The woman got up after a nervous rest, smiling at her sleeping wife. She walked over and sat down at the vanity and began brushing her hair; a short brunette bob that almost mirrored her lover’s black. Vanity…an odd, familiar, but almost paradoxical idea. She gazed at her image and pouted. She was no vainer than any other; wanting to look pretty was a fairly normal feeling, wasn’t it? And feeling unloveable and not at all pretty; she wasn’t the only one, was she?

“You keep brushing your hair as if there were something wrong.” Hannah called from the bed. “You know how adorable I think you are, right?”

Anne looked over at her wife and smiled, but there were tears in her eyes.

“Oh, honey…please…it’s okay. Please, come to bed.” Hannah patted the pillow next to her.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to be…” Anne said as she put her head down, the tears flowing freely. Hannah got up and walked over to the vanity, putting her arms around Anne in a tight hug from behind.

“Don’t…you look just fine.” Hannah smiled at her lover’s reflection in the mirror as the woman raised her head. Anne looked down and saw what was missing even as Hannah saw noted what was there.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry....” She wept haltingly, leaning her head back against Hannah’s breasts, the sad reminder of her loss. Hannah might have felt guilty if she were another, perhaps, seeing her own plenty while noting Anne’s lack, Instead, she could only see the heart that beat softly but surely in her lover’s chest; the heart that loved and cared and savored and cherished. The heart that embraced Hannah’s daughter, even as Anne was unable to have children of her own. The woman who esteemed her lover; Hannah had been abused and neglected all her life, from her family to her former spouse to so many other missteps in her quest to be loved. She leaned closer and spoke.

“I love you more than my own life. You see loss; I see possibilities and hope. You see failure; I see opportunities and newness of life. You see lack; I see what may yet be. You feel like you cannot be a mother to my child; I see a mother already who has brought healing to my little girl.

“But…no matter what I do…I’ll never be…real. I’ll never be…whole? What can I possibly do to bless you as I am…I can never be for you what you are for me.” Anne shuddered in sobs. Hannah kissed her face over and over, saying ,

“All I ever wanted…all I ever needed.” Her own tears mixed with her lover’s as she lavished Anne with her love; her own lack healed long ago by an abiding faith that things would one day be better. And they were. She led her lover to bed while squeezing her hand gently, cooing softly,

“I love you.” Reaching over, she turned off the light. Softly and gently, caresses sent an almost magical sense of acceptance for the younger woman as she loved her as best she could. Sobs from both were replaced slowly by sighs and soft, calm breaths of relief. Weeping was replaced with joy as each woman drank in the other’s essence; a reverie of exploration and discovery.

Slowly, sighs and gasps were replaced with moans and sobs, but these sobs were joyous founts of blessing; loving and truly loved as the women fell into each other.

Neither woman had started this journey in any way that might have been expected or presumed. Hannah, mother to a seven year old girl? Born Paul Armetta nearly thirty-six years before. Anne? Anne Manfredonia; a woman no longer with womb or breast, ravaged with disease and pain; perhaps never to live to see her step-daughter marry but determined to be a mother to her.

Time might be short, or they might have an eternity; who could say, but while they both lived to draw a breath, it would be a time like no other. Each caress would be a caress of love; a touch of the very hand of God. Each kiss would unite them in a way that none could ever know. Each teardrop like the life-giving water from a Spring rain; renewal and rebirth even as life waned in one and grew sad but faithful in the other.

“Nothing has ever been as good as it is now, my sweet girl,” Hannah said as she kissed her lover in every place and every way.

“No one has ever given me the joy that you give, save for my God, and God give me the grace to give you the same. I love you, Anne. I love you.”

And they wept.

And they loved.

And they lived.

Who can say what can happen; what can take place when love and faith and joy and pain and sadness are mixed together? What dreams may come from embracing every bit of another; welcoming the loss and lack as well as the blessing? But that day…that night…they were granted grace to live for at least a little while more, and see their daughter grow and fall in love and wed.

If one can describe a mere twelve more years of pain and more hurt but much more promise and much more hope and faith and joy, it would be this:

They lived happily ever after!

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