Ted lifted his head at the sound of someone knocking on his door.
“Hi,” Mitch greeted as he entered. Ted dropped his pen and leaned back in his seat.
“Hey…have a seat. If you’re here for your fiancée, I’m sorry you just missed her. She had to go do some shopping and she dragged my wife along with her.”
“Yeah, she told me about that. I came to see you, TB.”
“Okay…what about?” Mitch sat down.
“I know we are not where we used to be and getting there will take longer than we both anticipate and it’s all my fault. But this upcoming wedding means a lot to Anita and it is one of the few days you wish to share memories with those who matter to you. You’ve always been my best friend no matter how bad things have turned out between us. We both dreamed of being each other’s best man at our weddings but I wasn’t here to be yours but I would like you to be mine. Perhaps we could hit the refresh button and start all over. So what do you say?”
Ted spent the next minute studying his old friend and tapping the tip of the pen on the desk repeatedly.
“Why are you getting married to Anita, Mitch?”
“Because I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I think I’m in love with her.”
“What do you want me to say, TB? One cannot be absolutely sure these days, right? Judging from the rate of divorce these days…”
“I was sure about Lucia.”
“Never had cold feet, even once?”
“I don’t remember…in fact, she had it more than I did. I gave her every cause not to marry me but she came through for me. What else can I ask for?”
“She is one unique lady. You got lucky.”
“I consider myself blessed. Do you consider yourself blessed that you found Anita?”
“What’s with the questions, Ted?”
“Just want to make sure you’re marrying her because you love her and not because you cannot get the one you really desire.”
“Who, your wife?” Ted sat back in his seat. Mitch chuckled and got up.
“I thought making you my best man could be the first step to getting us back on track but now I realize how futile that is. Have a nice day, Ted.”
“Wait. I’ll agree on one condition.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“Promise me that you’re marrying her for her and not for any twisted reason and that you’d take care of her like she deserves.”
“So what, you’re her loving cousin now?”
“I do care about Anita, Mitch. And I know I will suffer the implications if this thing goes south and I don’t want to go through that. Lucia deserves better than that. So do we have a deal?”
Mitch offered him his hand. Ted took it.
Anita knocked on the office door softly. Ted lifted his head.
“Hey you’re back. Where’s my wife?”
“She went ahead to meet up with her old man.”
“Oh I see.”
“Yeah, one of the perks of the being the only child of a wealthy business guru.”
“We were born into the life. We are used to it.” A minute of silence passed.
“So here we are…on either sides of the table.”
“How do you feel, getting married?” Ted asked.
“Excited…anxious…a bit skeptical but really excited. How did you feel?”
“Couldn’t wait to get married. I am happy that you’ve found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.”
“Yeah. How’s life with Monique so far?”
“Very interesting. We have fun, intimate moments and very heated arguments. I guess it’s pretty balanced. But now that she’s pregnant, she can become intense at any moment but you know me, I’m good at calming her down.”
“Uh huh, the Bourbon charm. Yeah I had an intense moment with your wife today. I forgot the downside of being knocked up. She was so emotional about everything! She seemed more excited about the wedding than I am. When we went cake-tasting, she went explosive. She ate it all and was so hyper that I actually had to buy her one. She was all over the place!” Ted laughed.
“Welcome to my world; that’s the new normal for me.”
“I so don’t envy you right now, Ted.”
“Yeah, a piece of advice for you: be careful what you say around her or else you’ll spend the next hour apologizing for it.” Anita shook her head in disbelief.
“Who would have thought that Monique…”
“Hi there…” Lucia’s voice sang out. They both glanced at her. Lucia’s mouth was full with cake.
“It’s really good, Ted. I think we should get some for the house.”
“Okay; I’ll be heading out now. I can see you have your hands full now,” Anita said to Ted. They both got up and hugged.
“I wish you all the best in your marriage, Anita.”
“See you soon, Monique. Take some rest, okay? You must be exhausted.”
“And hungry. I like your cake.”
“Of course you do. Bye.”
Ted watched his wife munching on the cake like a little girl. She stretched her hand toward him.
“Want some cake, honey? It’s amazing.”
“I’m good, thanks. But I’m sure our baby wants more. So why not eat it for him?”
Lucia smiled. “I will.”
Two months later, a simple but lovely ceremony was held for Mitch and Anita to be united in holy matrimony with Ted and Lucia being the best man and lady of honor respectively. After they were pronounced man and wife, the newlywed couple turned and the first people they laid their eyes on were the ones they secretly loved and wished to be with. It should have been you marrying me today, Anita thought as she gazed at Ted who smiled at her whiles Mitch’s dreamy eyes blinked with desire as they focused on the beautiful and pregnant Lucia. But when they faced each other, their hearts were fairly satisfied. They could make it work, they knew they could. Although their hearts were beating for someone else, they could learn to love each other…or so they thought. They kissed.
“They really look like they are in love with each other,” Lucia observed as they watched the couple take the first dance.
“Yeah, it surely seems that way. Do you care to dance with me?” Ted asked, offering his hand. Lucia smiled and her eyes beamed with joy as she took his hand.
Mitch closed his eyes for a moment as he continued his dance with his new bride.
When he opened them, his gaze fell on his friend and his wife dancing. His heart melted as he watched Lucia laugh and get kissed by her husband. Mitch kissed Anita’s neck. Anita’s eyes also fell on Ted and Lucia. She held Mitch more tightly.
Mitch stared into the eyes of his new wife.
“We are going to be happy together,” he promised. Anita nodded hopefully.
The Bourbons’ love continued to blossom following the birth of their baby girl. And since Anita had moved out of town to be with her husband, Lucia’s mind and heart were finally at peace now that all the drama was behind her. Now she knew she had her husband all to herself. Anita is gone and never coming back. Her happily-ever after had just begun.
All that glitters is not gold. Appearances are deceptive. Pretty roses have thorns. Behind a smile could be quiet screams. We are mostly warned of the dark side of beautiful things because we tend to judge a book by its cover. But we are hardly cautioned not to disregard or neglect the ‘ugly’ or ordinary-looking things because they seem worthless. You may never know, you could be holding a jewel in your hands; only wrapped in dirt.
We are all born with gifts but sometimes we fixate on and covet the gifts of others and relegate ours to the background. Unknown to us, they are the things we would parachute us to our destinies faster than the ones we are eyeing. If you were born to do something, you don’t struggle with it. Challenges may come, yes; but when something is meant for you, it has a way of becoming a part of you such that you cannot live without it.
So whatever you have been entrusted with, be it a task or job, ministry, family or whatever which does not meet your expectations, just know that everything takes commitment and effort. The same way you have to wash off the dirt to discover the gold underneath, all you need to do is to dig deeper and work harder to find what you are seeking.
Don’t hate your job because it feels insignificant-it could be your ticket to the office you have been dreaming about. You could even get your name on the door for all you know. If your family is going through a rough patch, take the matter to God in prayer and do your best to put things back in order.
Don’t disregard the little stones/rocks you have in your possession; work hard and rub the dirt off and you will find the treasure you have been waiting for all this while.
“Anita asked you to be her what?!” Ted asked, when he paused his teeth-brushing. Lucia paused her hair-brushing upon hearing his reaction.
“Which part surprises you, the fact that she asked me to be her bridesmaid for the second time or the fact that she’s getting married in the first place?”
Ted rinsed his mouth.
“Don’t you find it odd that they are getting married this soon? How much do they know about themselves in the first place?”
“And who are you concerned about in this case, your ex-girlfriend or your old time best friend?” Lucia asked curiously.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I just want to understand your line of thought. Finally, Anita gets to move on with another person and you’re not happy about that?”
“Of course I am; I just think they are rushing into it. Even we who were so convinced to be made for each other had to go through very dramatic adjustments. How much more they who have known themselves for less than a year?”
“I am sure they are grown up enough to handle the challenges that come with marriage, Ted.”
“Uh huh, I’m sure they are.”
“You’re not happy about this, are you? It hurts you that your second fiddle is moving on to be with someone else.”
“Come on, how can you say that, Lucia? Why would I need a second fiddle when I’ve got you?”
“Whatever gets you through the night.”
“I have a bad feeling about this. I know Mitch and I believe he has set his eyes on Anita because I used to be involved with her. He has always wanted what I had. No wonder he came onto you.”
“Wow…your ex and your long lost friend have found love and you manage to make it all about you. Peoples’ lives don’t revolve around you, Ted.”
“I know that it’s a relief for you that Anita is getting married to Mitch so you can finally get over your insecurity but Anita is my friend and I don’t want to see her hurt.”
“Anita is your friend and Mitch is not? Are you implying Mitch doesn’t deserve her?”
“I just think they are doing this for all the wrong reasons.”
“And that’s your business, how? And FYI, you’re partly responsible for my so-called insecurity because you always gave me reason to believe that you had nothing to lose if we didn’t work out. And that Anita would always be available to take my place and now it sucks for you that your number threat of a bargaining chip is being whisked away by your lover boy of a friend.”
“When I proposed to you, I knew in my heart that there was no turning back. Anita was my past and that’s where she’ll always belong. Yeah, I am concerned that if my suspicions are true, their marriage could end badly and we could be implicated.”
“Anita has always loved me and Mitch has some hidden feelings for you. Do I need to connect the dots for you?” Ted asked.
“That is not my problem and the same goes for you.” Lucia got into bed and under the covers.
“You’re not upset, are you?” Ted asked, also getting into bed.
“We are ending the day talking about Anita Morgan, how upset can I be? I should be getting used to it, shouldn’t I?” Lucia said in a sarcastic tone.
“Wow.” Ted almost jumped out of his skin when Lucia turned suddenly to face him and asked bluntly, “You still love her, don’t you?”
“What? I can’t believe this. After everything we’ve been through, you dare ask me that ridiculous question again?”
“Do you or don’t you?”
“I’m not going to dignify that silly question with an answer, Lucia.”
“Did you just call me silly?”
Ted held her face and kissed her forehead.
“No I didn’t, my love; go to sleep. You’re exhausted.”
“Shush…I don’t want us to go to bed mad at each other. Let it go, okay?”
Lucia inhaled deeply. “Okay.” They lay down. And with a smile on Lucia’s face, she closed her eyes.
Lucia’s eyes fell on Mitch the very minute she entered the office.
“Hey…How’s the latest married man to-be doing?”
“I’m good.” He hugged her. They stared at each other for a moment.
“I know what you’re thinking; that my proposal to Anita came too soon.”
“Oh I personally don’t have a problem with that. If you sincerely love her and you have decided to spend the rest of your life with her, then go for it.”
“And I’m sure you’re glad so I can move on from the feelings I have for you.”
“I am. Anita is a very…”
“You don’t have to read her trait résumé to me. I am sure she’s a great lady if TB dated her.”
“Are you telling me you’re going to marry her because Ted almost did?”
“No, I’m just saying that if Ted considered marrying her, then she must be a unique lady. After all, he married a precious jewel like you.”
Lucia realized he was still holding you. She broke free and went back a few steps.
“I wish you two all the happiness in the world. I do pray that you two make it to the end.”
“Yeah, with both of us tied down, you wouldn’t have to deal what is going on here between us.”
“I don’t want to think that you’re obsessed with me, Mitch. If this is a mind game, I’m not interested. I’m only being nice to you because you mean something to my husband. What are you doing here by the way?”
“I came to pick Anita. There are some places we have to check out. She’s asking Ted for the day off.”
“Okay. His phone rang.
“Please give me a minute.”
“Oh help yourself.” Mitch stepped outside. Lucia walked to the door and heard Ted and Anita speaking. She stopped to listen.
“I just want to be sure you know what you’re doing, Anita. You’re not marrying him because he is my friend, are you?” Anita chuckled.
“Are you serious? Why would I hang my whole future on that? I do like him, Ted. Yes, he being your friend and portraying some of your traits is a plus but I can see a future with him. I held on to you too long and now I have to let go. You have a good thing going with Monique and I want that too.”
“Okay; I just don’t want you marrying him for the wrong reasons.”
“I’ll be fine. It is sweet to know you still care. It is heartwarming.”
“I will always care.” He hugged her.
“Thank you,” Anita said, tears threatening to form in her eyes. They broke apart. Lucia entered.
“Hey…Mitch just told me you two have some rounds to make.”
“Yeah…we need to sit down and plan the event. But I’ll be very wary of you this time because the last time I asked you, you ended up marrying him.” They laughed.
“I promise he’s all yours,” Lucia said.
“I’ll leave you two now,” Anita excused herself.
“How’s your old man doing?” Ted asked, leaning on the desk.
“He’s okay; a bit grumpier than before but fine. I just pity his staff.” Ted chuckled.
“Please hold me,” she said, walking into his arms and staying there.
“I’m sorry for trying to pick a fight last night.”
“It’s okay. I have just realized that talking about Anita doesn’t augur very well for your health.” She chuckled.
“Anita is finally moving on.”
“Yes she is.”
Everyone loves music or at least everyone I have met although the preferences may differ. Music happens to have a soothing therapeutic effect especially when fatigued, agitated or moody. I would call music a wonderful amazing gift to mankind. Imagine a world with no music. How awfully unimaginable it is, right? (Shock face).
But I dare say there is music and there is music. Every music lover would tell you the different sentiments each genre brings out. World music mostly excites the body and makes us forget what may be bothering us for the time being but just as it begins to fade, the troubles start to resurface back into the mind.
But anyone who listens to Christian/gospel/religious music will have totally different perspective on the effect that the music brings. It does more than keep the body upbeat; it nourishes the soul and keeps the spirit alive. Every song has its own aura. There are some songs which activate the mind to think of bodily pleasures, heartbreak or even revenge. But Christian music fills the atmosphere with the spirit of God which comes with peace, joy and renewed and strengthened faith in the God you have believed in.
That is why someone can listen to Christian music and can experience a miraculous healing in his body; because our God is a Healer so when you call Him in, He will come with everything He has got. How can the God of peace come visit and you would feel depression and despair afterward? Whenever He comes around, He leaves behind His peace-the kind that surpasses all understanding and reason. You might have the greatest burden on earth but you would feel that burden lift off your shoulders after you have encountered Him.
Think about it: how come people go to nightclubs and wild parties and dance to the latest music and come back home and still feel terrible about their lives? Why couldn’t their best tunes help them feel better about themselves? Because there is no power behind that music. It just makes the body jump up and down in ecstasy but it leaves you the same way you were before the music started.
So how is your playlist benefiting you? Does it excite you temporarily or does it leave a significant lasting effect?
Ted entered the bedroom to find Lucia making up her face.
“Hey; aren’t you done yet? Everyone is here.”
“Yeah, our parents are both here.”
“Not everyone is here yet.”
“What do you mean, who else did you invite?”
“My new best friend and her boyfriend.”
“Is that your cynical way of referring to Anita? Why would you invite her here in the first place and who is she seeing?” Her phone beeped. She took it and read the message.
“Why don’t we go downstairs and find out?”
“I can sense that you’ve something up your sleeves and I’m not sure I’m going to like it.”
“Oh honey; after being together all this time, you still don’t seem to know me,” Lucia said sweetly, wrapping her arms around his neck.
“Oh I do know you very well and that’s why I’m uneasy about this.”
“Don’t worry; you won’t get your blood pressure raised.” She kissed him. He moaned.
“You smell so good,” he whispered, walking her backwards to the bed.
“We have a dinner to host downstairs,” Lucia said, gazing at him suspiciously.
“Well you said not everyone is in so we can wait for them from here.” His words ended with Lucia’s back on the bed with him hovering over her.
“You can’t be serious, Ted Bourbon.”
“I’ll just show you how serious I am,” he said and kissed her neck. Lucia pushed him away and got up.
“I’m not going to let you mess up my hair. I have spent too much time on it only to let you mess it up in one minute. Come on, let’s go downstairs.” She offered him her hand. Ted blinked.
“Yeah seriously. Our parents are downstairs for crying out loud!”
“This is our matrimonial home, not theirs.”
“I promise to sort you out later; can we please go downstairs?”
He took her hand and got up.
“You’ve got me all wrapped up around your finger, haven’t you?” Ted asked, kissing her hair. She shrugged.
“Your words, not mine.” They came downstairs.
“Here comes my beautiful daughter-in-law,” Mrs. Bourbon said, hugging Lucia.
“Thank you for honoring our invitation, mum.”
“Anytime.” The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it.” Lucia walked to the door and opened it.
“You made it! For a second I thought you stood me up,” Lucia said with relief. She hugged Anita.
“Not on this one.” Mitch entered.
“Thanks for coming too,” Lucia said and hugged him. Ted steeled himself when his gaze fell on Mitch. He suddenly felt the rage surging inside him make his hands fist strongly. It only took a smile from his wife to make the rage slip away. Both mothers turned and their shock was so evident on their faces.
“Yeah I know this must come as a surprise to you all. There has been a lot of history between us but we have put all that behind us. You can see this handsome guy beside her; she has moved on.”
“Mitch Tudor, is that you?” Mrs. Bourbon asked, still in shock.
“Yes ma’am; I know it has been a while.” Mitch walked towards her and shook her hand.
“My wandering son has finally come back home.” Mitch laughed. Ted whose gaze was fixed on Mitch turned to face his wife when he felt her hands on his waist.
“I invited him over so you two can work out your differences. It was my misconception which broke you two apart this time around so I want to make things right. Please promise me you’ll make up with him.” He sighed, looking into her eyes. She blinked pleadingly. He replied her with a kiss.
“Thank you.” He smiled and patted her cheek.
“Okay, can we all please move to the table?” Lucia asked. After they had all settled, Ted said grace and they started eating. Mrs. Baker watched closely as Lucia and Anita chatted from time to time.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Mrs. Bourbon said to Mrs. Baker. She nodded, still watching the young ladies.
“Don’t worry; she’s not that stupid,” she said, tapping her hand.
“I can feel your mother’s gaze burning at me,” Anita muttered to Lucia.
“Ignore it; they will get over it.”
When they were done, Lucia signaled Ted with a look who okayed it with a nod. She cleared her throat.
“May I have your attention please?” When the table had gone quiet, she said, “Thank you all once again for honoring our invitation. Apart from using this dinner as an occasion to meet up with everyone and spend some time together, I…I mean we thought it wise to make this happen so we can both apologize to all of you for the pretty disturbing news you might have heard about us. We went through a difficult time and we both handled it the wrong way which could have ended nastily but we thank God it didn’t end that way. So if you find yourself here, we just want to reassure you that you can still believe in us and our union and we promise to do our best to make this marriage last.”
“Okay…and your husband’s ex is also seated at this table for what reason?” Mrs. Baker asked her daughter in a cold tone.
“Well, the thing is Anita will always be a part of Ted’s life which means my life as well. It is true we have had our differences in the past which always had a dramatic undertone but the truth is, she does care for my husband’s welfare. All the times that I’ve been away, she has been around taking care of him and I owe her for that. I know it sounds absurd; I couldn’t accept it at first but I’m seeing things from a different perspective now. As fate would have it, she is dating Mitch now which proves that she has moved on.”
“Mitch is similar to my son in so many ways. Who are you not to think that she’s just dating him to substitute for Ted in her heart?” Mrs. Bourbon asked.
“Well…” Anita chuckled at the comment.
“I doubt that’s the case and even if it is, that is not my problem. As long as her eyes are no longer fixated on my husband, I could care less. But I have had the opportunity to get to know Mitch and I can say he is a great guy. They will be happy together,” Lucia said confidently.
“If you say so.”
“And I invited Mitch over too because I caused a rift between him and my husband and I want that to be rectified. I watched him bond with my husband for the short period he was here and I was impressed. I was content to see my husband that happy. There’s a spot in his heart that my love might not be enough to fill. He needs his best friend and Mitch is the best friend so I hope that by the time you leave here, things will be better between you two.”
Mitch nodded his consent. Lucia raised her glass.
“I propose a toast. I toast to a fresh start in our relationship as a family and as friends. Cheers.”
Anita helped Lucia clear the table. When Lucia placed the last set of plates in the sink, Anita said, “I was really touched about what you said back in there. I know our friendship is on probationary basis but the truth is, apart from Ted and maybe Allen, I don’t really have any friends. And the thing is, Mitch proposed.”
Lucia gasped and covered her mouth with her hands in astonishment.
“I know; I couldn’t believe it myself. So, for the second and hopefully last time, I’m asking you to be my lady of honor.”
“Are you kidding me? I’d be honored.” They hugged.
“I am happy for you, Anita. Mitch seems like a great guy. You’re a lucky girl.”
“I guess I am.”
Mitch approached Ted and offered his hand. Ted took it and they had a firm handshake.
“Sure thing; as long as you don’t set your eyes on my wife.”
Mitch lifted his hands in surrender. “I have Anita now.”
“Aha…come to think of that? How did that happen?” Mitch laughed.
“I wonder myself…”
Heaven- nearly a household name worldwide although its meaning is subjective. For those from religious background, it is the promised eternal resting place for the ones who have lived faithful lives to their Maker. For others, any momentary period of ecstasy and happiness is their definition of heaven.
For those who do not know our God or refuse to believe in Him, they can choose to create their idea of heaven. But for us who do know our God and are highly anticipating his second coming, spending forever with Him is all that matters to us.
But the idea of heaven should not be restricted to life after death. We can experience heaven on earth. What is it about the place that excites us so much? Apart from the bonus package of never having to experience pain or sorrow ever again, we get to feel His presence for eternity.
But who says we have to wait till after death for us to experience His presence? If the anticipation of feeling His presence all the time is what we are looking forward to, we can have a foretaste of heaven right here and now. Just invite Him to your room, office, class, bus or wherever you may find yourself and He will come be with you. His presence comes with peace, inexplicable joy and rekindled hope for the morrow. His presence is full of pure serenity just like heaven.
We have a preview of how awesome heaven will be like whenever we feel God’s presence in our midst. Don’t let go of the presence by allowing worry and doubt creep in, killing the atmosphere. Let His presence take charge and fill you with the power to overcome your temporary challenges and keep you under His mighty wings.
Inspired by “Your presence is heaven to me” track by Israel Houghton.
I recently became a big fan of the football (soccer) game. I enjoy watching the players display their skills and the whole art of teamwork on the field. I am always fascinated by the enthusiastic chants by faithful fans and supporters despite the score line. They never give up on cheering their team on till the final whistle. And even when the results are not in their favor, they still applaud their players for their hard work. One great lesson I have learned is that every player is important-no matter how ‘insignificant’ we may esteem him to be.That is why a 10-man team will lose a match no matter how good the ten may be. A team is handicapped when it is incomplete.
But I greatly underestimated the role of the manager (coach). I thought what mattered most was the quality of players and their chemistry on the pitch. Because plans made can always be modified when the game starts. But I was proven wrong when I witnessed the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit as Manchester United manager.
Every avid football fan can testify to the ‘grace-to-grass’ status of the Red Devils. Many people became dismayed as the once ‘feared’ team got beaten over and over again by teams we did not even consider to be match-worthy. What changed, I ask myself? Because it is the same players who play all the time.
I am not saying the new manager is not good enough; I am sure he is worthy of his salt and he is doing everything in his power to raise the team’s flag again. My point simply is when someone on a big stage succeeds, yes he deserves the applause but the crew backstage should also receive their due credit. Every performer has a manager who makes sure that he/she gives the performance to the audience but most of the time, we forget the one pulling the strings backstage and only focus on the one in the limelight.
So whatever you do, appreciate your mentor, supervisor or teacher. Without his or her input, your talent would not be as harnessed as it is today. You may think you don’t need him but you do. Don’t wait till it’s too late before you realize that.