Nature's arctic breath tangled itself in my chestnut hair. Thankfully, my grandmother's hand-knitted hat prevented my hair from blocking my vision. I balled my hands into fists, and then I slid them into my light, winter jacket. The freshly fallen snow created an unneeded conflict for me as my dark boots sank with every step.
I pulled one arm out to rewrap my scarf around my neck, and then I tucked my hand back into my pocket. When I felt the crumpled piece of paper with my knuckles, even the chilly snowflakes couldn't prevent the burning sensation in my eyes.
I stopped in front of one of the shopping windows and saw a rain drop forming in the corner of my cloudy eyes. I glanced up at the clouds in the sky, but I could only identify an endless array of snowflakes.
While shutting my eyes and taking a deep breath, I felt a cold bead roll down my cheek, but I continued to walk through the park. Bench after bench, merry couples sat together. Some were holding hands, others were cuddled in each other's' arms, but nonetheless, all happy.
The blurring sensation in my eyes increased, but I continued to walk until I found an unoccupied bench. After attempting to dust off some of the cold snow from the seat, I sat down and pulled the piece of paper from my jacket pocket. A gust of wind nearly swept it away, but I refused to surrender the only reminder I had of him to nature's strong will.
Before smoothing out the piece of paper, I checked my watch to find it was eleven fourty-nine at night. I tried my best to fully compose myself, but I lost all control just by reading the first line of the letter "To My Beloved Ella,".
I needed to read it, and this time, I needed to read it the way he would have wanted. I closed my eyes and simultaneously shut out the world. I took the deepest breath I could, and the wind whirled around me as if taking a deep breath with me. Slowly exhaling, I opened my eyes, already blurred in vision, and began to read.
"To My Beloved Ella,
As you already know, tomorrow is the operation, exactly five days before Christmas. We have anticipated this day for months now, and now it's finally happening.
"I want to tell you how much I love being with you. I love your chestnut hair, your cloudy hazel eyes, your angelic laugh, your amazing personality, your glowing smile, your one of a kind personality. I love it when you sing or play a song on one of the millions of instruments you know how to play.
"Do you remember how we met? In junior high, you were the one person everyone envied, and still do. Good-looking, incredibly smart, involved in every sport you could, musically-inclined, in all of the clubs, class representative, and the friendliest person around. I was always so nervous around you, and I tried numerous times to get you to notice me. So, one day, my efforts paid off.
"At the winning football game, I completely lost my mind and ran to the announcer booth. I took the mic and - remember what I said? 'Ella Light, why would an amazing girl like you ever consider going out with a boy like me?'
"Some people started teasing and calling me out, but you came up to the booth, took the mic, and said with your beautiful smile 'Why not?'
"If all goes well with the operation, I'll be allowed to leave the hospital late on Christmas Eve, and I will meet you at the park at ten sharp. If not, someone else from the hospital will come to inform you, and I ask that you not mourn over my death but remember me with that smile you always have.
"Whatever happens, Ella, I love you, I loved you from the first moment I saw you, and I will always love you. Always and forever. You were the beautiful light in my life and shall be in whatever becomes of my future.
"I love you with all my heart.
I crumpled the piece of paper, shoved it in my pocket, and checked my watch. It was eleven fifty-nine. I was holding myself together pretty well until the bells rang.
The park clock struck twelve, and then it was accompanied by the merry sounds of bells and 'Merry Christmas' greetings. No longer able to control myself, I shut my eyes, gave in to the burning sensation, and silently let the mysterious raindrops roll down my cheeks.
"Merry Christmas." A familiar voice sang from in front of me.
With the lighting from the park Christmas tree and my blurred vision, I made out the figure of a man kneeling down in front of me digging in his coat pocket. After whipping a sleeve across my face, I felt my eyes grow three sizes too big for my face not at the lovely ring in the small case the man held, but at the familiar face of the man.
"With my new, strong heart, I hereby promise to protect you until my last breath and love you with all my being. Ella, my beautiful, Light, would you make me the happiest man in the world and accept my hand in marriage?"
I dove forward, most likely knocking the ring on the snow next to us, and wrapped my arms around Isaac as tight as humanly possible.
"Yes." I sobbed into his coat as his strong arms brought me closer to him. "You're alive. Dear God, you're alive. Yes, yes, yes. I will marry you."
Isaac pulled me away from him just enough so I could see his face. His familiar sent caused a rush of memories to fly back to me. His dark eyelashes trapped the white flakes before they could reach his emerald eyes while his swayed, blond hair remained vulnerable.
"Now, why on Earth did a guy like me get lucky enough to have a woman like you?" His smile sent my heart racing.
I smiled wide just as Christmas carolers began the chorus of Carol of the Bells.
Still fighting back my joyous tears, I answered, "Why not?"