Last night I had a dream.
I had been transported back in time.
Back before marriage, children, or housekeeping.
I found myself standing in a room at the bottom of a stairwell. It resembled a room in my childhood church. I stood there looking up the stair well.
Here he comes! The dream-version of myself smiled.
Andrew rushed down the stair well, took me by the hand and led me to a nearby pew.
In dream like fashion, what he was saying was muffled, but a moment later, he pulled a small box from his jacket pocket and opened it.
Next thing I knew I was wearing his ring.
“It was my great grandmother’s.” he explained smiling.
The ring was of a beautiful white gold, a band topped with a Celtic-style knot. In the center of the knot was a single diamond.
I felt so happy, so hopeful.
We had our whole lives ahead of us with so much to look forward to.
He went on speaking in a muffled voice.
I gazed out the window behind him. There, looking in the window was a man in a suit. He was tall, older than Andrew and myself.
The man stood bathed in sunshine and held on to two little boys with his work-worn hands.
He looked right at me. His expression was sad.
I felt as if I should know him.
But it was like a memory from another lifetime.
My attention was drawn back to Andrew, who was asking a question.
When I glanced back at the window, the man and his two little boys were gone.
Outside, the sunshine had turned to stormy rains. I felt sad for some reason, as if this stranger held part of me. And when he left he took part of me with him.
My dream fast-forwarded to an engagement party, held in the fellowship hall of the same church.
Andrew and I stood side by side near a cake table.
Church members walked by, shaking our hands, and giving us their best wishes. Andrew’s father took my hand, leaned close and whispered, “Andrew couldn’t have chosen better.” His mother looked down at her grandmother’s ring on my hand and smiled.
As I glanced around the room, his penetrating look caught my eye. Who is that man?
He stared right at me, never shifting his gaze.
His little boys weren’t sitting with him. I glanced around and saw them playing nearby.
When looked back at him, he was still staring.
I found him compelling and fascinating.
“Andrew?” I said, grabbing his arm, “Who is that man back there?” I motioned to the back corner.
“That’s Mr. Mitchell.” Andrew told me quickly, returning to his visit with one of the elderly church members.
That is not Mr Mitchell, I thought. Mr. Mitchell is over 80, and not nearly that good looking. I caught my breath and thought How dare you? You’re marrying Andrew! You should not be thinking about another man.
But for some unexplainable reason it didn’t seem wrong. In fact, it seemed strangely right.
I pushed the thoughts away and turned my attention back to my fiance as the man and his boys walked out the door.
My dream rushed forward in the hustle-bustle of wedding preparations.
Soon, it was my wedding day.
Dressed in all white, I sat on the pew in that room at the bottom of the stairs where Andrew had first proposed. My mother called my name. I rushed forward to the stair well.
I stopped, falling to my knees.
There on the step was a wedding ring with a rose of black hills gold.
This is my ring.
But it was not the one I was wearing. How could that be?
It all came flooding back to me.
The man with the two boys was my husband. The boys were my boys.
And I remembered.
The joy of being his wife.
Of holding my babies for the first time.
Of growing together.
The pain and heartache of daily life.
Of lost jobs.
Of unfulfilled dreams.
My mother’s voice called from upstairs again.
I could start all over. Do it differently. Fix my mistakes. The possibilities were endless. All I had to do was go upstairs and pretend I had never seen this ring. Pretend that the other life with that other man had never existed.
Then, I remembered how deeply I loved that man and those two little boys.
I leaned down and ran my finger around the never ending circle of lonely band.
I remembered the vows we spoke.
I remembered that I meant every word.
I snatched up the ring. Plucking Andrew’s ring off, I slipped the rose ring on.
It fit perfectly.
Behind me, I heard another voice calling my name.
I turned, and there he was.
I dropped Andrew’s ring onto the floor and rushed to my husband.
I wept as he swept me up into his embrace.
The church, Andrew, and my mother’s voice faded into nothingness. I awoke to find myself in my own bed.
The man I love was playing with my two little boys in our living room.
The life I live may be at times hard . It may not be all that I dreamed it would be when I was young.
But it was a good life.
I smiled, because I knew I was where I belonged.
Originally written in 2012