By: Catherine Gayle

“I don’t know. Why don’t you answer and find out?”

“Right,” she said.

“Excellent choice,” I murmured, dropping down to one knee in front of her. I pulled the box out of my right pocket and opened it, looking up into her eyes. “Jessica Lynch, would you be my wife?”

She gasped, and the people surrounding us murmured, clearly watching what was happening between us.

“Are you serious?” she asked.

“As serious as I’ve ever been. You’ve been part of my family for a while now, but I think we should make it official. I want you to be my wife. I want you to be the kids’ aunt. I want to spend my life with you.”

She dropped down to both knees so we were eye to eye. “Yes.”

I took the ring out of the box and slid it on her finger. Then I kissed her to the applause of the few people surrounding us. She put her arms around my neck and threw herself against me so hard that we both toppled to the ground.

When we came up for air a moment later, both laughing so hard it hurt, she put a hand on her stomach and said, “Wait a minute. What if I’d said left?”

“Oh.” I reached into my left pocket and pulled out the long box I’d placed in there. I opened it up to show her the necklace inside. “Well, I would have given you this. It’s a mother’s necklace. It’s got Elin’s, Hugo’s, and Nils’s birthstones. And after you gushed over it, I would have asked you to marry me.”

Jessica fingered the necklace and burst into tears. These were good tears, though. These tears meant love. They meant belonging. They meant family.

These were the best kind of tears.

In that moment, I knew that every time I thought of spring, this was what would come to mind. There wasn’t anything else I would rather be doing, and there was no one else I would rather be with, than rolling around in the grass and dirt with Jessica.

My life had changed more than I had been ready for over the last year, but right then I wouldn’t have changed a thing.