He wasn't sure why he got out of his chair and went to his bedroom and opened the closet door. He was even more curious as to why he reached for the box on the top shelf- the faded blue shoe box that was hidden carefully in the back behind boxes of Ronee's shoes. He guessed that Ronee didn't know about the blue box. He had certainly never told her. Before he and Ronee got married he had no idea it was possible for any woman to own so many shoes.
The sound of her name in his mind brought a familiar ache to his chest. It was the kind of ache that came on all of a sudden and more than once it sent Ronee, Daphne and Niles to his side, asking if he was having a heart attack. His answer was always no (except that one time when Frasier scared him with that clown outfit). They were baffled as usual as to what brought it on, but Martin knew the answer. It was the kind of pain that could only come from missing someone so much.
When he blinked, his eyes were wet, but he refused to acknowledge the fact that he was crying. He never cried-not in front of people anyway. Niles had always told him that when a man cried it was a sign of weakness. Martin didn't believe it for a second, especially when David was born or when Niles finally married the woman of his dreams. But as usual he kept his mouth shut. No sense in ruining those wonderful moments. He'd always dismissed Niles' ridiculous opinions as nonsense. Men could cry; he'd seen it happen all the time in movies. But now he wondered if Niles had been right all along.
The faded blue shoe box was still in his hand and Martin knew that he should return it to its' hiding place on the back of the shelf. The sounds of the Mariners' game floated from the living room. The crowd began to cheer loudly, making him wonder what he was missing. He was almost jealous and he was sure that he was missing the greatest comeback in history. But he couldn't make his feet move.
Woodenly he carried the box to the dining room and sat down at the table. His trusty cane had been a godsend, keeping him from suffering a fall on his short journey to the bedroom and back. But he couldn't give his cane all of the credit. Daphne deserved most, if not all. Without her constant nagging and pushing him to do his exercises, he didn't know where he would have ended up. He certainly didn't imagine ending up here.
He set the shoe box on the table and opened the lid. The musty scent wafted under his nose. The box was filled with pictures, arranged haphazardly. He picked one up and looked at it. Like all of the other photographs, it was worn and faded, but it was amazing that something so small could produce so many memories.
The woman in the photograph was smiling, her eyes focused on the baby she held in her arms. Martin could see Frasier's small features clearly. He remembered taking the photo as though it were yesterday. He'd been so happy the day that Frasier was born. And more in love with Hester than ever before-until Niles came along-and then he fell in love with Hester all over again.
There were lots more pictures in the box. He removed each one, absorbing the memories that were attached to them. Hester looked absolutely beautiful in her wedding dress (the one that she insisted was "too plain"-how wrong she was) and Martin had to admit that he looked pretty handsome in his uniform. Sure, he could have worn a suit and tie like most grooms did, but he was proud to represent the Seattle Police Department by wearing his finest. The photo may have been in black and white, but the colors were vivid in his memory.
The day he married Hester Palmer was the happiest day of his life. God how he missed her.