkles in the corners of his eyes obvious.
Carefully not to step on my dress or stumble in my heels, I squatted down next to him and steadied myself holding his knee. He put his hand on my hand.
I looked up at him, “I missed you last night.”
“I missed you too.”
I kissed the back of his hand and took a deep breath, “I’m so happy you’re here. Let me show you where your assigned spot is.”
Toby didn’t know anyone there. Most of my relatives had not met him yet or even knew about Toby. As we made our way through the church toward the front, I didn’t miss a few curious glances at him. Toby was a pro in ignoring any strange looks he got from people, it didn’t faze him one bit. He was used to it.
I showed Toby where his spot was in the second row, next to a pew where some of our closer relatives were going to sit. With that, Toby had unobstructed view to the front of the church and I could see him and he could see me during the ceremony. He wasn’t in the way of anyone either.
We had discussed this beforehand; Toby wanted to stay in his wheelchair and not get into a seat in a pew. He thought it would have been too much hassle to transfer from his wheelchair into a pew. He didn’t want to risk messing up his suit or even tear it or have some other malfunction.
I didn’t have much time to spend with Toby and even though I didn’t like leaving him all by himself, I had to get back to Amber and the other brides’ maids.
I leaned down to Toby again and hugged him.
He wrapped his arms around me and I said next to his ear, “I’ll keep looking at you when I’m up there.”
He smiled and replied, “Okay.”
“I wish I could sit with you.”
Toby said, “You, my sweet Shay, have an important job today and you don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine, I can handle it and after the ceremony, we’ll sit together the rest of the day.”
I nodded in his embrace and planted a kiss on his cheek, then looked at him, “I love you.”
He smiled, “I love you too. Now go and fulfill your Maid of Honor duties!”
I laughed, “Yes, sir.”
Toby grinned, “I really like the sound of that.”
He patted my behind as I stood up. I laughed and kissed him again, then hurried to the back to help Amber with the finishing touches before her dad would pick her up and get ready for the beginning of the ceremony and walking her down the aisle.
All the brides’ maids and best men were lined up in the front of the church. Chad was standing there between the best men and brides’ maids, looking attractive and very happy.
The guests were seated and when the music started, all the mumbling and muttering in the church faded and eventually stopped. All heads turned toward the aisle in anticipation of the bride and her dad coming in through the large double door and walking down the aisle. The priest and altar servers walked in first. They took their positions on the pulpit, the priest in front of the altar and the altar servers over on the side.
I looked at my brother and he met my eyes. I smiled at him with a nod, then I looked down to Toby. His eyes were on me and I smiled at him too. I felt so much joy at seeing him right there.
Amber looked absolutely stunning as her dad walked her down the aisle to the music. Everyone looked on in silence and there were smiles and tears on people’s faces. She had the veil over her face, holding the flower bouquet in her hand in front of her chest. With her arm slung through her dad’s arm and looking happy and secure, she slowly made her way up toward the front of the church. She looked like she was floating since we couldn’t really see her feet.
Her best friend’s two little daughters in beautiful matching dresses were scattering flower petals on the path in front of Amber. It was the cutest thing to watch them. We all looked at Amber as she arrived at the front and her dad ceremonially gave her into Chad’s tenure. My brother’s face was filled with absolute pride and joy. I was so happy for him and tears already came up in my eyes. I had made sure that my eye make-up was waterproof because I knew I would be shedding tears.
Throughout the ceremony, I was so moved, I cried and I kept looking at Toby, making sure he was there and searching for his eyes, for his confirmation and for his assurance. He was there and even though I wasn’t sitting next to him, just seeing him there, made me less anxious. He nodded at me a few times and it gave me strength to get through this. The ceremony was beautiful and lined with meaningful readings, moving music and the honest and emotional wedding vows, Chad and Amber exchanged.
Chad slipped the ring on Amber’s finger, she slipped the ring on Chad’s finger and at command of the priest, they fell into a kiss, sealing their marriage with everyone cheering and clapping. I looked over to Toby and he nodded at me, while he was clapping his hands. I blew him a hand kiss. He smiled and metaphorically caught my kiss in the air with his hand, then put his fist to his mouth.
The reception was at a ballroom not far from the church and I rode over there in Toby’s car. We talked about the ceremony and how nice it had been.
There was a champagne reception as we got to the venue. People stood around with Champagne glasses and chatted happily. I greeted some of my relatives and also introduced Toby. Everyone was friendly, but I didn’t miss a few curious glances from some people.
Inside the ballroom, we took our assigned seats at one of the two brides’ maids tables, joining some of them with significant others as well. A chair had already been removed for Toby; I was relieved that this had not been forgotten.
Toby was able to roll up to the table and take his spot next to me. We introduced each other to the people at the table and soon chatted about the ceremony and how everything had gone well. All the brides’ maids were Amber’s friends.
Amber and Chad sat at the head table with their parents on either side of them. The venue was beautifully decorated and I prided myself with having picked out and created some of these decorations with Amber. So far, everything had been a full success.
The five-course meal was delicious; there were no mishaps or mistakes. Everything ran smooth. After dinner and as tables were cleared, some friends took to the podium and said some words, recited poems and anecdotes or told jokes about either Amber or Chad or both. We laughed, we cheered and it was entertaining and fun. The DJ started his program and soon there was the first dance of Amber and Chad as a married couple.
Toby and I stood on the side of the dancefloor watching them dance to a song they had picked out. It was beautiful and I could just feel the love in the room and the love Chad had for Amber and the other way around. Everyone was immersed in watching the two or snapping photos, including the professional photographer, who had been following the whole day with his camera, capturing moments and situations of this special occasion.
As I stood there, Toby tugged on my hand and I realized he wanted me on his lap. I slipped out of my high heels and took them to my seat, leaving them under the chair. It felt good to be out of the heels. I was barefoot and pulling my dress up some, I carefully scrambled onto Toby’s lap. I held on to his neck as I always did and my legs hung over the side of his wheelchair, my naked feet sticking out from under my dress.
We watched Amber and Chad finish their dance and then Amber’s dad snatched her from Chad’s arms and Chad took our mom and the parents danced with their children. One by one, other couples joined them on the dancefloor.
Toby had his arms around me and we watched everyone on the dance floor. We looked at each other and as our eyes locked, we fell into a kiss.
I felt so much for Toby. I was so happy to be there with him.
After the kiss, Toby asked, “How important do you think the initial wedding dance is for newlyweds?”
I smiled and took a deep breath.
“It’s a beautiful thing, but I never saw myself actually dancing like this with my…with my husband.”
Toby tipped his head to the side, “No – what did you see?”
I lowered my eyes and shyly looked back up at Toby, “I never saw my forever kind of guy walking or standing. He was never on his legs.”
I felt my heart beat speed up at saying these things.
Toby kept his eyes on me and ran his fingers over my cheek.
He smiled and asked, “So how was your forever kind of guy? What did you see?”
I lowered my eyes again, “I saw someone like you, I imagined him just like you and myself just like this, on his lap, feeling his paralyzed legs under my thighs, hearing the soft squeaks of his wheelchair when he shifted, feeling the rigid wheelchair frame on my legs, feeling so very close to him and like I never wanted to be anywhere else.”
I looked at Toby and he smiled at me warmly and with his hand on my cheek, he said, “I love you Shay.”
“I love you.”
We kissed again for a long time sitting right there on the edge of the dance floor.
I eventually did dance with my brother, my dad and even with Amber. Eventually lots of guests were dancing and laughing and everyone was having a great time. Toby stayed on the edge of the dancefloor and watched as I danced and laughed. As the night got later, I felt the wine and champagne work in my veins; everyone was carefree and light hearted fun was had on the dancefloor.
Outside the ballroom was a large patio and it was after midnight when I took Toby’s hand, “Let’s go outside.”
The night was still warm and it was comfortable outside. People were standing outside having wine and champagne, chatting and laughing. Smiling at them we walked by and further away from the noise. I found a quiet corner; Toby came rolling behind me.
I was leaning on the railing of the large patio watching him roll closer. The music and laughter from inside reached us in a muffled tone. I had two glasses of wine in my hands and when Toby parked in front of me, I handed him his.
We tapped our glasses and I said, “To a successful wedding for Amber and Chad and many happy years together for them.”
Toby nodded and we drank.
I smelled summer and a warm breeze grazed my bare arms. Sometime during the evening, Toby had taken off his jacket and sat there in only his button up shirt.
He set his glass on the railing and unbuttoned the top two buttons, remarking softly, “I hope it’s okay.”
I nodded and gazed at him dreamily, “Of course, makes it easier for me once we get home.”
Toby laughed and we drank again. We were both buzzing with the alcohol we had consumed throughout the evening.
Toby asked, “So you’re happy with the wedding and how everything went?”
I nodded, “I’m very happy, it was a complete success. It was exactly what I had pictured and what I had wanted for my brother and Amber.”
I sat down on a bench nearby. Toby put his wine glass between his thighs and very gently pushed his rims, rolling over to me slowly. He handed me the glass and I took it from him, realizing he was about to transfer next to me onto the bench.
I watched in admiration as my boyfriend transferred from his wheelchair and landed next to me on the bench. He adjusted his position and his legs in front of him. I moved closer to him. He put his arm around me and I handed him his wine glass. We tapped our glasses again and drank.
I rested my head on Toby’s shoulder and we looked out into the park. It was lit up by some lanterns, casting sketchy light and shadows over trees and plants. There were rustling noises in the bushes and the music was muffled in the background. Animal sounds from night critters echoed from far away. The sky was clear with a crescent moon and billions of stars visible.
I said softly, “I want to be with you for a long time, Toby.”
He replied, “We will be together for a long time. I want nothing more than that.”
He drank a sip from his glass and added softly, “I’m glad you never pictured to actually dance at your wedding. Takes a lot of pressure off me.”
I laughed softly and added, “You know how people sometimes say that we should be dancing through life.”
Toby nodded, “Yeah.”
I laughed, “Well, I think it’s unrealistic, you can’t dance through life all the time, it would be super exhausting and tiring. No one can always dance.”
Toby smiled, “Yes.”
I took a deep breath, “Well, I think rolling through life is a lot less exhausting and that’s the route I want to go. I would rather roll through life sitting on your lap.”
I looked at Toby and he laughed softly, “Okay, I think that’s doable.”
We were laughing together.
“I love you Shay.”
I smiled at him, “And I love you.”
We fell into a long kiss under a star filled sky. We didn’t know yet, but in our life, Toby and I were going to see lots of crescent moons, full moons, quarter moons and half-moons. We were going to see those in many different places in the world, but in that night, we didn’t know yet. Only one thing was clear in that night, we were going to be together for a long, long time.
Three months later in November, shortly before Jordan’s one-year death anniversary, we sat together with Amber and Chad over dinner in a restaurant in downtown Seattle.
As we sat over dessert and wine, Amber took Chad’s hand and they both looked at each other.
I didn’t think anything of it at first but then Chad said, “So we have to tell you guys something.”
I had no clue what this was about and looked at them curiously. Toby glanced at me from the side and I felt his hand on my thigh.
Chad smiled and looked at Amber, “You tell them!”
I felt my hands tremble and Amber started, “So, we wanted to tell you guys first…”
I nodded expectantly, now having a slight idea of what this was possibly about.
I didn’t say anything but waited patiently as Amber announced, “I’m pregnant.”
My jaw dropped and I let out something like a surprised laugh, “Oh my God.”
Toby smiled next to me and replied, “That’s awesome.”
My eyes welled up with tears and I got up to hug Amber and Chad.
“I’m so happy for you guys. This is wonderful.”
We fell into a hug and Toby reached over to shake Chad’s hand and then Amber came over and hugged him.
I dabbed my tears with a napkin and said, “This is so awesome, I’m so happy and I’m…oh my gosh, I’m going to be an aunt.”
I looked at Toby and he smiled at me.
Chad then said, “And we wanted to ask you something else.”
I stared at him and nodded, “Yeah, what?”
Chad’s expression was warm and he explained, “We wanted to name it Jordan, boy or girl. It would go with either. If it’s a girl maybe we can do Jordan with a “y”.”
Tears now streamed out of my eyes. They weren’t tears of pain, but of joy. I felt so many emotions.
Chad added, “Only if you would be okay with it.”
Toby looked over at me and I saw his concerned expression, but with tears in my eyes, I smiled.
“I’m okay with it, it would be wonderful. It would make me very happy.”
Chad held Amber’s hand on the table and they both nodded, “Good.”
Toby took my hand in his and gently ran his other hand over my back as my tears subsided.
It was wonderful news that my brother and Amber were expecting a baby.
Amber smiled and said, “So Shay, you know what your next duty is?”
I laughed and replied, “A baby shower?”
Amber nodded, “Yes, I would be so happy if you could take this on with my sister.”
“I would be honored.”
My heart jumped of joy and I nestled myself to Toby, who had his arm around me and kissed my cheek as we set there tapping our wine glasses in celebration of the wonderful news.