Baby Jordan was born in May the following year; a healthy eight pound baby boy and I was the happiest and proudest aunt. I couldn’t wait to spoil him and be his favorite aunt ever. Soon after baby Jordan was born, Toby and I got engaged at our one-year anniversary as a couple in June. Our engagement party took place at the Union Gospel Mission and we celebrated with other volunteers and even some guests. Toby’s parents came up from Colorado. It was the first time I met them; they were great and got along perfect with my parents. It was a fun party and afterwards we spent a beautiful weekend on the San Juan Islands; it was romantic as can be.
With Toby’s support, I had decided to bury Jordan’s ashes in the same cemetery he had buried Romy. Both our lost loves were now entombed not far from each other in a memorial wall with lots of other urns of people’s remains. It enabled us to go to the same place to remember two special people we had loved very much. This connected Toby and me even deeper and stronger. I knew I would never have to visit Jordan’s memorial by myself because Toby would always be by my side, just as I would be by his side when he wanted to visit Romy. They had had such big impacts on our lives in letting us become accepting of who we are and with that, Jordan and Romy would forever remain in our hearts.
Our love blossomed and our bond was solid and deep. Our wedding was just as beautiful as my brother’s and Amber’s wedding. Our first dance was with me sitting on Toby’s lap with my arms wrapped around his neck and my head resting on his shoulder as he slowly spun his wheelchair on the dancefloor while “I am the Highway” by Audioslave played.
Toby whispered into my ear, “Are you ready to roll through life with me?”
I smiled on his shoulder, smelled his skin and his hair right there and replied, “I can’t wait.”
Toby nodded and smiled.
"I love you Shay!"
I kissed his cheek and mumbled, "And I love you!"
I didn’t notice everyone around us watching. I was the happiest girl on the planet in these moments.
We did encounter some rough patches in our marriage when after several unsuccessful attempts of in-vitro fertilization, we had to give up on the dream to have children of our own. This was a difficult time in our life and it was especially hard on Toby. He had always hoped that possibly he could still have children, but even though, I had always seen myself with children one day, I knew with Toby’s Paraplegia it could prove the be problematic. After lots of tears and heartbreak, we were able to close this chapter in our life and we never had children.
Our nephew Jordan and his baby sister Jessica, born two years after Jordan, were the light in our life though. Chad and Amber let us take part in their lives like we were their parents at times.
We travelled a lot in our life and saw lots of different places. Most of the planning was always focused on finding accessible hotels, places, and travel accommodations. Travelling was our passion though and we spent as much time outdoors as possible. Toby’s heart was still in the mountains and in nature and even though he wasn’t able to climb anymore, we still went up on the mountains even if we had to stay on the paths and were limited in our excursions.
Over all the years we stayed in touch with Charlie, he stayed in our life and we saw each other regularly. Charlie lived a peaceful and mostly healthy life in Portland, enjoying his grandkids and being able to be in his daughter’s life.
We had not given up hope to find Toby’s brother, Cal again. Charlie kept his eyes and ears open on the streets and was a loyal friend in trying to find Cal again.
One day the news of Cal’s death reached us. He had been found dead in Spokane where he had apparently been living on the streets and had died of a drug overdose as well. He was found with a leather band around his neck with a small rock tied into it. It was the counterpart of the small rock Toby carried around his neck from K2; the most challenging climb he had ever done on one of the highest mountains in the world. It was heart breaking for us, but at last we were able to bury Cal as well and his remains joined Jordan and Romy at the cemetery. Toby finally had closure with this.
Life is not all about fun and good times, there is lots of pain, despair and the knowledge that we as humans are not invincible and our time in this world is not very long. But in the time span we are here though, we need to make every moment count; we need to take all the chances, do all the things we desire, love with all our heart and cry when the pain is overbearing. We can’t look away when we see something bad; we shouldn’t ignore the unfortunate one’s and help if we can, at the very least we should spread love and kindness.
You don’t measure love in time.
You measure love in transformation.
Sometimes the longest connections yield very little growth, while the briefest of encounters change everything.
The heart doesn’t wear a watch – it’s timeless.
It doesn’t care how long you know someone.
What it cares about is resonance; resonance that opens it; resonance that enlivens it; resonance that calls it home.
And when it finds it, the transformation begins…