Two summers before, the back garden at Marilyn’s house had hosted very nearly the same group of friends, for very nearly the same purpose: a wedding to Douglas.
Louise had asked him, very seriously, just once. “Are you sure this is where you want to hold the ceremony?”
His response had been to kiss Louise, lovingly, slowly, tenderly. “It just seems right to do it here. I can’t explain it. But if it’s too much for you, or doesn’t feel right -”
Louise placed a finger on his lips. “We both have pasts. We can’t run from them, or pretend they never happened. I respect your past, Douglas, and your love for Marilyn. If you would like to marry here, again, in the house she gave you, I would love that. I would love for her spirit to join us in celebrating that life goes on.”
Douglas recalled that moment with Louise, and so many moments with Marilyn, as he buttoned his loose white linen shirt, and brushed an imaginary piece of lint off his grey trousers. A smile played across his lips, even as his heart felt full to the breaking point.
“All set?” David asked from the doorway to the bedroom. Douglas looked at his son, tall and lanky, handsome in his own way, with that coldness at his core that made his good looks sharp, prickly, instead of inviting. Douglas longed to warm up his son’s heart enough for David to find his own true happiness, instead of continually chasing what he could never possess.
“How do I look?” Douglas asked his grown son, asking David to approve his appearance, and his life choice, he thought.
“Like a happy old cat about to snag the canary,” David answered, a harsh note in his voice. “Like a lucky old dog about to, you know.”
“David, don’t be coarse. Be happy for me, son, if you can.” Douglas turned back to the mirror.
“I’m here, aren’t I? I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t to support you, Dad.”
Douglas looked at their two faces in the mirror, and wondered if he would ever know how to make this son of his into a truly happy man.