"I can never forget the night I thought you were dying, Gilbert. Oh, I knew--I knew then--and I thought it was too late."
"But it wasn't, sweetheart. Oh, Anne, this makes up for everything, doesn't it? Let's resolve to keep this day sacred to perfect beauty all our lives for the gift it has given us."
"It's the birthday of our happiness," said Anne softly.
You're up too late. Husband gone to bed, and you finishing a children's book just after midnight. It was cute, funny even, but left you wishing for something more. You rise, head to the bookshelf for a midnight snack. What will it be? Frederick Wentworth's life-altering letter to Anne? Mara and Sheftu's dance of misdirection turned devotion?
You sit, eyeing your old friends, waiting for one to speak, and come to a boxed set, untouched, unread, a Christmas gift from your mother. Unconciously, you have been saving them. You know why she wanted you to have them. You'd grown up hearing stories of her, reading Laura Ingills Wilder to get through nausea, and knew, when she presented you with a different (but equally beloved) series for your own, what they were for. There was a laugh in her eye, and you smiled. Each of you knew the other knew.
So they sat, untouched, on the shelf, waiting for the terrible, wonderful days of change. You would read them straight through, in order, something you've never done. Yet, your hand hovers over the third volume, the one you read most as a younger adult, in those eyes, the most romantic.
Pulling it from the box, you open the book around page two hundred. You skim through the Heroine's denial, graduation, realization, homecoming, family, friends, and then revelation.
"There is a book of revelation in everyone's life, just as there is in the Bible. Anne read hers that bitter night, as she kept her agonized vigil through the hours of storm and darkness."
Unconsciously, you have been trying not to break the spine, but, telling yourself not be silly, you open the book, your book, wider, relinquishing a portion of your dream. This may not count for a first read, but broken spines do not equal broken traditions. Or so you tell yourself.
There are two statements on the final page that you have heard others quote, but your eyes find something new, something you've never noticed before, and well with emotion at the words, "the birthday of our happiness."
You remember such a day of your own, a day of decision, a day upon which you were finally ready to step from fifteen months of darkness into the light of the rest of your life. Happiness is a gift, but it is also a choice. That day you were afraid, but you finally knew what you wanted, and had the courage to take it anyway.
And as you bask in the sudden peace of gratitude and love, you remember the man in the room next to you, the one who shares that birthday. The light is still on, so you are not surprised to find him as he is, asleep on his knees, head on the bed, arms still in the attitude of prayer.
You wake him, turn out the lights, get him under the covers, and hold him close to you.
Often, when you see the two of you reflected in a mirror, your mind seems to disown your body and, for a moment, you wonder who you are, who he is, how you came to be together. But tonight, as he pulls you close, you fall asleep remembering how it all happened, warm in your surety, safe in familiarity, spirit settled in the present.
You've had many special days since then, a day of promise, a day of covenants, but your heart turns fondly to that day, the dawning day, of the birthday of your happiness.