The words hung in the early morning fall air completing the task the leaves on the trees kept attempting but failing to do as it hit the ground.
Lorelai Victoria Gilmore was stunned… and yet, not so much. Rory had been slipping and sliding for the past year at least and as much as those two words drew her back at first, it was easy to accept. The pink-faced baby who arrived at 4:03 in the morning 32 years ago was now a woman. She wasn't 16, and she was Rory. Yes, she knew Lorelai Leigh Gilmore would be just fine no matter what.
"Mom" she heard, jolting her from her contemplation causing her to lock her concentration back at the mirror-image blue eyes that she was so proud she passed along to her loin fruit.
"So, what are you going to do?"
"I don't know. I was hoping, unlike with the winged-turtle bird costume and the graduation proposal from Logan, you'd tell me what to do."
"Angel, you know I can't do that."
"I know, mom… God Adulting is hard. I thought those were the major decisions of my life. But this year… well this year's like the rollercoaster road trip we never did take. I messed up. I messed up a lot. I not only made mistakes, I repeated old ones. And as unbelievable as that sounds to some people, it's been a long time coming. I guess I just wanted to feel something. Anything. I wanted to feel and now… I really feel now. I don't know what to do. Mom, give me some sage advice at least, more specific than a fortune cookie. I know you can't decide but I need your input. Gosh, it's like the day I moved into Yale all over again. I need my mommy."
Rory didn't realize it but she was starting to cry during her classic Gilmore speed of a rant when Lorelai drew her into a tight hug. All she could think was how much of a disappointment she must be to this woman who gave her everything- not just her name or her life's blood, but her sweat and her courage. Courage she completely lacked right in this moment.
No words came for a few minutes, but Rory's breathing steadied and her tears slowed until she was able to finally get the courage to look at her mom.
Lorelai again locked eyes with her and said the exact opposite of what Rory was expecting to hear.
"Kid, (and yes I get to call you kid because no matter what you're always mine and don't you dare forget that for one moment) it's going to be fine. You're going to be fine. I won't tell you what choice to make and I might sound Somewhere between Confucius and that amazing Anonymous who posts those memes online that Christopher sends you and Gigi 5 times a day, but the most sage advice I can give you is this: "Trust yourself, you'll know in your gut if it's right."
"A little less Confucius and a lot more Zig Ziglar." Rory retorted without much thinking. That's just the ease that her mom had always been able to put her into. One minute panic, the next- Disco. "I expected you to be disappointed in me. I expected this to be a fight."
"Well maybe Lorelai Gilmore would have been, but I'm Lorelai Danes. I promised you years ago I'd secede the title of the Reigning Lorelai to you. Today's that day. I dub thee, the reigning Lorelai. The scepter and crown are in the mail."
"Mooom…" Rory rolled her eyes.
"Joking. I could never be disappointed in you, my angel, fruit of my loins, flesh of my flesh, double double toil and trouble…." Lorelai could see her usual quippy wit wasn't getting through the seriousness of the moment. It was that same look she got when she told Rory she helped Christopher when Sherri left him.
"Ok, I can see my attempts to make you smile right now are futile. You've got a lot on your mind. I get it. The day the strip turned pink was the day my world changed too. You have options. You have support with whatever you do. I'm here for you."
"Can you just hug me for a few more minutes before we go and get you ready for your third marriage?" Rory asked, feeling all of 8 years old for asking it but needing her mother's embrace just for 5 minutes longer.
"Of course" Lorelai replied, already holding her little girl in her arms. "You know, it seems only right that I marry Luke twice. I married the wrong man once, but I'm marrying the right man now and I'd marry him a thousand more. With Chris, I wouldn't take his name. Part of me could never give in to that. It was always meant to be Luke. That's why I'm going to be Lorelai Danes."
The words floated from her mouth to Rory as if she'd decided that long ago, but it was actually in that moment that she knew. She knew she was Lorelai Victoria Danes. Luke would never force her to change her name, and that made it all the easier to accept it, to enjoy it.