Title: The Anniversary - Part 2
Author: Erin Cady
Date written: 13 Feb 97
Synopsis: This story was written a couple of years ago on what, in TV land, was Lee and Amanda's tenth anniversary (13 Feb 97). It revolves around how they celebrate the occasion.
Amanda collapsed onto the couch in the den, a thousand different emotions coursing through her. Glancing at the table next to her, her eyes lighted on their wedding picture. Carefully picking it up, she lightly touched Lee's face then pressed the picture close to her as she softly started to cry.
She wanted to be excited about their anniversary; after all, the last ten years had been the happiest time of her life. Whenever she tried to be positive about it, though, memories from years ago invaded her thoughts and made her want to just forget that the day was approaching at all. Sorrowfully, she thought back to that anniversary so long ago and the anniversary that was never to be.
She shuddered as she remembered reading the date on the divorce papers - August 22, 1982 - the date that would have been Joe's and her tenth anniversary. How ironic, she had thought at the time, that their divorce would become final ten years to the day after they had exchanged the vows that were supposed to have united them as husband and wife forever. As the day had drawn nearer, she had written in the box on her calendar, in tiny letters, "9:00 Lawyer's appt." Every day for that entire month she had seen those words in the place where it should have read, "10th Anniversary," and every day it tore at her heart to realize her marriage would soon be over, that she had failed in the one area of her life that she had hoped never to fail in.
Now, years later, happily married to Lee, this failure was still haunting her. She knew in her heart that she and Lee had a solid, loving marriage, but for some reason this old doubt had surfaced as their tenth anniversary quickly approached. She knew logically that she should be celebrating this milestone. Unlike before, she and Lee had made it to this point. But all she wanted to do was forget it was coming -- treat it like any other day. She was afraid of being disappointed again -- afraid something would happen to prevent Lee and her from making it to the day. Letting her thoughts wander back to the present situation, she berated herself once again for letting the past interfere with her present. She hugged the picture tighter against her as sobs overwhelmed her.
Lee stood quietly in the doorway to the den, debating whether he should go to Amanda or not. He'd been standing there watching her for the last few minutes, trying to figure out what could be bothering her, torn between anger and concern. He was worried that something was upsetting her, but angry that she wouldn't share whatever it was with him. Finally deciding that they needed to resolve things, he walked silently over and sat beside her on the couch.
Amanda felt him sit down and turned her tear stained face to him, wanting to reach out to him, but afraid of how he would respond. Lee, as if sensing her hesitation, gently put his arms around her and drew her close.
"Amanda, we need to talk about this," he said softly, pulling back slightly to look in her face.
Amanda nodded and whispered brokenly, "I know." Extracting herself from his embrace, she leaned back against the couch and stared down at her lap.
Lee carefully proceeded. "I don't really understand what just happened. All I know is that I'm angry and confused. From the looks of it, so are you. Why don't you tell me what's bothering you. Why don't you want to do anything for our anniversary? Is it something I've done?" he asked curiously.
"No, it's not you, Lee," she rushed to reassure him. Then, after pausing briefly to collect her thoughts, she added, "It's actually something that happened a long time ago."
As Lee listened intently, Amanda told him about the painful memories this anniversary was dredging up for her. When she was done, she remarked apologetically, "I know you're not Joe and that our marriage is strong and healthy, but I just haven't been able to shake these thoughts. I remember the last time Joe was home before things got bad, he promised to take me to Europe on our tenth anniversary. That had always been our dream." With an ironic chuckle she added, "Obviously that pledge was never fulfilled."
Lee smiled understandingly, waiting for Amanda to continue. "Anyway, every time I walk past the calendar in the kitchen, I think of that calendar so long ago and it hurts because I've always felt like my first marriage fell apart because of something I'd done. I don't want to make those same mistakes with our marriage," she finished quietly, once again turning her watery gaze to the wedding picture clutched in her hands.
Lee gathered her into his arms and tried to reassure her. "Amanda, nothing's going to happen to us… I promise you. What you've just told me explains a lot of things, though." Gently caressing her cheek, he apologized. "I'm sorry I've been pushing all these ideas on you. I should have been listening… hearing what you were really trying to say."
Amanda looked lovingly into his eyes. "I should have been honest with you a long time ago. How are you supposed to know I'm upset about something like this unless I tell you? I'm sorry for not being more straightforward with you."
"Apology accepted," Lee said with a grin. "And don't worry about our anniversary, we'll have a quiet evening at home like you want, okay?"
Amanda appreciated his compromise. "I promise I'll make it up to you," she offered with a smile.
"I'll hold you to that," Lee teased with a twinkle in his eye. Becoming serious once again, he reminded her, "Amanda, one more thing. I'm not Joe, okay? I'm not leaving you… ever." He took the picture gently out of her hands. "The day this was taken, I made a vow to love you and be with you forever. I plan to honor that pledge. So, no matter what happens, you're stuck with me, for better or for worse."
Amanda smiled at him gratefully. "I know, Lee, and I appreciate that. I'll try not to let stuff that happened with Joe come between us anymore." Looking deep into his eyes, she added, "I love you."
Setting the frame back on the table, he pulled her close once again. "I love you, too," he told her, as their lips touched in a tender kiss.
The next day the pleasant smell of baking cookies greeted Lee when he walked in the door after a long day of work. After setting down his briefcase in the entryway, he wandered into the kitchen, loosening his tie on the way. Stopping in the doorway, he silently observed his family hard at work cutting out and frosting cookies. Without saying a word, he watched as Amanda helped Matt carefully cut the dough with a heart shaped cookie cutter then turned to Jenny and praised the lovely decorating job she was doing.
Marveling at the love and patience she bestowed on the kids, his mind wandered to what his life had been like since marrying her. She was such a special woman. He was lucky to have her in his life. For the hundredth time, he wondered how Joe could have left her like he did, choosing his job over her. Nothing was more important to Lee than Amanda and the kids.
Standing there gazing at her, he felt a desire to find a way to let her know how much she meant to him -- how much the last ten years had meant to him. He had promised her a quiet evening at home for their anniversary, and he wasn't going to break that vow, but he knew there had to be some way to show her that he wasn't Joe -- that their anniversary was important to him without making her uncomfortable. He couldn't let the day go by without doing something. He contemplated the situation for a few moments before finally realizing a solution. He and Amanda didn't have to go out to have a romantic evening. With a little work, he could arrange a celebration right here at home.
As he mulled the idea over in his mind, Jenny looked up and saw him standing there. "Daddy's home!" she squealed excitedly, racing over to him and throwing her frosting- coated hands around him. Matt soon followed suit, forcing Lee out of his thoughts and back into the kitchen as both kids led him over to show him the colorful Valentine's Day cookies they were working on.
As the week wore on, Lee set to work on his plans. Luckily, the kids had an administrative holiday on Friday, so he arranged for Dotty to meet him at the school Thursday afternoon to take them home with her for the weekend.
When Thursday finally rolled around, everything went as planned. Amanda left on the round of errands Lee had carefully arranged. Lee managed to get the kids safely off with Dotty for the weekend, then headed home to put the final touches on his plan. He wanted everything to be perfect when Amanda walked in the door that night.
When Amanda finally did get home around five, she was surprised by a pleasant aroma and the silence that filled the house. She wondered where Lee and the kids were. Setting her keys down in the entryway, she called for Lee. When he didn't answer, she decided to investigate the delicious smells. Wandering into the dining room, she stopped and stared in amazement at the sight that greeted her eyes. The table was romantically set for two, with candles softly burning and a bouquet of ten red roses placed carefully in the center.
Noticing a piece of paper sitting beneath a single red rose, she slowly stepped to the table. Picking up the rose, she sniffed it thoughtfully as she read the message Lee had left for her…
Happy Anniversary, Amanda. Thanks for making me the luckiest man alive. May the next 10 years be as perfect as the last. With love forever, Lee.
As she read the note again, Amanda picked out the first few notes of "The Search is Over" playing softly in the living room then turned as she heard Lee in the door.
"Happy Anniversary, Amanda," Lee whispered huskily as he walked towards her and handed her the rose he held in his hand.
With tears streaming down her cheeks, she took the flower from him, too overwhelmed to speak at first. When she finally found her voice, she didn't know what to say. "Lee… this… this is beautiful. Thank you, " she murmured in awe. "But I thought we agreed we weren't going to do anything for our anniversary."
"No," Lee contradicted lightly. "We just agreed not to go anywhere to celebrate, but to have a quiet dinner at home. Well, this is a quiet dinner at home."
Amanda couldn't debate his logic. "You're right. We did agree to a simple dinner at home. But how did you do this? Where are the kids?" she asked, perplexed.
"They're with your mother for the weekend. Amanda, I wanted to do something special so you could see all that we have to celebrate." Putting his arms around her, he continued lovingly, "I wanted you to see that our marriage is different… that you don't have to be afraid to celebrate our love. We've reached a milestone here. Neither one of us has ever had a relationship last this long before. This is the beginning of uncharted territory for both of us, " he said with a grin. "Seriously, Amanda, I wanted to show you how much our marriage means to me. How much you mean to me."
Amanda was speechless, touched by the emotion in his voice. "Oh, Lee, " she finally choked out, "this is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. I can't believe you tried so hard to respect my wishes and still make this anniversary special. Thank you," she finished as she wrapped her arms tightly around him.
Lee returned the hug. "You're welcome, " he replied as his half-lidded eyes leisurely searched her face before finally settling on her lips. Slowly, they moved closer, their lips touching in a lingering kiss. When they finally parted, Lee whispered tenderly, "I love you, Amanda."
"I love you, too, Lee, " Amanda returned as they came together for another long kiss.
That night, while falling asleep in Lee's arms, Amanda thought back over the last few hours. She and Lee had enjoyed an exquisite meal, followed by romantic dancing in the living room. They had become lost in each other, leaving the rest of the world behind them. As they had moved up into the bedroom, he had showed her in a way words never could how much he still loved her. It had been a perfect evening, one Amanda couldn't believe she had almost missed because of her fears.
Thinking back over Lee's comment earlier that night, she realized he was right. They finally had left the past behind them. They had both reached a point that neither had achieved before in a relationship. This anniversary was the first step towards a new horizon. Cuddling closer to Lee, Amanda fell asleep with a dreamy smile on her face, lost in thoughts of what the future would hold.