The first time you proposed, I laughed. But then, we were all of eight years old. The cherry blossom fell like confetti and my dress was lacy and white, save for grass-scuffed knees and the missing bow that we’d tied to the top of our maple tree fort.
The second time you proposed, we both wept. Beneath ‘our’ cherry tree, with salty kisses and breathless vows that we would wait; that, after the war was over and you came back home, we’d get married, right there, amid the swirling, dancing drifts of palest pink and white.
The next time you proposed, my love, was seven summers later, when they finally, finally found you – rescued your squadron from that unspeakable place and brought the shell-shocked, living ghost of you back to me. They were the only words you spoke – you didn’t even know you were home, or that I was really there. Your family chose a convalescent home, and again I promised I’d wait. There were as many tears as petals that Spring.
Therapy, countless prayers and visits spanned a youth missed, a chance of children fading, and a heartache as heavy as the tanks that had caused it. Time passed, but my love for you did not.
Then, the last time you proposed, I squealed so loudly that the medics had to shush me. You were holding the slender, budding twigs that I’d left in your room, in the lumpy, clay vase we’d made in Kindergarten; its finger paint colours as joyful as the smile on your face. Your eyes had lost their catatonic glaze, and you saw me – really saw me. The years dissolved in moments and it was as if your soul had at last re-inhabited your body. You laughed, and you had, finally, truly, come home.
So, this time, my love, I’m proposing. Right here, beneath our tree and the wind-whipped confetti of tiny, dancing blooms on this glorious spring day. We may be much older than we’d planned, but one is never too old for love, and it is cherry blossom time.