Chapter 32 - Epilogue
She was pacing back and forth due to nerves. She wasn't nervous about marrying the person who was practically already her wife, no, that was the easy part. Oh, so easy. She was nervous about her vows. She really didn't want to mess it up. And if she felt that way, she couldn't imagine how nervous her public-speaker-phobic, wife-to-be felt.
Somehow this day felt more important than their first wedding day ever did.
She loved their wedding, she loved being married to Callie, but between the pastor's cancelation, Callie's mom, and Callie's father missing until after the ceremony, something made the whole thing seem like a compromise in retrospect. Even the proposal was somewhat of a compromise.
Not today. It's not that this time around it was some grand proposal, unless you consider Spain, but it didn't have to be. Them, sharing an intimate moment, talking from the heart, that's all it took. Nothing was a compromise about that. And this time, they also had a pair of the cutest flower girls a person could find, and the pair was about to walk hand in hand down the aisle. Arizona smiled widely thinking about the cute dresses they all picked together for Sofia and Tamara.
Just as the nice visual materialized in her mind, a sharp flash light nearly blinded her.
"Mom! Stop it, you are distracting me, you've seen this before," Arizona whined. Her mom wouldn't stop snapping photos, and Arizona just needed a few moments, to gather her thoughts, repeat her vows, and get the makeup artist to finish her half done make up.
"No, honey, last time everything was almost perfect, but this time…" her mom tried to explain.
"I know," Arizona said quietly, and even though just a moment ago she was adamant about kicking her mom out of the room, Barbara didn't miss the shine her words brought to Arizona's eyes.
Arizona's phone, which was on the makeup table, notified a new message just came in. April, who was the closest one, was the first one to see the photo on the screen and react.
"Oh my gosh! Tamara looks adorable!"
"Let me see!" Sofia said and jumped off the couch she was sitting on.
"Hmm, hello, I believe this is my phone with a photo addressed to me by my fiancé," Arizona complained as Sofia, April and Barbara all gathered around the phone and gushed.
"Nothing?" Arizona asked, "no one cares what the bride has to say?
"Oh come on mama, she's my sister," Sofia said.
"That might be true but I carried her for you for nine months!"
"Yeah but mama that was ages ago! She's been out of you longer than she was in you!" Sofia countered and Arizona groaned.
The comment reminded her of the conversation Callie and she had with Sofia a couple of months before and it made her groan again. Watching Tamara growing by the day from so close by, made Sofia curious about anatomy, and biology, and all sorts of things that forced the couple to sit Sofia down for the talk. The same one they thought they'd be able to avoid for a couple more years.
"They grow up so fast!" Barbara said, still melting at Tamara's photo.
"Don't I know it," Arizona said bitterly and started pacing again, memorizing in her head.
"I'm so proud of you two, Arizona," April said.
"Thanks, April," Arizona replied, trying to not be rude but secretly irritated at the constant interruptions. All she wanted was to not mess up the vows she was about to say to Callie, why was the world against her?
Arizona loved Sofia, but right now, she was jealous of Callie for having the daughter who didn't speak yet as company. Didn't speak much, anyways.
"I'm serious," April continued, oblivious the Arizona's irritation. "What you guys have done is amazing. Just think about it. You guys were at the point of no return."
"April, kid in the room," Arizona warned.
"I'm not a kid anymore, mama," Sofia protested.
"She's not a kid anymore, Arizona," Barbara teased.
'World. Against. Me,' Arizona thought. But she didn't actually believe her own thoughts. The world was so on her side for two years now.
"Yeah, kid in the room, but the kid should know how amazing her mothers are," April insisted and Arizona finally listened to what April was trying to say.
"Sof, your mothers tried so hard to fix something. But they just couldn't and that's human, and it happens and admitting so is hard and brave. But then time passed, and they tried to do something together for the sake of all of you, even if they weren't actually together anymore, and they magically turned that point of no return, that irreversible thing into something reversible, something incredible," she concluded and Arizona felt tears coming down her cheeks. She was happy she was only half way done with her makeup.
"It's because they are special, auntie April," Sofia stated and Arizona burst into a whole hearted laughter that turned into a sob a moment later.
"What is it, honey?" Barbara asked, though she had a suspicion.
"I'm getting married to the love of my life for the second time. A second time that feels like a first time. And I have two amazing, beautiful daughters, and Tim isn't here to see it," Arizona said and her mother nodded in understanding and walked towards Arizona to wrap her in her arms. This was exactly why the colonel decided to await his ceremonial role outside. But it didn't stop Sofia and April from joining the group hug.
"And at least last time Mark was here," Arizona sobbed, "but now…"
"Daddy?" Sofia asked.
"Yes, honey, your daddy. He walked your mommy down the aisle to me, and they both looked beautiful," she concluded with a nostalgic smile.
"Today will be better," Sofia decided.
"Yes, it will," Arizona agreed and they all broke the hug.
Barbara, who knew her daughter could easily feel suffocated, decided to give her some space.
"I'll go check on your father, sweetie," she said. "Do you want anything?"
"No, thanks, mom, I really just wanna go through my vows."
"Okay, honey. Sof, do you want to come with me and look for your grandfather?"
"Can I stay, mama? I wanna hear your vows."
"Of course, sweetie, you were gonna hear it soon enough anyways."
"I want to hear it first," Sofia insisted.
"Okay, we'll come back in a few minutes," Barbara said, dragged April out by the elbow, and left mother and daughter alone.
Arizona's phone beeped again and this time she was the first one to see the picture of Tamara that Callie send her.
"Your sister is cute," Arizona confirmed.
"The cutest," Sofia agreed, "but you need to do your vows!"
"Okay, baby girl, okay!" Arizona said and turned to look at herself in the mirror. Sofia was sat behind her and looked into the mirror as well.
"Calliope," she started, "we chose this day because two years ago today we decided to become a family again even if we didn't know that that's what it meant yet. I never thought, never dared to dream that we'd be here again. And dream is the most fitting word, because you are the only one whom ever made me dream about this kind of future. When we weren't together, I couldn't even imagine it with anyone else, I just figured it was one dream that I'll never wrap my fingers around. But that wasn't true. It's just that this specific dream was only meant for you. I'm only meant to wrap my fingers around yours," she said and checked Sofia's reaction in the mirror. Her daughter smiled and nodded, encouraging her to continue.
"We made so many mistakes in the past, and I know we'll make some more. We are smarter, and stronger, but we're not perfect. But I know that you will let me make my mistakes, and you'll forgive me for them, just like I'll forgive yours. And I also know that you make me want to be a better person, all the time. A better partner and a better mother and even a better doctor. But mostly, you simply make me dream again. After years of letting the universe pave my way, I'm reaching out to it and demanding what I want, and you did this. You did this, and so many other things. You brought us here."
"For this, for your heart that is the kindest heart I know, for your love, for the huge TV screen you brought with you when you moved back in, and for a million other reasons, I want to marry you. I want to marry you so badly, that I would marry you every single day if I could. I love you more than I've ever loved anyone," Arizona said and heard a cough behind her. "Except, for our two beautiful girls," Arizona added and saw the satisfied look on Sofia's face. "I'm here today to tell you, that I will always be there for you, I will always listen to you, and ask you how your day was, and always love you. Do you believe me?"
There was only one way for Callie to answer that question.
Callie wanted to throw up. Except, she wasn't allowed to throw up. She smelled like lavender, which was Arizona's favorite scent, and her makeup was nearly perfect. She was adamant to keep her divine scent, by, for instance, not throwing up.
She was so happy, so truly excited, she almost didn't think about the fact that she had to recite memorized words in front of an audience of people.
'It's only gonna be Arizona and me,' she told herself. 'Look into the blue eyes. Those blue eyes are the only thing that matters.' And it was, for the most part, but then a flash light from her father's camera hit her straight in the face, reminding her that it wasn't just her and the blue eyes, and bringing the nausea back in a tenfold.
"Daddy, stop it, I really need a moment and this isn't my first wedding," Callie whined, making Addison snort.
"Calliope, I'm going to take as many pictures as I want and you're going to pretend to like it. Last time I wasn't here for this part," Carlos said, trying to sound indifferent, but his voice cracked.
"I know, daddy, I know," Callie admitted, and he could tell that she was feeling very emotional. She walked towards him and took his hands in hers.
"You're happy, mija, aren't you?" He asked tenderly and Callie could feel Addison's eyes boring into her back.
"I am. So, so happy, daddy. Everything is different this time. First of all, you are here," Callie said and heard a cough behind her. "And you are here," she added, turning to look at Addison. "And this wasn't on a whim, or with a pastor's cancelation, or a family drama…"
"Mija, your mother…"
"It doesn't matter, daddy. Look around us, just look," she said and gestured to Tamara. She raised her cell phone to take a photo of the girl and sent it to Arizona. "This baby girl is so gorgeous, she looks so much like her mama, and your other beautiful granddaughter is in the other room."
"And she looks exactly like you," Addison said and Carlos nodded in agreement.
"She does," Callie admitted. "I'm going to be married to the love of my life, and this time, we didn't even crash into a truck when she proposed to me," Callie chuckled, "and then there was Spain."
'Spain,' she thought. 'Spain was so great. And it will be great again, and way more naked than last time.'
"We lost you to lesbian land," Addison noted, clicking her fingers in front of Callie's face.
"I love lesbian land," Callie said and sighed in content. Carlos cleared his throat. "Sorry daddy. I got carried away. It happens a lot these days."
"I'm glad to hear," he admitted genuinely.
"I only wish Mark was here," Callie confessed sadly and looked at Addison who wiped a tear. "Last time he walked me down the aisle, and now he's not even here to see his daughter being the best flower girl of honor in the world."
"Flower girl of honor?" Carlos asked in confusion.
"Come on, daddy, she's the older one. We had to give her something higher in the hierarchy. Tamara never needs to know," Callie said.
"Oh, she'll know. If these girls are anything like their mother, they are going to be very sneaky," Addison stated.
"I'm not sneaky," Callie defended.
"Your blonde is," Addison said matter-of-factly.
"That she is," Callie said, "she most definitely snuck up on me. Years ago. And then she snuck up on me all over again," Callie said with a wide smile, making the other two adults in the room join her with smiled of their own.
"Mama!" Tamara squealed and Callie sighed.
"Sneaky Arizona decided long ago that she's the mama. Big surprise that she keeps gloating because both girls said mama first," she complained.
"That's cheating," Addison added.
"I know!" Callie agreed and her eyes fell on the papers holding her vows.
"Crap! All this talking and sentimentalism distracted me! Can you guys give me a few moments? I really need to go through this," Callie said, feeling the nausea coming back once more.
"I'll go see if Daniel and Barbara need anything," Carlos said and excused himself while Addison was picking a few things up.
"Okay, Tamster," Callie said, "you have your mama's face, so I'm just gonna pretend you are her, and if it gets weird, say 'it's gotten weird,' otherwise I'll just assume I can go on, okay?" Callie asked the baby.
"Cake!" was Tamara's reply.
"Seriously? She can say up to like five words at her age and this is one of them?" Addison snickered.
"You're pretending to judge but you are secretly extremely impressed," Callie deadpanned.
"That I am, my friend, that I am," Addison said, squeezed her friend's arm, and was about to leave the room but Callie stopped her.
"Stay," she said, "just in case I get all verbal diarrhea on this, but please, be quiet."
"Promise," Addison said and sat back down.
Callie took a breath, and picked Tamara up. She snapped another photo of her and sent it to Arizona. She then looked into Tamara's eyes. They were the same shade of blue as Arizona's. It calmed her down somehow, and she smiled.
"Your mama is so much better with words," Callie said to the baby, "but I'm going to do my best, because that's what she deserves. Here goes."
"Arizona," she started, "you and I… we're everything. And you, I can't quit you, and I know, because I tried. But you're unquitable. Just like that ass."
"Is that an actual part of it?" Addison asked.
"No, it's just my commentary for my own vows."
"Oh, sorry for the interruption, do continue with this inappropriate activity."
"Do keep your promise of being quiet," Callie noted and kept going.
"I know we've done this before, but nothing is the same. Or, more accurately, some of the good things are the same, some of the good things are brand new," she said and spun around with Tamara in her hands. The baby laughed in delight, "and the bad things? The bad things we work on constantly, and so hard, until some of them turn into good things and some of them become part of life. The part of life that doesn't feel like compromising. The part of life that feels like always striving for improvement. Which is how you make me feel about everything. I always want to be better, for our daughters, and for you. Because as you know very well, you inspire me. In a life altering way."
"I used to be married to the love of my life. And when she was gone, my heart broken into a million pieces. But now, I'm going to be married to my best friend, a friend I haven't had before, a friend whom also happens to be the love of my life. Someone who redefined what partnership meant to me. Someone who always has my back, if not with your own girly hands, then with a spa day, but either way, you are there for me so completely, and in so many ways I didn't know before, and I'm never letting you go."
"Aww…" Addison said quietly, not able to stop herself.
"Addison, you promised! Wait, are you crying?!"
"Allergies," Addison replied.
"Allergies of the heart, Callie! Allergies of the heart!"
"I'm gonna finish reciting my vows now."
"Please, go on," Addison said and blew her nose.
"You said you wanted to get to call me your wife again, because you wanted everything with me, and every day that I wake up next to you, I feel these words course through me stronger and stronger. And I know it'll never change. I know that. I'm not guessing that, I'm one hundred percent sure. After everything we've been through, and everything we came back from, there are many things I might doubt, but I'm never going to doubt you. I'm never going to doubt us."
"I love you, so much that it hurts sometimes. But it used to hurt so bad, and now it hurts so good."
"Might also be a bit on the inappropriate side," Addison noted.
"I don't care," Callie snapped. She was on a roll, she was almost done, and she didn't care what anybody else thought. This was for Arizona. This was for the blue eyes.
"I look at our daughters every day and what makes me the happiest when I do, is to see how much like you they are. It makes me so proud, and so filled with joy. I promise to be to you everything that you are to me, which is hard, because you and the girls are my whole world. I promise to always do what I can to make you feel the way you make me feel. I will be the person you can always lean on, but who in return will lean on you. I will want to know everything about you, and make sure you always know everything about me. I don't ever want anyone else to know me better than you do, and I know for a fact that no one else would want to always be by your side and love you as much as I do. It's not possible. And for those reasons, and so many more, I want to marry you. I'm always going to be here for you, and I'm always going to love you. Do you believe me?"
There was only one way for Arizona to answer that question.
And it was "I do."