Had she known Stan would only lived for three years after they married, she’d have accepted his first proposal. She hadn’t thought, then, that she wanted to be married again. Her forty years with Karl had been both work and wonderful, but she’d come to enjoy being single, playing the wild widow, traveling, dating. Dating! And she’d found she liked her solitude.
And, too, it seemed wrong, as if remarrying were replacing Karl. For all his flaws, Karl had been a good partner, and she didnt’ like to think of insulting that by trying to recreate it with someone else.
But then suddenly there was Stan, filling up her view screen with his technicolor presence, telling her he wanted to “live in the world” with her.
Three years, eight months and nineteen days she’d been his wife. After dating for six months and “playing house,” as Stan called it, nearly a year.
“You gotta marry me, Deb,” he’d said the last time. “My life is only meaningful with you in it, how can that not include marriage?”
“But we’re together, Stan,” she’d said. She wanted to be with him, to stay with him. But marriage still felt off somehow, as if she could only marry once and Karl should be her only husband.
“Yes,darling. We’re together. I just want to be able to tell people you’re my wife.”
And, after everything, it had turned out to be as simple as hearing him say that.
“We never thought you’d remarry, Deb,” one of her girlfriends had said. “But you can’t go wrong with Stan. That man will make you smile for the rest of your life.”
Or for the rest of his. It was eleven years since the car accident that killed him.
She looked over at Russ and smiled. He was no Stan, but she was happy with him, happy to have found him. He was working a large jigsaw puzzle on her craft table, carefully studying each piece. She walked over and stood at his shoulder, looking for one of the three pieces she would place in the puzzle.
She stroked the back of his neck, the soft skin just below his hairline. They hadn’t talked about marriage, and he seemed as content with playing house as she was. She already knew, however: if he changed his mind, if he asked her to marry him, she’d say yes that first time.