Caring Christopher

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#75 The rest of our lives start today

Christopher

“Ready?” Edward asks, smiling at me.

“More than ready,” I reply, looking around the garden. Everyone is here. Cameron and his kids, all of my friends, my parents, Abby’s friends, the neighbors, a few colleagues. The only person missing right now is the most important one of all. Abby. And the kids, of course, who are probably jumping out of their skin to walk down the aisle as well.

Francesca and Joshua start playing their guitars, a slow song that seems to scream love. I told them to just play whatever they wanted to, and I bet this is something they wrote especially for this day. I’ve got to ask them to record it for me, so it can be our song.

I see Shaughna open the backdoor into the kitchen, motioning for Davy to come out. He skips into the yard, his bright green eyes sparkling with joy. Aston made a joke last week about him being our flower girl, and Davy got really into the idea of throwing rose petals into the air, so we got him a wicker basket filled with flowers, and now he’s carefully distributing them down the aisle.

“Hi Dad,” he says when he reaches me, and he gives me a hug. “I like your suit.”

“I like your suit too,” I reply with a smile. He looks dapper in his tiny black tuxedo.

Next comes Yoah, looking serious as ever, holding two small boxes with the rings in them. They’re small golden bands that will fit against the ones Abby and I have been wearing since we got engaged, the date engraved on them, along with an infinity sign. Cheesy, maybe, but also kinda perfect. He stands next to Cam, who is my best man. With Cam, Yoah and Davy with me, and Edward officiating, it feels perfect. I’m ready to see Abby now. So ready.

Francesca starts singing softly while Joshua keeps playing guitar, and it’s like they wrote they took the words straight out of my heart. It’s a slow, beautiful song about love being worth the wait, and I tear up with Abby still nowhere in sight.

Shaughna catches my eye across the garden and she winks. She loves planning parties, and she organized Caroline’s wedding. When Abby saw the pictures of the way she decorated the garden for their wedding, she asked Shaughna to plan ours as well. All our friends pitched in, happy to help putting up fairy lights, blowing air into golden balloons, putting chairs on the freshly mowed lawn, and so on. I could have paid for a big fat wedding at a fancy location with my salary, but Abby and I both feel better right here, in the garden of our own house, with all the people we love surrounding us. The only person missing is Abby’s mother, who would be too confused about what’s going on. We did have dinner with her yesterday, and I know it was important to Abby to tell her that we’re getting married and to tell her about the boys, even though her mom didn’t understand any of it.

Then the backdoor opens again and Jagger steps out, Abby on his arm. He’s in a tux, his messy hair slicked back for the occasion, and he’s moving slowly and carefully, taking his job of walking Abby safely down the aisle extremely serious.

Abby looks… There’s no describing her. There are no words. Her hair falls in lose curls around her face, and she’s smiling so brightly that it must be hurting her face. Her dress is light pink, and the bodice is fitted, adorned with small beads and lace. The skirt is big and flowy, making her look like a princess. Her make-up is simple, as is her jewelry. A single diamond sparkles around her neck, but other than that, her engagement ring is the only piece of jewelry she’s wearing.

I can’t believe this woman is mine. To have and to hold, for the rest of my life.

Oh God, I’m already crying, and she’s still only halfway down the aisle.

“You okay, Daddy?” Davy asks from behind me, sounding worried.

“He’s just happy,” Yoah assures his little brother. “People cry when they’re happy.”

Jesus Christ, if I wasn’t a blubbering mess already, that small conversation between my kids would sure do me in. Abby reaches me, and Jagger kisses her on the cheek, taking her hand and putting it in mine. It sucks that she doesn’t have a father to walk her down the aisle, but I know she’s not feeling sad about that right now. Jagger being the one to walk her over to me is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

“You better treat her right,” he jokes, winking at me before stepping to the side, wiping at his eyes. Brittany is right next to him, putting an arm around him. She’s in a beautiful blue maid of honor dress, but she’s got nothing on Abby. No one is as pretty as Abby on a normal day, and today she’s shining brighter than ever before.

“Hey,” she says softly, tears in her eyes. “You look so handsome.”

“You look beautiful,” I say through my own tears.

“Okay, if the two of you can manage to stop crying for a moment,” Edward says with a smile, stepping forward. “I think we should get this show on the road.”

“Right,” I agree, holding Abby’s hands in mine, unable to let go. I’m never letting go of her. Never.

“Dear family and friends,” Edward says loudly, looking around the garden at everyone sitting on the fold-out chairs on either side of the aisle. “Today was a long time coming, and it’s finally here. We’re here to watch Christopher and Abigail promise each other their everlasting love. Chris has been my best friend for a few years now, and while he’s always been a happy, sweet guy, I’ve never seen him so happy and sappy as he is when he’s around Abby. And Abby…” He smiles at her, looking a little misty-eyed himself. “Abby is the kind of woman who lights up every room she walks into it, and she’s chosen to brighten Christopher’s days for as long as they both shall live. Nothing brings me greater joy than to join these two in holy matrimony.”

There I go again. He’s not kidding when he calls me sappy. I’ve been a mess all day, tearing up at every little thing. It’s a good thing Abby loves my emotional side, or she’d be running for the hills right now. No way am I making it through the ceremony without shedding a few more tears.

“Oh Chris,” she says, squeezing my hands. “Stop it. I don’t want to ruin my make-up.”

I hear my friends laughing, and smile at Abby, trying to pull myself back together.

“Abby and Chris have prepared their own vows,” Edward announces. “Let’s see if he can make it through his without breaking into tears, shall we?”

“Thanks, man,” I say, rolling my eyes at him. He just grins. I take a deep breath and lock eyes with Abby again. “Abby,” I start, my voice breaking already. “A year before I met you, I decided to stop trying to find a woman to complete me. I applied to become a foster dad. Fast-forward a couple of months, and these three lovely boys came into my life.” I look at Davy, Yoah, and Jagger, who all beam at me, looking just as happy as I feel right now. “I thought I was going to be a single dad for the rest of my life, and I was okay with that. Still, I needed some help to take care of them, and my friends convinced me a live-in nanny would be the answer to all my problems.”

“You’re welcome, dude!” Aston shouts from the back of the garden.

Everyone laughs, and I can hear Annabel telling him to shut up.

“You showed up and turned my life upside down, showing me that while love may not always come easy, it is definitely worth the wait.” I squeeze her hands and smile at the love I see in her gaze. “We’ve been through hell and back, but we made it through everything. You’re my rock. You allow me to be myself, which is, as we all know, a sappy mess.”

“You’re not a mess,” Abby replies, giggling. “Sappy, yes, but not a mess.”

“Like I said, you’re my rock,” I go on. “You’re so strong, which means I don’t always need to be. That may not sound like much, but it’s what has been missing from every single relationship I had before you. What had been missing from my life all those years. Someone to love me unconditionally, who I doesn’t need to be strong for, who doesn’t need me to be anyone but myself. Someone who truly thinks I’m enough. Just by being who you are, you make me stronger, and you show me every day that I am better than I thought I was.”

“You’re perfect,” she whispers, looking like she’s about to cry.

“No, I’m not, and neither are you, but that’s okay,” I tell her, taking a small step closer to her. “Life is messy, and so is our relationship, but I love that about us. You’re a beautiful, strong, resilient, caring woman, and I am so happy you want to spend the rest of my life with me.”

Yoah hands me the ring and I hold it for a moment, looking at the small golden band.

“Abby, I promise that I will be the best husband I can possible be. I promise to always listen to you, to cherish you, to own up to my mistakes, and work for your forgiveness when I need to. I vow to love you for as long as I shall live, and to show you that every single day. I promise to always pick you up when you stumble, to laugh at your silly jokes, and to give you the family you deserve.” I slip the ring onto her finger. “Will you have me?”

“Yes,” she says, smiling brightly. “I will.”

“Well, Abby, I doubt you can beat that,” Edward says, clearing his throat. “Your turn.”

She takes a deep breath and looks down at our intertwined hands before looking up at me with so much love than it almost undoes me.

“Chris,” she starts. “Christopher. My sweet, caring Christopher. When we met, I had lost all my faith in men. I thought that best case scenario, you’d be a decent employer, but boy, was I wrong.” She grins. “You are so much more than that. You restored my faith in men, but also… my faith in myself. You showed me that I’m worthy of love, and that life is so much better when you let people in. You’re the only man I’ve ever truly loved, and I vow you’ll be my last. My one and only.”

“Oh God,” I hear Brittany mumble, sounding like she’s close to tears.

“Shh,” Jagger says. “Shut up, Aunt Brittany. “

“I never had much family, and I’ve been through hell and back before I met you,” Abby goes on, sighing deeply. “You’ve lightened my load, Chris, and that is no small feat. You make me happier than I’ve ever been before, and you’ve made me a mother.” She chokes up and it takes a moment before she’s able to go on. “I never thought I’d be so lucky, but we’ve got three lovely kids now, and I’m sure they won’t be the only kids we’ll raise in this house. They may not be our flesh and blood, but we’ve proven that we can make our own family, build it out of love and hard work.”

She pulls her hand out of mine to take the ring from Yoah and slips it onto my finger. “I vow to never leave,” she says, and I can tell this promise means a lot to her. To me, too. She used to be the girl who ran when things got hard, but she’s not the same person she was back then. She’s still got all the lovely qualities she did back when I realized I had fallen for her, but she has let go of some of the darkness in her. “I promise to be your companion, your best friend, your wife, and the mother of every kid who needs us to be their parents. I vow to keep being your rock, and to keep loving every single part of you, including all the sappiness that you always get teased for. I love that about you. I can be a little rough around the edges, but you saw right through me from the start, seeing me for who I truly am. I see you too, Chris. All of you, the good and the bad. Which is exactly why I know that there is so much good in you. You’re the best person I’ve ever met, and I promise to show you just how much you mean to me every single day that we’re together, which will be the rest of our lives, since I am never letting you go. You’re stuck with me now, baby.”

“Gladly,” I reply, smiling.

“Chris, will you be my husband?” she asks, her voice a little wobbly with emotion.

“Of course,” I say, tugging at her hands so she’s a little closer to me.

“They both said yes!” Edward exclaims. “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss!”

We asked him specifically to not say You may kiss the bride, and we both smile at his words. Being told that the husband may kiss the bride wouldn’t feel right to either of us. We’re equals. It’s not just me kissing her, it’s both of us making the decision to lean in and kiss each other.

“Hallelujah!” I head Jaxon exclaim, making me smile against Abby’s lips. “Finally!”

“I love you,” Abby whispers before she kisses me again.

“So much,” I reply, letting my tears flow freely now. “I love you so damn much, Abby.”

She turns away from me and hold up our intertwined hands. “I’m Abigail Davids!” she yells. “I’m married!”

“Yeah you are, baby,” I agree, sweeping her into my arms and kissing her hard while our friends and family cheer. “You’re mine now. Forever.”

“I’ve been yours forever for a long time now,” she says sweetly. “Being your wife only solidifies that. It doesn’t change anything.”

“It changes everything,” Jagger says from behind us, and we turn to see him beaming at us. “Now that you’re officially Chris’ wife, you can adopt us.”

Abby steps away from me to hug our teenage son, holding him close. “I can’t wait,” she breathes. “I love you so much, Jagger.”

The other boys join in for a group hug, and I throw my arms around all of them. We’re a family now. And while I know that adding more members to this unit will be a challenge, we will do it, even if our path won’t be traditional. She’s mine forever now. We’ve got the rest of our lives in front of us, and we’ll never be without the other again.

This is without a doubt the happiest day of my life.

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