Disclaimer: These characters are fictional. Don't dwell on them too much. But enjoy the comfort and warm fuzzy feels of all forms of love. This is a tear-jerker. Prepare your tissues.

Chapter 9: Teddy Bear's Permission

Within two months, the whole world changed as the pandemic surged on. But their country had control of it better than some parts of the world. Thankfully, that helped Algan's relationship flourish under the new normal.

One year as a couple, they were still madly in love with each other. In comparison to their past relationships, what they have was unexpectedly light and easy despite the world's circumstances. Probably, the years had taught them well and they had always belonged to each other.

Although work for them had already started beyond virtual meetings and shooting schedules were hectic, it was not that difficult for them to adjust. They made sure that their every day and night will end with their laughter and smiles even from miles apart.

And they meant to make that a permanent arrangement. Contrary to what they felt by the ocean years ago, they both felt that this relationship was meant to withstand anything in the long run. They knew they were ready the moment they had a chance to be together again after a very long time in quarantine.

They realized on their own that being married to each other was not a thought in haste but had been a long time coming. They had not expressed it out loud to each other but their hearts knew. And it was the hope of their families, especially their mums.

Since the couple was separately working out of town, Maxine would go to Dawn to check up on her and bond over their children, with all safety precautions in place. Most of the time they were in the backyard, having some tea.

"Can you believe it? They've been dating for a year now and they're so perfect together." Dawn was looking at Charlie running around the garden. "Yes, it's incredible to witness." Maxine sipped on her earl grey. "I've never seen my daughter this happy and radiant with a man deserving of her love. She's been through a lot and I've seen it all."

She gave a comforting pat on Dawn's shoulder. "You raised a brave and beautiful soul, Dawn. My son is so blessed to be loved by her." Her warm smile shined with the sunset. Dawn was touched by the statement and reciprocated. "My daughter is lucky to have your son. You raised a fine and worthy man, Max." She raised the teacup to commend her. Then, they cherished their sentimental moment in happy sighs.

"I hope they end up marrying," Dawn added. Maxine snickered and leaned a little closer to her companion. "I'm gonna give you a heads up. Alan has expressed that he wants to marry Megan soon."

Dawn's eyes widened in brilliance. "Oh my! That's good to hear! I hope my baby says yes. He would be the best son-in-law." Her friend laughed. "Oh, our hopes align well. Megan has always been my ideal daughter-in-law. So he better not screw it up." Now, it was Dawn's turn to laugh.

It was loud and joyous enough to reach Megan's ears by the front door. She just arrived from her weekend shoot and was excited to see who accompanied her mum that afternoon. She went straight to the open backdoor but hid by the wall to eavesdrop.

Maxine. What are the odds that you're here? Just when I have to tell you something that might be the craziest thing you'll hear in your life. She peeked through the side and saw her gorgeous mum.

"If you think about it, they have been screwing it up for years. I mean, it took a pandemic for them to finally be together." They shared a boisterous laugh at the hilarity of their children's decisions.

Oh babe, if only you were here. The nerve of our mums is quite an entertainment. She grinned from ear to ear upon grasping their conversation.

"That proves to show they are sometimes their father's child." And another set of laughter ensued.

Megan lost her control and chimed into the ladies' insights. "Is that so? I bet Alan and I heard that growing up so we will never forget." The two ladies looked up to welcome Megan in the conversation while Charlie decided to just collide with Megan's leg.

"Good Lord, Charlie!" The ladies giggled as the silly dog was excited all over with Megan's arrival. Maxine finally spoke for the defense of the mums' opinion. "Oh, because Dawn and I are not slowpokes. You both got that from your dads."

She was enamored with the thoughts of her father. "Because we just decided to be finally together this year?" And the besties nodded incessantly at her. Dawn backed up her friend. "Everybody. And I mean, everybody knew you were both in love with each other years ago except for both of you."

The crowd laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of the couple's oblivious nature. Megan sighed after. "Okay, fine. But at least we made it. Right?" Maxine captured Megan's notion. "Almost. We all know what we want out of this." She held out her hand and made her fingers dance gesturing to seal a ring on it.

Megan tenderly smiled at it but was chased down by her plan that made her clear her throat. "Like I've told you, dear Maxine, we'll get there when we get there."

"Well then, I hope we get there sooner." Their heads turned to Dawn, who gave her daughter an impatient look. "To that, I very much agree." Max lifted her teacup as the mother and daughter tandem gave attention to her.

The ladies continued on their bonding until dinner which Maxine stayed for. After dessert, Megan insisted on walking Max back to her house since she wants to voice her agenda. While on their way back to Van Sprang's residence, Megan didn't know how to begin what she intended to say.

Maxine felt a tension looming over her and called it out. "Megan, are you alright? Is there something you want to share with me?" They were already by the porch when Megan answered within her mask.

"I think you might want to sit down for this. What I'm about to say is pretty much unorthodox but not a rush crazy decision. Well, not in my opinion." She let out a nervous laugh.

"Well then, spill it, child. Your first statement does not give me comfort." Maxine was blatant with her worry so Megan went head-on and shocked the life out of Alan's mother.

"I… would like to propose to your son. I want to ask Alan, his hand, for marriage."

"I'm sorry, what?!" was all Lyla could say over the virtual meeting while her brother was visibly shocked as well.

As if the universe conspired in timing, the moment Megan chose to talk to Maxine was the moment Alan arranged a meeting with Lyla and Russell online.

"Yes, you heard it right. I would like to get your permission if I could marry your mum." The proposal was not a shock to them. They felt Alan had made it clear he wanted to be with no other woman but their mother. They also wanted that for her. But what made them worry was if their mum was ready for another marriage.

"You already know our answer, Alan. We've told you before that we are on your side. And we trust that you will make our mum happy and loved." Lyla started then Russell pushed through within reason. "But we are more worried about how she'll take this. It's no secret that she's been through this and might not want to have it again."

Alan smiled considerately. "I understand where you're coming from. I share your worry. Likewise, if I was in your mother's shoes, I'd be hesitant to remarry. But I'm prepared to be rejected by her if she thinks it's not yet the best time or she has no intention to be in that level of commitment again."

The siblings felt a certain swirl in their tummies upon hearing Alan's brave front. That rejection was an absolute possibility and they don't know how they will handle that. Alan can see that they were visibly distressed with what he said.

So, he tried to ease their fret with his reassurance. "Don't get me wrong. That possible rejection will not lead us to a breakup, at least not from my end. I won't break up with her just because she turned down my marriage proposal. I love your mother very much and the point of my proposal is for her to know that I want to be with her for the rest of my life." They were touched by his words. They knew their mum made the right choice. Alan continued.

"I will only break up with her if she doesn't love me or want me anymore. And we all know she will address that if that was the case."

Hesitant chortles came out from them as thoughts of what their futures would look like moving forward. "For a second there, you made us think that we'll get our hearts broken. I mean, the whole family is rooting for both of you." Lyla was just being honest.

Russell nodded in agreement. Alan was beholden by both of their families' love and support. "I'm pretty much aware of that and truly appreciative of it. That's why it is important for me to also ask the whole family's permission. And I kinda need your help with that." He let out an anxious laugh.

"No problem, Alan. Whatever you need, I'll help you with it." Ly answered him. "Yeah, we'll help you with anything. What do you have in mind?" Russ offered and inquired. Alan immediately replied.

"I need to go to the cemetery."

"Excuse me? Are you serious about this?" was all Maxine could manage to blurt out. Megan expected that reaction and snickered her way to respond.

"Yes. I know it's quite surprising but I've thought about it very well. You're the first person I've confided to about it 'cause I want to ask for your permission for his hand."

Before she could convey her amazement at the younger woman, Megan followed up immediately. "I know he's an adult already but he is still your son and your opinion matters to us." She removed her mask for a while to show Max her sincere face.

"But why are you the one to propose to him and not wait for him to do it like the society is accustomed to?" Maxine expressed that from a good place with no malice intended as she also removed her mask. Both were safely distant from each other's seats.

Alan's mother was a pretty open-minded woman. She was not judging Megan's plan but rather interested as to why she wanted to do it. "It's simply because I love him and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I guess, I also don't want to wait anymore and society does not dictate our relationship." She was looking at the floor in contemplation while Max observed her ideal daughter-in-law.

"We've waited long enough for us to be together. Throughout, we kept on hesitating and that hurt us, even if not intended. I would like to let him know that even if I've been married before, this is the first time that I'm ready for marriage and we are worth this chance." Megan looked through his mother's eyes.

Maxine had already given the blessing Megan was asking the moment she loved Alan. But she knew Megan needed to hear it.

"Then, you have my blessing, Megan. I want the best for my son and you are the best miracle he ever experienced." They shared a reassuring smile. "I hope he will say yes." Their smile turned to laughter. "He will say yes. The question is how he will shout that out." Megan laughed at the thought. But Maxine was overjoyed at a different idea.

I just now realized that you are going to propose to each other! What a uniquely fantastic event! I can't wait to talk about this with Dawn.

Then she had to ask. "So when will you tell this to Dawn and your family, especially your kids?" Megan's smile dropped to a sigh. "As much as I want them to know first, they tend to be overly excited and forget the meaning of 'secret'." Max had to laugh at that.

"But probably I'll tell my children tomorrow. Then mum and my siblings. My family adores Alan but for sure they will tease me if Alan will say yes." Max giggled to her imagination on Megan's announcement to the Follows.

"Well, good luck to you then. I think we should go inside now. I take it that you'll talk to Logan?" Megan smiled happily and followed Max inside.

"Woah. I didn't expect that." was Russell's response. Lyla can't believe what she just heard. "Alan, that is beautiful. I… don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything. I just believe it is the right thing to do." Alan sincerely smiled at her children. The thought that Alan would go to his grandfather's grave to pay respect and internally ask for her mother's hand brought Russ's level of respect for Alan to new heights. He was the man he aspired to be.

"I'll accompany you. It's been a while since I visited Pops." They shared a warm smile through the screen. "Thanks, Russ. I appreciate that."

"Oh, if you set it tomorrow, it will be my last day in the quarantine facility. Fetch me and the three of us can go together." They both nodded at the lady and talked about more of Alan's proposal when his phone rang suddenly.

"Hello?" Megan knocked on Logan's open door. "May I enter?" She smiled kindly as she removed her mask.

"Mumzy? What are you doing here?" He was all smiling. He was about to stand when she gestured to stay where he was.

He sat by the window while she pulled a chair and placed it at a safe distance. He closed the journal that she gave him and set it aside. "I'm glad to see you, mumzy. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, were you busy writing? I'm sorry to disturb you. I just wanted to talk to you and it won't take long." Logan shook his head. "You're never a disturbance, mumzy. What is it that you want to talk about?"

She smiled before she braced herself to lay down her intentions. "Logan, you know I love your dad, you, and your family. Right?" He nodded at her. "Well, I would like to ask if you will allow me to propose marriage to your dad."

Logan's expression couldn't be discerned. It couldn't be placed as to what emotion. Megan became worried for a moment. "Logan? Dear?"

He lowered his head but a certain glow was evident. "Dad never loved anyone the way he loved you. Now, I understand why." Megan was quite confused "What do you mean, dear?" She had to understand.

"You are not like the others, mumzy. You never begged his attention. You never became overbearing. You were very honest with yourself and dad. Too honest that you didn't force yourselves to be together even obviously, you both loved each other. Dad said all the circumstances made both of you not ready in your respective time. And when the right time came, you knew what you wanted and needed. You were both ready and worthy of each other. You've always known your worth."

Megan's face was shocked, to say the least. Is this the same Logan running around the set years ago? His wisdom is beyond his years. A tender smile slowly crept on her face.

Logan returned to her with a knowing smile. He also sat on that seat and smiled like that when he shared he wanted to marry you. If that doesn't say meant to be, I don't know what is. The young man's mind enveloped the scene.

"The idea is unique, mumzy. It makes a man proposing to a woman boring. And of course, you had all the power to do that. Just like the true queen that you are." The two of them laughed. Then, in contemplation, he asked. "Mumzy, this is a dumb question but why are you breaking the norm?" She anticipated the question and knew the answer right off the bat.

"So hmm, sorry for my term, but screw society and the norm. It's not wrong to propose to the man you love. So might as well just do it." She made an 'oh well' gesture that made him nod incessantly.

"Very well said, mumzy. Well, then, good luck with your plan. I will help you in any way I can. We all know he'll say yes. We just don't know how much he'll cry about you proposing." Megan snickered at Logan's thoughts. "You and Max shared the same idea."

'Well, you know Dad. He could be dramatic at times." They loved mocking Alan in good fun. Megan gave him the proudest smile. "Look at how you've grown. You were just a kid when your dad and I became friends. Now, you're a young man when your dad and I became together. Thank you for understanding our situation"

"I was raised by a King and Queen. It just makes sense I'm like this." Logan returned the proud smile. "Let me walk you home, mumzy. Dad would be furious if I let you go home alone."

And of course, my love raised you to be such a gentleman. But Megan didn't want her future son-in-law to leave his own house. "I'll be alright, dear. I can manage myself. I will call your dad while walking and I'll message you once I've arrived home safely."

My future mum-in-law is a strong independent woman. I'm so lucky. "I see. I understand. Thank you for reassuring me." Then, they went out of the room and Logan accompanied Megan up to the front porch as Max followed suit. "Thank you for tonight. I'm hoping for the best for this secret plan. Thank you for helping me out."

"You're welcome, mumzy. Please take care." With that, they said their goodbyes in the briefest hugs, and Megan went on her way. "So… They thought of the same plan and are going to propose to each other? That is incredible." The young man blurted as he and his grandma followed Megan by their vision. "Yup. It will be the most iconic proposal ever." The two beamed in amazement as Megan dialed Alan while walking back home.

"Uhmm, guys. Your mummy is calling. Did you mention to her this call?" Their hearts skipped a beat and they panicked. "No. Did you, Ly?" Her brother was looking at her suspiciously. "Of course, I did not!" None of them thought to just end the zoom meeting.

So, Alan gestured for them to keep quiet while he answered the phone. They muted their mic but they didn't disconnect so they could hear the conversation. Alan placed Megan on speaker.

"Hi, babe. How are you? You didn't reply to me when I checked upon your arrival. Are you home already?" He almost stumbled on his words as her children were giggling on the screen.

"Oh, I'm sorry for my late reply. I didn't have a chance to check my phone when I arrived 'cause we had a guest. Your mother."

Alan's face was surprised. Her children couldn't help but wonder. "Mum? Was she visiting Dawn? She didn't bother telling me she'll go there."

Megan's laughter filled their ears. "Well, you know your mum. She loves surprises. Anyway, I walked her to your house and now I'm walking back to mine."

"Logan didn't accompany you back home?" He sounded concerned. "He knew you'd say that but I insisted on going on my own. I don't want him to leave the house. I called so I could have a company. Are you busy?"

Silent laughs were projected on the screens before Alan could lie about it. "I see. Okay. Oh, not really, no. It was a long shoot day. Now, I'm just watching a movie about… two families? I forgot the title." Ly did a facepalm on such a lame excuse while Russ continued laughing hysterically.

Megan snarked a comment. "You forgot? Well, that shows your age." Another set of her laughs filled the room, but this time, her children chimed along with her. "Oh, but before I tease you further, did you have dinner already?"

Alan looked at his almost empty plate while her children gave a thumbs up with their clean plates. The zoom meeting was a dinner date for them. "Yes. I had a very interesting dinner."

"Oh, good. So did I. I'll tell you all about it later. I'm by the porch already. I'll take a bath first then I'll call again. Love you."

She instantly hung up and in less than a second, the Follows siblings unmuted their mics and kept laughing. "Alan, what kind of excuse was that?" Ly mocked Alan.

He just lowered his head in laughter and shame. "Yeah, I know. My head went blank." Then he just gestured an 'Oh well' with his arms. "I think we should call it a night. Mum will be calling soon." Russ intervened. His virtual companions nodded in agreement.

"Again, thank you for giving me your blessing and for all the help you offered. I'm beyond grateful." His sincere intentions glowed at them. "It's the least that we could do. We thank you for making our mother happy and loved. You both deserve this." Ly replied.

"She's right. We hope mum says yes." Russ answered in support of his sister. "Yes. I share that hope. So I'll count on both of you for our little secret. Then, we could be a happy blended family." The three imagined the promising future and said their goodbyes.

After a few moments, Megan messaged Logan, and the couple FaceTimed as promised. "Hi, my love. Did you miss me?" Megan was in her robe and drying her hair. Alan rested his head on his hand while he was mesmerized by the beauty of his love.

"I always miss you. I can't seem to get enough of you. But no worries, I'll be with you soon. So how was your trip to my house without me?" Megan still blushed at his sweet nothings.

"It was quite fruitful. Max visited mum since we were out of town. She stayed for dinner then I accompanied her home so I had a chance to catch up on Logan."

"Oh, my boy. I'm glad you bonded. What did you talk about?" Megan showed a timid smile with a hesitant start. She can't tell him that she asked his son for a blessing so she could propose to him.

"Well, I asked how he was doing and his plans." In truth, they talked about how she will be his new official mum. "I see. Was his answer quite promising?"

"Oh, yes, most definitely." She was enthralled by the memory of their talk. "He is an incredible young man, Alan. You raised him well."

Alan smiled back with pride. "We raised him well. You've always been a mother to him even if we don't have a romantic relationship." Megan was enamored. "I'm lucky to have you both in my life and I'm excited about our future together." Alan was taken aback. Perhaps it's the surreal feeling he asked her children for their blessing and now she might see it through as well.

"So, how was your dinner? Do you remember the title of the movie you were watching?" Megan teased her love. Alan shyly smiled. "Ha-ha. Yes, it's Blended. Two families just like ours. Watching that makes me excited about our future too." He charmingly answered as he reflected on what he truly watched. It was her children and how they glowed in their mother's love. And now, it was the radiant smile of his Megan on the screen with that teddy bear they won from the arcade years as her background.

"I see that Teddy has been watching over you. It's quite astonishing how he came to our lives at the most uncertain time between us within a better world and now how he watches us with certainty in our hearts in a pandemic riddled world." It was Megan's turn to be taken aback. To understand what he meant and hear her dad's nickname again was unexpected.

She looked at the bear then returned to Alan. "That's quite a realization, a very sentimental one at that." He drew himself closer. "Sentimental because I won that for you?"

They twinkled at the memory. "Yes, and he has Dad's nickname. And having it here seems he witnessed how our relationship evolved. It's truly wonderful how far we've come."

Alan genuinely felt a cold wind crept on his spine. Not that he felt terrified. It was literal chills that Megan mentioned about her dad just when he had all the plans to go to the man's grave, together with her son, to pay respect before he would propose to her. It could have been sheer coincidence or his spirits working on their moment. Either way, he basked into it.

In their respective minds, they pictured their proposals as another milestone to be unlocked. They wondered how each other would react to a surprise of their lifetime. They knew it's just a matter of time and consideration but both of them felt an overwhelming surrealness at the prospect. Their secret individual plans were tucked in their hearts.

As per usual, they talked for an hour but there was something that loomed over that night that hit their pauses in between sentences. They were floating in their headspace if one could express from the scene. After their goodnights, Megan's attention went back to the bear. It was on her bedside table and it took her back to a day her dad gave her first teddy bear. She took it and hugged it tightly. As she stroked the fine faux fur, she could hear her dad's words in her mind.

Whenever you miss me, just look for a teddy bear and you will never feel alone. His voice seemed so real that her tears collected and fell spontaneously. "Is this you showing me that he won you? Because he did, didn't he?" She hugged it one more time. "Oh dad, I wish you were here. I love him so much and I bet you would support me in this plan. I'm finally happy and I wish I could share that with you. I miss you, dad."

She laid down on her bed and fell asleep with her dried tears of joy and the teddy bear in hand.

Russell was on his way to the garage when he noticed his mum's door was opened. He was just about to close it but her sleeping mum caught his attention.

She painted a visual of serenity with a hint of innocence in the way she embraced the teddy bear in her sleep. Her son couldn't help but smile beneath his mask.

"Mum. Ly and I will accompany the man you love to Pops to pay his respect before he asks for your hand. I can't wait to have a new dad. I love you."

He whispered while gently patting her golden locks. Then he planted a kiss on her head with his mask on. "I'll be back soon, mum. Hope you'll say yes to him."

Before he left the room, he slightly opened the curtain so little light could shine in and wrote a note on her table then silently closed the door on his way out.

When Megan arose, she panicked a little because there was already sun shining on her face. Oh no, what time is it?! The blanket had no chance on her.

She confusingly faced the window. How did the light enter? Did I leave the curtains that open?

She moved across to the window to close it but noticed something unusual on her table. It was Russ' note:

Mornin', mum. I have a surprise for you today. You'll love it.

P.S. I took the car. I'll be back soon.

Love you,


"Well, you're not the only one with a surprise." She can't help but be wired by revealing her plan to the family.

"So I guess, it's gonna be Mum first," she said as she tucked the note carefully on the table. She fixed her bed, secured the bear in the middle of it, and went downstairs to talk to her mum.

Meanwhile, Russell was already at the quarantine facility to fetch Lyla and called on Alan. "Morning, man. I'm just waiting on Ly. Are you all set? We'll be there in thirty."

"Yes, my stuff is ready in my hotel. I'm actually on my way to get her ring. Thirty sounds good." Alan excitedly said while walking towards the jewelry store.

"Oh good, Ly will get to see the ring. She will rave on it for sure. Alright, see you later!" Then the men hung up their phones.

Alan got the ring, Russ got his sister, and both went to their shared destination. Once back to his hotel, he sat on his bed and contemplated on the ring as he waited for her children.

"This is just as beautiful as you. I hope your children and dad would like it." He looked at the well-crafted, diamond-studded ring that he designed himself.

In the middle of his reverie, Russ called to say they have arrived. He gathered his things and finally joined her children. With their masks on, the siblings' smiles were evident, and welcomed him in their car.

"Hi, Alan. How are you?" Ly looked at him thru the rear mirror as their car headed to the cemetery. "I'm good, thank you. How were your trip and the quarantine facility?"

"Travelling amidst pandemic was interesting but very memorable. Our country's facility is quite unexpectedly gracious and just fantastic. Another one for the books. But enough of that. Russ said you got the ring already?! Can I see it, please?"

Alan giggled at Ly's enthusiasm. He grabbed the intricate small velvet black box from his bag and carefully handed it to her. "It just has a simple design. I opted to have it in the square-cut because you know how your mum likes chunky bling."

Now, Russ giggled at Alan's statement and was right when he mentioned Ly would revel on the ring. "Oh my gosh, Alan. This is gorgeous. What does the design mean?"

The ring had a central square-cut diamond, embraced by a diamond crusted square, with two parallel diamond lines on the lateral sides and another pair of diamond lines on the top and bottom sides.

"I love to think that I'm not just asking marriage between your mum and I but rather a marriage between our families. The square diamond is the home we'll create. The lines on both sides represent Megan and I then the lines on the top and bottom are our families, particularly our children."

Ly was so touched that she lowered her mask to show Alan her brilliant smile. "That just made this ring beyond beautiful. Pops would have loved that. But no worries, the brilliance of that ring could reach the heavens." She returned the box to Alan.

"Yes. That's the goal." He took the box and secured it in his pocket. "Have you had a chance to talk to Nana? And does your family know you're proposing soon?" Ly was very inquisitive.

"I had a chat with my kid, my mum, and my sister. I haven't had a chance to talk to Dawn yet. But knowing my mum, I bet she had already mentioned that to her." The siblings laughed knowing their grandma was his mum's new BFF.

"But I will try to talk to her, together with your aunties and uncle, when Megan is off again for work this week. She said she will be back again by the weekend. So, that's when I plan to propose to her."

The Follows nodded and for the good thirty-minute drive, they smoothened out how the proposal this weekend will pan out. They arrived at the cemetery after lunch, under calm and peaceful weather.

It was just the right amount of sun shining on an autumn afternoon and gave them a breathtaking view of the place. They immediately headed out to her dad's grave with roses in hand.

Alan wasn't particularly a spiritual person but he acknowledged the fact that he would want to pay respect to the man his love owed her life. He removed his mask and internally had his words land on his name on the ground.

Good day, Mr. Follows. I'm Alan, as you probably know by now. I may have not had the chance to encounter you personally but your daughter was fond of telling stories about you that it seems I've come to know and admire. I would love to extend my gratitude to you and Dawn for raising such a wonderful woman like Megan. She is one of the strongest, most humble, most beautiful souls I've ever had in my life. She deserves all the love and be treasured for all her life. She is my dream come true and I hope to be hers as well. I love your daughter and wish to marry her with your blessing.

He can't help but smile and be grateful in this moment that he never imagined would become a reality.

I have no idea how you will give me that but I believe you'll find a way. I just know it in my heart. Just give me a sign. Because I promise you, no matter what happens, I will love your daughter until the end of my days.

His head was down low and placed his mask back on as Russ and Ly laid the flowers and lit a candle by the tombstone. While they paid their respects, a family was walking towards a grave across the opposite side.

Right after his internal promise to her dad, a force made Alan look at the family across the yard. His eyes widened and tears started to build up.

"Oh, look at that kid, Russ. Isn't she adorable? Her teddy bear even has a mask on." Russ followed his sister's vision and commented on the girl. "Yeah, that's cute. You know, she reminds me of what mum looked like when I left this morning. She was hugging the same looking bear in her sleep and she was hugging it tightly. And look, she's blond too, just like mum."

And Alan knew that bear. It reminded him of what they were talking about last night and how the bear that he won for her reminded her of her father.

He returned his eyes to her dad's name. Is this the sign, sir? Then, his attention went back to the kid. The girl lowered her mask, smiled, and waved at them.

Alan lost it. His tears silently fell from his eyes as he waved back. He was so overwhelmed with whatever was happening at that moment. Again, he was not a spiritual being. But he was certain he felt his prayer was answered without even praying.

The siblings heard a sniffle from him but his mask did a fantastic decoy so Russ had to ask to make sure. "Alan? You alright?"

He sniffled once more. "Yeah, I think we're good here. I think we could go home now." But Ly saw his eyes glistened with tears. She handed him a tissue and patted his shoulder. "Did you get what you need?"

He removed his mask and revealed his emotions. "Yes. More than I ever imagined. Thank you for being here with me." They exchanged warm smiles as he wiped his tears and placed his mask back on.

He waved one last time to the little girl across the yard and was returned with the favor. They went back to the car and started their journey home. It was a serene car ride but their hearts were contented, especially for Alan. It was not long when they turned the corner and they arrived at his house.

"Guys, thank you again for today. I might have just experienced one of the most humble moments in my life and I'm glad to share that with you." Alan gave them a brief hug with their mask on as it was the safest option they had. "No worries, stepdad." Ly winked at the end and Russ showed a smile through his eyes. Alan was touched and blushed behind his mask.

"I like the sound of that. Take care, guys. I love you both." Butterflies churned in his tummy as he uttered the words. The whole situation became too real now. "We love you too, Alan," Ly replied to him. "See you at the weekend." Russ followed and they went on their way. Alan went inside with a teddy bear's permission and a proposal of a lifetime.

Are we still okay? Because this love fest is just starting. Thank you again for your support of this story. The last two chapters are yet to unfold. Stay safe and well!

All my love,

Elle Rose Maltz