Monday, December 11, 2023

The Greatest Gift

A Dallas Demons Holiday Short-Holly and Matt

    “How are you doing?” Matt asks, affectionately placing a hand on my back and stroking it. “Do you need to step out for some air?”

                I gaze up at my husband, whose beautiful blue eyes reflect nothing but concern for me. We have been at the Demons’ holiday party for about a half-hour now, and while my social anxiety isn’t cured, I find I’m managing it better with all the techniques that I have learned in therapy for the past few years.

                But this time, I’d like to be alone with Matt for a different reason.

                “Do you remember the terrace where you found me having that awful anxiety attack? On that New Year’s Eve?”

                “Of course I do. That was the night that changed everything between us,” he says, his voice soft at the memory of it.

                “Can we go back there for a few minutes?” I ask, my heart thumping excitedly inside my chest.

                “Are you okay?” Matt asks quickly, his brow furrowed in deep concern. “Are you feeling any symptoms?”

                “I am,” I say, although not the ones Matt is thinking of.

                Matt immediately takes my hand and leads me through the crowded living room of people eating and drinking and having fun. People stop us to greet us, but Matt smiles and says we’ll be right back. I know his mission right now is to help me, and it makes what I’m about to tell him even that much more special because of the love this man has for me.

                He opens the French doors that lead to the terrace. I stare at the familiar scene in front of us,  that of a lush manicured garden, one illuminated with strategically placed lights to show off its beauty in the darkness.

                We are greeted by a blast of chilly air, and Matt immediately stops walking. He slips out of his suit jacket, draping it over my arms, just as he did the night of my anxiety attack.

                “Same bench?” He asks, relinking his hand with mine.

                I love that he remembers every detail of that fateful night, too. The night that brought love into our lives, a love that will last a lifetime together.

                “Yes,” I say, thinking that is the perfect spot for what I’m going to say.

                Matt escorts me down the steps and into the gardens. We follow the same path we did a few years ago, past the same boxwood bushes, and he guides me to the same stone bench where he claimed my heart forever.

                And just like last time, he drops down in front of me, placing his hands over mine and rubbing them gently.

                “Breathe, Baby,” he whispers.

                “Matt,” I say, “The symptoms aren’t related to anxiety.”

                His deep blue eyes stare intently into mine. “They’re not?”

                Emotion swells in my throat, and I know I’m going to choke up with what I have to tell him. I place my hands on his handsome face, lovingly caressing it as I gaze at him.

                “You know how we’ve tried now for a year to have a baby,” I say, my voice thick.

                “Holly,” Matt says, squeezing my hands tight, “you know I’m all right if that doesn’t happen. We can try whatever path we choose if we want a family. The main thing is you. That’s all I care about. How you can manage fertility treatments with your anxiety. I know we said we’d wait a year before re-evaluating. I know this month is at that point. But the main thing here is that I love you. You are what matters most to me, Baby. And whatever will make you healthy and happy is what I want to do, okay?”

                Tears of love for Matt slip from my eyes, and he quickly reaches up to wipe them away.

                “It kills me to see you hurting so much,” he says, his own voice growing thick.

                “What if,” I say, my voice still wobbly, “I told you these were tears of joy?”

                “What?” he whispers, his eyes locking on mine.

                “Matt,” I say, breaking into a smile, “I didn’t dare think it could be true, but I was late this month. I waited a few weeks, and I took a pregnancy test this morning. Then I took four more. We’re pregnant, sweetheart. We’re going to have a baby.”

                Matt stares at me in utter shock. He doesn’t speak for a moment. “We’re … you’re … ”

                I nod excitedly. “We are. We are going to have a baby.”

                The biggest smile I have ever seen lights up his gorgeous face. “A baby.”

                I grin. “Yes.”

                He immediately pulls me to my feet, framing my face in his hands. “We are going to have a baby.”

                I laugh. “Yes.”

                A huge burst of laughter escapes him. “Oh, my God. I don’t freaking believe it. We’re going to be parents!”

                A flicker of concern fills me. “The only thing is it’s very early. Things can happen.”

                “Don’t be afraid,” Matt says, shaking his head. “I know things can happen. But things cannot happen, either. “

                His hand slides slowly to my stomach. Tears spill from eyes again as I put my hand over his.

                “A baby,” he whispers. “God, how I love you. I think of it every morning how lucky I am to have you as my wife. And I promise I’ll be the best father I can be for our child.”

                I smile at him. “I have no doubt about that. I always saw who you were, Matt, even before you did.”

                He lifts his hands to my face and lowers his forehead to mine. “You did. As I saw you.”

                Matt’s mouth finds mine, and he opens it for the sweetest kiss I’ve ever known. One that is gentle. Full of love.

For both me and our child.

                I break the kiss and thread my fingers through his golden curls. “I know it’s early to say this, but Merry Christmas, my love.”

                A brilliant smile lights up his face. “You have given me the greatest gift with this news. Merry Christmas, Baby.”

                As he kisses me again, in this garden that holds such significant meaning for us, I feel love. Love for him. Love for our unborn child.

                And I feel nothing but happiness and joy about the baby that will come into our lives next year.

                Merry Christmas, indeed, I think happily. 

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