“Ready?” her crouching husband called. Their son, Willie, stood by her side, playing with Roscoe their Weiner dog. She wore a sweater, and had insisted the guys wore jackets. The bright sky had the crisp bite of autumn in it, and meant only one thing there in Auburn: the Fair was coming.
“Smile”. The camera flashed, its white light blinding her.
Suddenly there was her husband, still crouching, but this time younger, wearing his favorite denim jacket, his hair longer and fuller. They had just picnicked under a large oak near the Spencerville Covered Bridge. Slowly he reached into the pocket and pulled out the simple gold band and held it up to her. She had cried, nodded her head, and placed her hand outward…..
holding the results of her pregnancy test. They had been told they would never have children. She had been sick every morning for weeks, and this seemed to be the next logical step. A trip to the drugstore, and a ten minute wait while it processed. She raised it so they both could see. Her husband cried out “Woohoo! We did it! We’re having a….”
“puppy!” Willie squealed. The dark brown Dachshund puppy wearing the red ribbon on its collar yipped and licked the five year olds face. They became a tangle of child, brown fur, giggles and yips as they quickly became friends.
Delighted Willie began to make a list, “ We need a leash, an’ a bowl, an’ a ball. Oh Mommy, we don’t have….”
“much time.” The doctor frowned. “I’m very sorry”.
Tears filling their eyes, together they asked, “How long?”
“Maybe 3 months.”He paused. “I suggest you make the most memories you can with what time you have left. I’ll give you two a few moments alone.” He left the office and their world shrank around them. They held each other, grasping for each moment they had spent together, reaching for the memories not yet made, and struggled to accept that they would never see one another grow old as they had always planned.
They had decided only to tell Willie that Mommy would be going away for awhile but before she did, they wanted to do all sorts of things together. Willie had frowned when he thought of his mother going on a trip, but a wide eyed smile crossed his face when he thought of all the things they could do before she went. “Adventures!” He had grinned.
There had been a trip to the zoo, a big league ball game, the beach, and a long weekend of camping where they had cooked all of their meals over a fire. Last was the trip to her hometown so Willie could see where she had grown up.
She remembered running down the sidewalks of downtown after school, the very ones they were posing on now. She would fly down Seventh Street, her white Keds pounding on the pavement. She would turn right, and Mrs. Moore would be walking Lilly at the corner of 6th and Main. “Hi Lilly!” she would call as she sailed by.
Further down the block across the street sat Mary in front of her neighbor’s deli eating a sandwich. Her mother was a painter and had been commissioned to paint a picture of the Eckhart Library. She needed the evening light to paint by for the mood to be “just right” so Mary had to wait until after dark for actual supper. The sandwich was a little something to tide her over.
At this point she would nearly be out of breath as she bounded up the steps to the old YMCA. She would spend her time swimming, and maybe playing basketball if the big kids would let her. She had always dreamed of being in the Olympics, and she knew she had to be in tip top shape if she were to make it.
The memory caused her to close her eyes as a cool breeze blew her hair across her face. Smiling, she brushed the hair and the memory from her face, and looked at her husband still kneeling on the sidewalk in front of her.
“Haven’t you taken enough pictures here?” she laughed.
“Never” he smiled. “One more”. He fiddled with the focus. “Smile!”
A small click but the blink of bright light from the flash was missing. He turned the camera over and bit his lip, “Oh, we’re out of film” he frowned.
And nearly out of time, she thought. Her hands drew Willie close, and while hugging him, she closed her eyes, the small smile still on her lips.