L Y L A H
The room light dimmed, with a spotlight shining at the front of the room. “Dance Avec Moi” started playing, and suddenly I saw Edene and Phylipa appear singing the chorus. Talk about a surprise, I hadn’t seen them in years! Edene handed me a mic and I got up to sing the verse. It felt like old times working the crowd with the girls. Lau couldn’t resist, he got up and joined us on stage, doing the routine with Phylipa. We ended our impromptu performance to a standing ovation from everyone in the room. I hugged each of the girls, and we all returned to sit at my table, Lau joining us. Not even a minute later, a video began playing on the projector. It was of me and Larry four years ago. We were playing around singing to each other.
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You never know dear, how much I love you
Please, don’t take my sunshine away
A bunch of “awws” filled the room in unison. My hands covered my mouth as I fought back tears from the sweet memory. The video ended, only to be replaced with footage of Lilo when she was starting to walk, my voice in the background.
“Montrez le papa que vous pouvez faire.” (Show daddy what you can do.)
After finally steadying herself on her little feet, she took five waddling steps.
“Oui bébé! Papa et maman si fière de toi!” (Yes baby! Mommy and Daddy so proud of you!)
I pulled her into my arms positioning the camera to show both of our faces.
“Dire ‘tu nous manques, papa’.” (Say, ‘we miss you, daddy’.)
Lilo did her best with her gibberish.
“Donnez-papa un baiser.” (Give daddy a kiss.)
She mimicked my lip pucker and kissed towards the camera before it ended. I remembered I recorded that video for Larry while he was away on one of his many business trips. He hated not being there to witness the milestone moment first-hand, so I recorded it to make him feel like he was a part of the experience. I looked around and saw men and women alike with palms over hearts, tissue in hands, and tears in eyes. If it weren’t for the time I spent on this makeup, I wouldn’t be fighting my tears so hard. Someone handed me a tissue anyway, and I blotted the corners of my eyes where tears were forming.
Another video began playing. This time, it was of Larry. I had never seen this one before, and by the looks of it, it was rather recent.
“Happy Birthday, belle! I hope you’re enjoying the show so far. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s a timeline. From the first time we met during Les Deeses days, to the love we share creating our gorgeous babygirl. Can you guess where I am right now? Hold on, let me show you.”
He spun the camera around to show the scenery. I knew exactly where he was, and it had me cheesing like an idiot. The camera returned back to his face.
“I know you guessed it. Parc des Buttes. I’m standing in the exact same spot where we had our picnic for our first date. I remember how your lips felt when we shared our first kiss, too.
He touched his lips and closed his eyes as if he were reminiscing.
“They were mmmm.”
He shot his eyes open, obviously remembering this video was showing in front of at least 200 people.
“Sorry, mama! I’m a good boy, I promise,” he said holding his hands in prayer style, flashing that boyish smile.
I looked back at Mama B and saw her jokingly scowling at the screen. I returned my eyes to Larry.
“I wanted to make this birthday extra special and unforgettable to show you how much you mean to me. From the beginning, you believed in me. You encouraged me to be everything I never thought I could be. You’ve been an incredible mother to our daughter and I can never thank you enough. Lylah, you are the love of my life.”
The video ended, and the DJ started playing Michael Jackson’s “Lady in my Life”. Larry emerged from the side door singing into a mic, with a single rose in hand—the same type of rose he gave me on our first date.
There’ll be no darkness tonight
Lady, our love will shine (lighting the light)
Just put your trust in my heart
And meet me in paradise (now is the time)
Girl, you’re every wonder in this world to me
A treasure time won’t steal away
So listen to my heart
Lay your body close to mine
Let me fill you with my dreams
I can make you feel alright
And, baby, through the years
Gonna love you more each day
So I promise you tonight
That you’ll always be the lady in my life
The music stopped, and he gave me the rose before taking my hand to stand me up.
“Lylah, you’ve been a principal character in many chapters of my life’s story. Now, I want to co-author a new story with you—one that begins and ends with us.”
He pulled a black, velvet box from his pocket as he knelt on one knee. There was no more fighting them, an excessive stream of tears flowed down my cheeks. He popped open the box, revealing the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen.
I heard his mother holler out from the back of the room, “Je le savais!” (I knew it!)
My former band mates were squealing and bouncing in their seats, and all kinds of odd reaction noises echoed throughout various parts of the room. Lau sat there, eyes and mouth wide. I could only assume he was as shocked as I was.
“Will you make me the happiest man alive and say you’ll always be the lady in my life?”
“Yes!” I replied excitedly jumping up and down in place.
He slid the ring on my finger, and the whole room roared with cheers as we kissed. Everyone came rushing us with congratulatory wishes. Nichelle made her way over and hugged me and Larry tightly to congratulate us.
“Finally! I was in pain keeping that secret!”
She nodded her head as Larry followed up with a verbal response.
“She sure did. She was the only person I could trust with the secret. She helped me pick the ring and everything, belle. By the way, that’s the name of the ring. I knew it would fit you perfectly.”
I stared down at my hand, admiring the new piece of jewelry that adorned my ring finger.
“And you were right. It’s so me. I love it!”
“You two are what love looks like. I’m so happy for y’all!”
She gave each of us a hug and kiss on the cheek before she disappeared into the crowd. The DJ’s voice came blaring over the music.
“Yo, will the future newlyweds please report to the dance floor.”
Larry led me out to the open space that the crowd created. The DJ put on our song again, and we slow danced, never breaking our stare from each other’s eyes. Everything around us seemed to disappear. I never felt more alive or more beautiful than I did under his gaze in that moment. The one true love of my life was about to become my husband, the way it was always meant to be.