Stanley rushed down the stairs, hoping to catch his wife before she left for work. When he got to the kitchen he realized he was too late. She had let him oversleep, so he didn’t have a chance to wish her a happy anniversary.
Madison had left coffee warming in the pot, knowing that Stan would need the caffeine boost. So he walked over and poured himself a cup. He leaned against the counter sipping his coffee and he marveled at how this amazing woman could continue to love him even after these five years of marriage.
His morning routine was becoming all too comfortable. After being laid off three months ago thanks to cutbacks at the plant, finding work had become a daunting task. With each passing day he grew more discouraged, but Maddy was always there to lift him back up. She was always by his side with a word of encouragement and an undying optimism.
He sat at the kitchen table expecting to read the morning paper, but something else caught his eye. Under the newspaper was a book that he had never seen before. From what he could tell, it was some kind of scrapbook, filled with objects and papers. Madison must have left it sitting there.
Stan remembered that Madison had been quite fond of scrapbooking back before they got married. She and her friends would get together and create elaborate scrapbooks chronicling their times in high school and in college. He thought it strange that, once they had wed, she seemed to stop all together. At first he tried to encourage her to get back into it, knowing how much she had loved it. But she always made excuses about not having the time or the money. She said she was perfectly happy spending that spare time with him instead.
Now, he guessed, with his sour attitude she had turned back to scrapbooking as a way to find some more happiness. Maybe her optimism was just a mask that she wore for him while he sank into his own despair.
But curiosity got the better of him. He lifted the non-descript cover and saw written on the first page “Our First Five”. Stan couldn’t help but smile. Madison had gotten back into scrapbooking, not as a way to escape his depression, but as a way to preserve their lives together. As he turned the page he realized that this was her gift to him. It was a reminder of just how special their lives together had been, and would continue to be.
The first pages were filled with memories from their wedding: an invitation, a photo of them sharing their first dance, flower petals from Maddy’s bouquet. He found their plane tickets from their honeymoon in Florida. Next to those was a picture of them with Mickey Mouse. He couldn’t believe that had been five years ago.
As he continued through the scrapbook of their lives he came across ticket stubs from movies they had seen.
He reached the day when, two years ago, Madison had graduated with her MBA. He was so proud of her. Even then, after being married for nearly three years, he wondered what a girl like her still saw in a guy like him. Here was this beautiful, intelligent, amazing woman, while he was just some poor guy from the wrong side of the tracks barely making ends meet operating a machine in a factory. And even that wasn’t true anymore.
He felt a few tears running down his cheeks and wiped them away. Stan needed to remind himself to snap out of it. She loved him through the best and the worst. She was a better person than him, one that he didn’t deserve. But for the last five years he had worked hard and done everything in his power to make himself worthy of her. What amazed him more was that in her eyes, he never had to try so hard.
Stanley laughed at himself and shook off his emotions as he normally did. He kept flipping pages as memories flew into his face like sudden gusts of wind. He was reaching the end of the book and was indescribably happy. Their first five years together had been the most amazing years of his life, and he knew the best was yet to come. He knew that he was incredibly blessed to say that he would be spending the rest of his life with this woman.
And then something else caught his attention. The last page had something thick attached to it. Whatever it was wouldn’t allow the pages before it to lay flat. He skipped a few pages and turned directly to the back page and saw what the object was. It was a home pregnancy test. It was positive. And on the page, directly under the test, Madison had written in her beautiful handwriting, “Surprise!”
This time Stan didn’t brush off his emotions. This time his tears flowed freely and he smiled brighter than he had in months. He knew the best was yet to come, and it would be better than he could have possibly imagined.