1. Kim met Kim at Marjorie’s New Year’s Eve party, two strangers across a room, eyes locked, a single thought between them: Soul-mate.
2. They almost lost each other on Memorial Day, when Kim dashed across the street seconds before the parade marched by, stranding Kim on the other side.
3. The intense Fourth of July sun shimmered across the waves unnoticed by the sunbathing lovers, giggling at the parade sounds floating from Main Street.
4. Fairy lights twinkled in the soft Christmas Eve snowfall outside the chapel, mirroring Kim’s starry-eyed gaze inside, seeing only Kim’s joyful approach down the aisle.
5. Skipping their traditional celebration at Marjorie’s New Year’s Eve party for the first time six years later, they conked out at 9:00, exhausted by their newborn’s constant crying.
6. They renewed their vows on their tenth anniversary, a raging snowstorm outside the chapel mirroring the chaos of their kids escorting them down the aisle with faces twisted, at first, by fearful sobs because Santa wouldn’t be able to find them and, later, by anger when the oldest revealed the truth about Santa.
7. Kim smiled while updating their Facebook cover photo, admiring their handsome family yet blind to the irony of the balanced composition with the college-graduate twins in their caps and gowns in the middle, each flanked by an older sibling, anchored by a parent at each end.
8. To keep up appearances, they marked their twenty-fifth anniversary at a neutral restaurant, a few days early so it wouldn’t disrupt either Christmas or their oldest’s birthday.
9. The surgeon explained the upcoming procedure as Kim trotted alongside, Marjorie’s thirty-fourth New Year’s Eve party forgotten, overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, their subterranean growth hidden by so many sullen, silent years.
10. Alarmed by Kim’s incoherent text, the children bustled into the waiting room within the hour, pausing only for a quick overview from the nurse at the reception desk.
11. Minutes and hours dragged on with no word from the OR, as Kim stared, unseeing, at the TV, watching the internal movie of their life.
12. When the surgeon pushed through the door at last, the children arose expectantly; Kim, seated, needed only one look at his face to know this New Year’s Eve was their last.
13. The cloying smell of lilies and stale cologne gave Kim a headache and created a cover for tears that dimmed the polite, sad smile greeting everyone who air-kissed after signing the guestbook.
14. On the thirty-fifth anniversary of Marjorie’s New Year’s Eve party, Kim stood alone amid the swirling snowflakes, tears streaming while fingers traced cut patterns on the granite.