Although I had the ring on my finger and the engagement party was over and done, it didn't quite feel real to me yet. The date was set, my bouquet was finished (don't worry, they're not real flowers!), and everything else was falling nicely into place. But something was holding me back from feeling the full excitement a bride-to-be should feel. In the back of my mind, there was the nagging feeling that something could still go wrong. Sure, our petition was approved, but that was only the first step. There was still a lot more paperwork we had to send in. Cayden still had to get his physical. And the last and final step: his interview.
Until he had his visa in hand a was on a plane en route to me, I wouldn't allow myself to give into the whole experience. But that was getting harder to do with him here. He fit so perfectly into my life during his visit, it started to feel like he was already living here. I usually only got him for one week at a time; 10 days tops. But this time he'd be here for a full 16 days. Instead of leaving the airport with a tear-streaked face that Monday, I got to come home to him knowing I still had another week of his company. Another week to fall asleep in his arms. Another week to enjoy being awake and asleep during the same hours he is. Another week to give him a hard time about squeezing the toothpaste tube right in the middle. The tube is permanently crippled now from his monster-hand death grip.
"I can't wait to call you my wife," he said as we were falling asleep that Monday night. I could tell he was serious because he didn't use his Borat intonation. Regardless, the word still made me laugh.
"Wife," I repeated. "Doesn't that sound weird to you?"
"What kind of weird?" he asked.
"I don't know," I thought about it for a moment. Then I repeated it in my head. "It just sounds so old. Or... so ball-and-chain."
He laughed and squeezed me hard against his warm, bare chest. I was half afraid that one of these days he'd accidentally crack one of my ribs because he didn't know his own strength.
"I quite like the sound of it," he said. "And I'll be your husband."
When I hear the word 'husband' I think of a middle-aged man in a sweater vest dozing in a recliner with the remote in one hand and the sports section in the other. I have no idea why.
"I'm still getting used to fiance," I said. "But I'll call you whatever you want if it means I get a goodnight kiss from you every night."
As cheesy as it sounded, I meant it. Growing up, my parents taught us to always say, "Goodnight, I love you" and give them a hug and a kiss before we went to bed. (Not sure if I've told you this story before, but I just did a quick search on the blog and didn't find it.) It didn't matter if we were mad at our parents for making us eat those cheese au gratin potatoes we all hated, or if we were throwing a fit for being grounded for staying up past our bedtime to watch Rescue 9-1-1, we always always always said "Goodnight, I love you." I still say it to this day. I planned on instituting a variation of that tradition with Cayden.
"Every night, huh?" Cayden asked, kissing me on the forehead. "I think I can manage that."
"Promise?" I asked, making eye contact so he knew I was serious. "Even if we have a big fight about whether or not aliens exist? You'll still kiss me goodnight?"
"Well, they don't," he replied matter-of-factly. "But of course I'd still kiss you goodnight."
"What if we're not on speaking terms because I made fun of your accent one too many times so you decide not to talk at all?"
"Well, I wouldn't have to talk to you to kiss you."
He had a good point. Still, I had to make sure all of my bases were covered.
"Even when I'm pregnant and crazy and I'm sending you to the store every 5 minutes for Nutella and pretzels and then blaming you when the pretzels in the bottom of the bag are broken?"
He stopped to think about that one for a while.
I couldn't stop the smile from spreading across my face. He truly adored me. But then I had a sinking feeling. What if the visa doesn't go through? What if I have to live in this constant state of waiting? What if we only get one week's worth of goodnight kisses every three months until one or both of us ultimately lose our minds and end up in a straight jacket talking to a padded wall?
I shook the thoughts from my head and let them wash away in Cayden's goodnight kiss, and in doing so, I let myself feel the excitement of our situation. We were getting married. In a matter of months I'd be walking down the aisle toward him wearing my mom's dress. He'd kiss me for the first time as my husband that night, and then he'd kiss me goodnight every night after that.
I fell asleep in his arms that night as his fiancee, his bride-to-be, a giddy 26-year-old girl who believes in happily ever afters... and aliens.