Something Special

When Rachel Hudson was the woman of this house she would often dictate the mood of a day.

She would wake up on a random Wednesday in March and mischievously turn off all the alarms in the house. When we awoke in a panic, late for school and work, respectively, hastily putting on clothes and wondering aloud why she hadn't woken us, she would smile knowingly and simply reply,

"We're all taking the day off."

Lumbering through the house on a gloomy Sunday in the fall, curling into the couch, one blanket surrounding her torso, another at her feet and sighing dramatically; it suddenly seemed as if her overcast disposition had put a spell on the rest of us. Until eventually, we were all there, gazing out the window dejectedly, cuddled in old quilts and wondering if it would ever stop raining.

Rachel Hudson could make our moods, and change our moods. Of course, that was when she was still here.

….

I can still remember the first time I realized my parents were different. I had always known them to be happy, and even when I was still their only child, 4 or 5 years old, I can remember knowing that they were in love in a way that was different then the way I adored daddy; the way I loved mommy.

I knew this love, but I had always assumed it was the way all people loved. The way they loved in the movies I watched, and the musicals mom took me to see. It was the way my parents loved each other, and so I believed this was the way all people loved each other; the way all parents loved each other.

When I was eight years old, at my very first sleepover, I had discovered this was simply not the case. It was the middle of the night and I was anxious being away from home, uncomfortable on the floor and cold in my sleeping bag. I remember so vividly hearing the harsh whispers coming from another room.

"No, Paul! No! Don't you dare! Don't you fucking dare!"

"Liz-"

"Don't touch me! Don't Touch me, you son of a bitch!"

"Please-"

"You listen to me; I don't ever want to see you again. You'll never see them again, you hear me? Get out! Get the fuck out! I hate you! Do you hear me, Paul? I hate you!"

I had never before heard anyone speak that way. It didn't make any sense to me at the time, how Katie's parents could be so angry with each other. To say words I knew were bad. To make each other cry.

I can recognize it clearly now, Katie's mother, Elizabeth had spoke with such detestation, with such hate and with so much darkness it had made my whole body go cold.

I had returned home the next day feeling so overwhelmed with sadness; too young to recognize why or even to understand what exactly this emotion was.

I entered the house quietly, not calling out my arrival or rushing to see them like usual. I found them in the kitchen, he was washing the dishes and she was drying. They sang softly, a song I didn't recognize, hips swaying identically in a coordination that was so clearly practiced. She laughed loudly and swatted him with a dish towel when he tried, unsuccessfully, to hit a high note.

"Good try, baby." She teased over her shoulder as she struggled to reach up high to put away a plate she had just dried

He laughed at her and raised his eyebrows. He quickly wiped his hands, took the plate from her grasp and easily placed it on the highest shelf

"You too." He said with a wry smirk

She shook her head at him, but the brightness in her eyes gave her away. Standing there in her frilly apron, hair piled on top of her head, hands on her hips, she looked at him with adoration that defied convention.

How could Katie's parents hate each other so much, when my parents were so very in love?

That is when I knew that this kind of existence, the immense joy in such domesticity, the delight in something as everyday as washing dishes together, the look of pure reverence. It was so abnormal.

That was the first time I realized my parents were different.

Not that they never fought. They were human, vulnerable and both had tempers. Mom had no problem letting go of hers, and she taught dad to release his anger instead of keeping it bottled up: she told him, if nothing else, to scream at her at the top of his lungs until he felt better. It was something that, as a child, I always found immensely amusing, as I often did whenever mom would rope dad into her theatrics.×

And even though they fought, their fighting never turned them against each other. It always ended with them embracing and kissing; smiling and laughing against each other's lips.×

They were like children sometimes; fighting recklessly, only to forget what had them so distressed in the first place.

"We need you to pick up your brother from soccer practice."

"Why? You guys going somewhere?"

"Your mother needs me to pick out dish towels with her. Apparently… she can't do that by herself." He said sarcastically, as though his wife wasn't standing right next to them

"Finn, I am perfectly capable of picking out dish towels by myself. I just don't want to pick something too pink or too fluffy like last time!" She countered mockingly

"Buy whatever you want, just don't punish me over towels!"

"Maybe the punishment is because you forgot my fathers' birthday!" she shrieked

"I didn't forget! I made… a choice!" He tried, which made her gasp loudly

"That is the most insensitive thing I have ever heard!"

"Fine…let's just get this over with. Give me the keys, I'm driving." He balked at her when she didn't move "Rachel, it is 5 o'clock and you are a lunatic at rush hour, I don't need to hear you fight with another cab driver about the proper way to drive in New York City."

"Oh it is not the cabs that make me crazy, Finn Hudson! It's you!"

Oh don't turn there! Stop, stop, stop! You're gonna miss the light! Speed up. Slow down!

She mocked in a deep voice.

"Real mature, Rachel! You know what? I'm glad I forgot your dad's birthday and when May 14th rolls around I just might forget someone else's!"

She started laughing at that, loudly, and soon she is cackling

"Oh you think that's funny? You think it's funny I'll forget your birthday?"

"That's your birthday!" she laughs, smiling coyly and approaching him slowly

"And I know just what I'm going to get you, Finn Hudson." She whispers, her expression softening, and her arms wrapping around his waist

"What's that? What are you gonna get me? Come on, what?" he nudges with a wide grin, tickling her to try to get her to confess

"No, no it's a surprise!" she giggles, squirming to get away from him

"Come on, Rach! Tell me!" he pushes, merciless

"Fine! Fine! I'm gonna get youuu…Dish towels!"

He laughs wholeheartedly and kisses her sweetly, even if she hasn't stopped smiling that toothy smile yet.

"Do you want to drive?" she asks quietly, still in his arms

"No, you can drive. Let's just be careful please? Driving in the city is so dangerous."

"Okay, babe." She promised as she took his hand and left the house.

I asked my father about it once, astonished by this phenomenon; the ability to let cruel things escape their lips only to have them be replaced with kisses.

"Love would be pretty dull if we agreed on everything all the time." He had said simply ×

And that was that.

I've never spoken of this before, since I know dad loved us and so did mom. But there was always this "something" between them, this special rapport we could never touch. Something precious. Something beyond words. ×

Not that we suffered from it. We were never left out or ignored. They never deprived us of anything, always gave us love and support in anything we tried or wanted. Still there was this strong element in their relationship which kept them a unit of two during all those years when the family was a unit of four and eventually five. ×

From time to time I would overhear conversations I shouldn't, and accidentally walk in during private moments, as all children do. But as I got older I felt more than guilt at accidentally catching them whispering by the fire place or crying together in bed. I felt as though I was an intruder, discovering a moment of such vulnerability or being privy to emotions they only shared with each other.

Often in these moments my parents seemed like strangers to me. Wearing expressions and using voices I didn't recognize. The tender voice my father used to soothe my mother wasn't the same as when he comforted me during a thunderstorm. The words my mother used to convince my father of his capability weren't the same as when she told Chris he was good enough to go out for soccer.

Maybe it doesn't make sense, but it's true. I can't explain it. I only hope all marriages can know this kind of distinct closeness.

It's funny. I've talked to lots of people and almost all of them have trouble visualizing, or even conceiving their parents making love. I suppose that feeling is universal, but it was never any trouble considering mom and dad in this way. Often we'd see them standing together- in the kitchen, the family room, their bedroom, anywhere really- holding each other closely like a pair of young lovers. And always when they sat together, mom would lean against dad, he'd put his arm around her and her head would lie on his shoulder. They made such a sweet couple. It was easy to think of them making love, it seemed completely right. ×

That's not to say I didn't feel the sting of juvenile embarrassment at my parents making out like teenagers at my volleyball games. Or cringe at my friends calling my dad hot. It's not that I enjoy the thought of my parents making love. It just makes all the sense in the world that two people so utterly connected in every way would extend this closeness intimately. Even if they are my parents.

…..

In many ways, they needed one another to balance themselves out. My mother could be so steadfastly driven, and my father could so easily let his mellow nature give way to apathy, but they both prevented their weaknesses from blinding them.

In his eulogy, Zach had said mom was high strung in the best possible way and that dad was always dependably playful. And nothing could be closer to the truth.

I distinctly remember being 14 and sitting on a stool beside the kitchen counter while mom was frosting cupcakes for Christopher's class. I was distracting her with the quiz in whatever magazine I was reading,

"Ok, last question, I swear!"

"Alright, alright, go." She allowed, licking some pink icing off her pinky

"Describe your perfect guy in one word."

She looked pensive for a moment, her pinky still in her mouth. "Finn." She said simply

"Mom!"

"What? It's true!"

"Mom, we're not talking about dad. We're talking about your perfect guy, like if you could have anyone. Like any celebrity, anyone!" I had blabbed, waving the magazine around wildly
"Hey." She scolded lightly, pointing a frosting covered spoon at me "Your dad is my perfect guy!"

"I'm serious!" she cried at my groaning

"Emma, your father is the best person I know. He is sweet and wonderful and caring. He is an amazing father, he would do anything for you, you know. And for me. You know one time he bought a star for me?"

She always got like a love struck school girl when they talked about her dad.

"You should be so lucky to find your own Finn Hudson!"

"Who's gonna find a Finn Hudson?" He interrupted, entering the kitchen

"Oh did I miss the quiz?" he started, eyeing the magazine "I've been trying to figure out if my guy is secretly cheating on me for weeks." He deadpanned, sitting on the stool next me

He nudged me with his shoulder and I proceeded to hit him over the head with the magazine.

"I was just telling our daughter how I would describe my perfect guy in one word." She revealed playfully, leaning over the counter

"Oh yeah? And? What douchey celebrity to I have to develop an irrational hatred for?"

"Finn!" "Gross!" we both shrieked at the same time, which always made him laugh

"She said you, dad! God!"

"You did? Oh baby, that's sweet!" he cooed, leaning over the counter to kiss her, covering my eyes with his spare hand as the kiss inevitably escalated.

"Please spare me!" I whined

"Okay. Get out of here, both of you. I have cupcakes to make!" Mom ordered

"Hey wait!" she yelled before we could both leave "Describe your perfect girl in one word." She said slowly, a smile on her lips, her eyes squinting in playful scrutiny

"Oh, honey. You already know the answer to that." He said sweetly, placing his hands on her hips

She looked at him expectantly, and with a childlike glint in his eye he leaned down to her ear and whispered, "Tall."

His smile was huge as he pulled away from her, laughing at her indignant sputtering.

He grabbed her hand and pulled it up to his mouth, sucking on one of her frosting covered fingers before bounding out of the kitchen, shouting an 'I love you' behind him.

…..

When you're a kid, it's easy to think that the world stops when you are not there utilizing it. Your teachers sleep in school at night and stores close when you are not there shopping. It is something of a rite of passage when you realize that nothing could be further from the truth.

Part of this is realizing that your parents are real people. It is odd seeing a side of your parents that you don't ever get to see, the sides that get drunk and tell stories with their friends, that kiss without being sensitive to your presence, that are unconcerned with jobs and carpools and grades. It is when you realize that your parents are real people, that you also realize that they had friends and interests and a life before you. That maybe there lives don't stop and start at your will, maybe they are people in ways you've never imagined. And maybe just maybe, their worlds don't completely revolve around you. I never knew this to be truer than when my parents spent time with their friends from high school.

If there is anything about my parents that is a mystery to me it is the importance of glee club. It's not that they never spoke of it or even that I was uninterested when they did; in fact I was always very interested. It is a mystery because whenever they would speak reverently about their days singing and dancing, fighting and dreaming, I always felt so very on the outside of it all. Like laughing politely at an inside joke that you just don't get.

And even though they had told me of its importance; how it was what first brought them together, You're the One That I Want providing the back drop for their first clumsy encounter.

And of unfaithful kisses they tried so very hard to regret. How my father learned he had something to offer the world. How my mother learned that some things were more important than being in the spotlight. How the kids in glee club were her first and only friends. How Mr. Schuester was the first man whoever felt like a father to him.

Still, it always felt like an enigma to me. They had said it all, many times over, but it was the way they would all look at each other, the way they always found a way to all come together, even if it had been 10 years since they had last done so. The way they all cherished their stories; no matter how many times Puck told the story of Burt and Carole's wedding, it always ended with Uncle Kurt crying and glancing at my father gratefully. No matter how many times they chronicled the very first year of New Directions, everyone always became solemn at the mention of Beth. It was as though their stories were too important to ever forget, too vital to even mix-up a date or forget the name of some random football player tossing a slushee their way. They all held those memories so very close to their hearts, no matter how much time went by.

Even as they got married, some to each other, like my parents and the Changs, some to outsiders like Quinn, and when they got divorced like Brittany (twice). When they had children, Mercedes had 2, Sam had 3. When they were promoted like Santana or fired like Puck. They always found a way to keep these memories sacred. Even though they all had new lives, hectic and loud and busy, filled with new people and new places, children and passion and tragedy and success, they never let anything replace the memory of the time they had inexplicably found acceptance in one another.

I just can't believe that anyone who wasn't a part of it could ever even hope to understand something that special.

…..

My mother always used to say that she was awed by the connections she had formed throughout her life.

"It would have been so easy to stay the same forever, Em." she would tell me constantly "It is so easy to stay the same forever. Until something collides into your life and makes you wonder how you ever survived before, when you were all alone."

"Something? Or someone?"

"Mmm." she responded modestly, closing her eyes as a small smile played on her lips and she stretched her arms and legs "Either." She said, but her eyes had immediately found his before I even realized he was in the room.

Dad meant so much to her, and she meant so much to him.

They had a wonderful relationship; they were so completely devoted to each other. Except for us children, they seemed to have no need for anyone but each other.

Not that they didn't see people. People were always very fond of my father; gentle, friendly and affable to anyone willing to give him their time. They had many friends; people liked them and wanted to see them; old friends from Ohio and new ones they had made along the way. They threw parties in the summers and went to charity events; they had poker games and reading clubs and PTA and bowling. But togetherness meant more to them than anything.

…..

It's fitting that they left this world together. I don't know if either could have really survived without the other.

I don't know that I could have watched either of them try.

It's impossible for me to talk about him without talking about her as well. They go together. I just can't visualize one without the other.

…..

It was no secret to anyone how emotional my mother could be. She had a temper and she was notoriously impulsive when it came to making decisions while vulnerable,
"Yes I really did kiss Noah, I will regret it until the day I die."
"I just wanted your uncle Kurt to win the election! It's not my fault the idiots at McKinley couldn't see what was right in front of them!
"I shouldn't have thrown your sneakers off the balcony, Finn. But I didn't realize you were with Christopher at the library, I thought you were at the bar with Mike."
But when I saw my mother the most emotional I had ever seen her, she lost the ability to be impulsive, or to do anything at all.
It was a weekday, I think I was just about 10, which would mean Chris was 6 and mom was pregnant with Zach. She had taken a leave from Broadway when she found out she was pregnant. She was glowing under the ease of domesticity, finding immense enjoyment in the ordinary, the blissful simplicity of being able to care for her family after being busy for so long. Dad was working at a private school in Brooklyn at the time; he had just started coaching the basketball team. Now that mom was home, he was finally able to work a little later. He was due to arrive home at 5 and it is 5:30 when mom starts to freak out. She starts out logical, maybe practice ran late, maybe there's traffic, but as the minutes progress and he still has yet to walk through the door, her paranoia gradually becomes more extreme. It was like watching water filling up a bath tub, slowly accumulating until it finally over flows.

By 6:00 she is calling his cell phone without taking breaks in between. Until, finally, I see my mother fall apart when she turns on the evening news. There is a traffic report for the George Washington Bridge, the same bridge dad takes to come home. The news reports that a car overturned and caught fire, a male driver, a silver Toyota. The same car dad drives.

I can actually see all the blood drain from her face as she repeatedly opens and closes her mouth with no sounds coming out. She starts to move in quick stunted advances, she goes in one direction and stops, she reaches for the remote and changes her mind, she brings the phone up to her ear but hasn't dialed a number, she starts making small manic sounds that sound like stuttering.
"Mom!" Christopher yells from the kitchen, unaware
The incoherent stuttering only getting louder and more frantic and she looks at me momentarily with such staggering panic that I remember cowering away from her slightly. She must have seen my fear reflecting her own, instantaneously clutching a hand over her mouth. She only made it as far as the kitchen sink before emptying the contents of her stomach.

Her breathing is shallow as she leans over the sink, oblivious to our stunned expressions.
She finally stands up straight and is suddenly staring purposely at the floor. Confused, I follow her gaze to a pair of my dad's shoes sitting next to the counter.
For an insane moment I think she is going to carry on about him leaving his shoes where she specifically asked him not to, but instead, her face crumbles and she begins breathing in rapid disjointed breaths that sound like sobs but have no tears to accompany them.
"I - I - I " she pants, as though she's trying to say something. She is motioning wildly with her hands and all at once, I realize that she can't breathe.
I am frozen in fear and I don't know what to do. I am trying my hardest not to cry, remembering what dad always says about mom's hysterics, "Don't add fuel to the fire." But I can't help it.
Chris is calling to her over and over again, but she can't seem to do anything to catch her breath or erase the wild look of despair from her eyes.
The voice in my head keeps yelling 'shut up!' and I am about to vocalize this to Chris when suddenly, my father walks in with startling normalcy.

"Sorry I'm late, there was an accident on-"he stops when he see's our faces and his eyes go wide, "What happened?"

"Finn." And it sounded as if it had been an exhalation, as if her breath had been replaced by his name.

She looked deranged for a moment; her eyes were unfocused like she was uncertain with whether or not she was honestly seeing him. It was a perfect instant of frozen emotion: there was love, sadness, a fierce tenderness and, most disconcertingly, anger.

"What are you- what? Where did you? Why- I don't- I" she stammered, shaking her head hastily. Her voice and breath still miles behind her thoughts.

She looks at him desperately, as though it is intolerable to be so far apart.

She lunged at him with as much force as her tiny body could muster, clutching to him so tightly, I saw him wince in response.

"Rachel-" he attempted, confused. He looked to us for some kind of indication of what was happening and knitted his brows at what have must've been horrified expressions on both his childrens' faces.

"Finn." She just kept whispering over and over again, her voice muffled by how tightly she was pressed against him

His arms were pinned at his side, the strength of her adrenaline keeping him from moving at all. He kept trying to speak to her, but she could only whisper his name.

She finally looked up at him and her face is overcome with anger

"Why didn't you answer your phone?" she screams, gripping his hands tightly in her own.

"I- it died." He says sheepishly, pulling his phone out of his pocket to prove his point with the black screen.

"It died." She repeats, letting a humorless laugh escape her throat.

"Do you know what it's like to imagine- to- to" and she is gesturing wildly again, tears finally pouring from her eyes.

"Do you know what it was like- do you know- d- … Finn." She finally whispered again, her voice thick with vanquished tears.

She collapses into his arms again and there is nothing left to say.

It is later, after he has apologized to us all profusely, and mom has finally taken a complete breath, that I sneak out of bed and sit unnoticed in the hallway, watching them on the couch together.

"I thought you were dead." She admits, quietly

"I'm sorry."

She took in a steadying breath, no doubt trying not to cry. And she closes her eyes as she starts reciting softly,

Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you'll have gone so far

I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,

Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

She's crying again when she opens her eyes, looking towards the fireplace thoughtfully.

"What's that?" he asks

"Pablo Neruda." She says and I can barely hear her "It's a poem."

"It's nice."

"Promise me-"she started suddenly, turning in his arms so they were face to face. But she didn't go on. She looked at him with disbelief in her eyes, her head shaking slightly.

What could she possibly ask him to promise her? She wanted him to swear not to die, of course she knew that he could never guarantee that and the question was too terrifying to even pose.

Sensing her trepidation he joined their hands.

"I'm right here, Rach. I'm not going anywhere."

She nodded weakly and opened his clasped hand to trace her fingers over his palms, something she did often.

"Look at those life lines, baby." He said, the slightest tone of teasing evident underneath the seriousness of the day "Look how long, don't worry, I'm gonna be around for a long time."

….

It's not until they are both gone that I become preoccupied with their story.

At first I was plagued with all thoughts of a future never realized. They had had plenty of time together, their children long since grown, her Broadway career had come to a natural end years and years before, and he had retired from teaching not long after that, but I couldn't shake the feeling that all their plans had been destroyed.

The places they had planned to visit, the projects they grew excited about; to write a play together, to buy a piece of land where he could build her a home from scratch, to finally travel to all the places they had always spoken about, but never had the time to see. To be together, enjoying life and each others' company. ×

But months later I am reminded, in a roundabout way, of them. It was just a layover in Ohio, I am waiting to board the plane and I can't seem remember the last time I was here with them. Maybe 15 years ago, probably even more. It is when I find myself, for the briefest of moments, where it all began, that I become distracted from their future-lost, by the mysteries of their past. Of a life I never knew; the story of two lovers who just happen to be my parents.

All the times I had brushed off their stories, claiming to have already heard them a million times over. I wish so much to have those moments back. I am so desperate to hold onto them in any way I can, I am searching for stories wherever I can find them.

I call Quinn a week after my layover in Ohio. My parents had stayed in touch with her over the years to some extent, she lives in Conneticut now. She has a small family, her husband, a quiet man who is very devoted to her and a son who graduated from Yale.

The last time I saw her was at their funeral.

We exchange pleasantries, I insist that I am doing well and so are Christopher and Zach. I ask about her husband, Greg and her son Nick. And it isn't long before she asks why I'm calling.

"I've just been so…curious I guess. I've just found myself thinking of them all the time and it's been months and months now. I feel like, I don't know. I feel like I need some way to hold on, and I don't know how."

The line is quiet on the other end.

"I'm not even really sure why I called, what I'm even looking for, I know that you didn't even talk to them much-"

"Finn and I dated in High School, did he ever tell you that?" she finally interrupts

"Yeah, um he did. I don't really know much though."

I can hear her swallow thickly on the other end and it is my first inclination that my parents mean more to Quinn Fabray (now Clarke) then any of them had ever let on.

"We dated for a lot longer than we should have. I think. We were just so young and immature, and I- well I was just… cruel, more often than not when it came to your father… and your mother. I thought I loved Finn, but after him and Rachel finally…I mean even when they first met...there was something that I… well I don't think I ever understood it. Let's just say that the time with me didn't even come close."

I am aware of my loud shallow breaths in the speaker, but I can't seem to find the words to respond to Quinn's quiet and clumsy confession.

"I can't pretend to understand what they had together, but what I do know is that I have never seen anyone, anyone, look at each other the way they did. It was like they were defenseless at the sight of one another. It would steal the breath from my lungs, Emma. Even then, even in high school, they just knew each other."

"It was something special, I know that. And I still- it sounds crazy, I mean it is crazy. It was so many years ago and I'm married and they're- well…they're gone. But sometimes when I look back at that time I still feel… I think it's shame. I still feel shame for trying to come between something that was so obviously meant to be."

Quinn sounds as though she could go on, but this is not why I called her. I don't want her to feel guilt or sadness, this was not my intention.

"It's alright Quinn. Please say hello to Nick for me, and Greg too. I'll speak to you soon."

It is an indication of the effect my parents had on the people around them that Quinn could still feel guilty about something that had happened over forty years ago. It was laughable, really, since she hadn't made any lasting impact on their relationship. The time either of my parents spent with Quinn Fabray was no more than a blink against their years together, including the childish days when they had fooled themselves into thinking that they could belong to anyone but each other.

…..

It is in this house that we once all shared, where all the concrete evidence of their love lies.

I can call Quinn and she can tell me of the looks that passed between them.

I can ask Zach to tell me stories of them missing me while I was away at college.

If I asked, Puck would come over and regale with stories of how enamored my father always was with my mother.

My Uncle Kurt can still complain about all the times he caught them "indisposed", even now, when they are long gone.

But here in my childhood home is where I can feel them in a tangible way. This is the closest I will ever be to them again.

Sometimes at night, when the memories make sleep impossible, I wander through this old house and imagine I'll turn the corner and they'll be wrapped in each other on the couch, eyes thick with sleep but refusing to go to bed. I'll be washing dishes and feel so strongly her presence, singing as she makes sandwiches. I'll turn the porch light on just to see the driveway, hoping to catch a glimpse of him washing his car, spraying her with the hose when she won't stop criticizing his technique.

Most of the time, just being in this house helps me to recall things I never can anywhere else.

I lie in my childhood bed and will memories to appear.

I see my father, always so warm, so very kind, promising not to tell Mommy I was the one who broke Grandpa's old lamp in the hallway.

I see them both, sitting on either side of my bed swearing they'll still love me just as much when the new baby comes.

I peer into their closet and I am 7 years old again, hiding in one of his coats, watching the way my mother would spritz perfume into the air and walk through it.

My father always joked that my mother was hoarder,

"They're gonna find us underneath all this junk someday, babe." He would say.

But now, it is hard for me to find the proper words of gratitude I have for my mother's neurotic accumulation of all the mementos that formed the fabric of their relationship.

I sit in their bedroom for hours at a time, running my fingers over anything they have touched; everything that has ever meant anything.

I find my father's wedding vows in a frame, even though they are written on a napkin in his hideous handwriting.

Everything I know about love, I learned from you. I may not be good at many things, but I'm good at loving you, Rachel Berry. And I promise I'll never stop trying to be better at it.

I am unsurprised by my father's typically heartfelt, yet self- deprecating words. I wonder why my mother never hung this up; I wonder why I've never seen this before.

She has a shoebox full of programs from all their glee club performances. How she managed to keep them looking like new, I will never understand.

There are so many pictures. I feel as though I could line them up in chronological order and walk through their lives if I wanted to. I think I may want to.

I find a card, from my father's 50th birthday and I can't stop re-reading it.

My dearest Finn,

The only thing that I am certain of in this life is you. There is nothing I wouldn't do for you. I love you beyond understanding and I will love you in this way until the day I die.

Rachel

She always did have a way with words.

….

People had always accused my mother of feeling too much, herself included. Everything touched her so deeply; she had so much want, and so much fire. Those things usually dull with age, but she had the same untamed concern and hunger until the day she died. And she felt nothing more deeply than her love for my father.

The last time I saw them, they were still just as in love as the day I walked in on them singing and doing dishes.

"Finn!" she bellowed, her voice carrying through the house "Your daughter is here, get out of the bathroom!"

"I'm right here." He replied softly, emerging from the family room

"Oh, I didn't see you. You must be shrinking!" she joked lamely, chuckling to herself

"No, darling. You didn't see me, because you are not wearing your glasses."

She nods in understanding and begins to move her hands around her body, first her chest, then her pockets, searching for them.

"They're on your head, dear." He says gently, "They're always on your head. "

"What would I do without you?" She beams, smiling up at him. Which is what she always says, she always has.

"I have no idea. And by the way," he starts as he circles his arm around her and begins to walk toward the kitchen "No matter how much I shrink, I'll always be taller than you."

She stops in her tracks and scolds him without saying a word, "What? You're practically a midget!" he teases, the undertone of playfulness still present in his voice, even after all these years.

"Finn!" "Dad!" we both shrieked at the same time, which still made him laugh

"But you still love me right?" she asks needlessly

And he places his hands on her hips and draws her closer. The same way he did in the kitchen when I was fourteen and she was covered in pink frosting, the same way he had a million times before.

And he looked at her in that way. The way that told me my parents were different, the way that stole the breath from Quinn Fabray's lungs, in the way that represented a connection that defied rationality.

"Of course I love you."

…..

I don't know that I'll ever be able to put into words, what made my parents so special. They were each wonderful people on their own, my mother's talent is still revered by hungry 20- something's, new to the city with stars in their eyes. She was beautiful and unique and bright in every sense of the word. My father was the kindest man I have ever known. So likable and light hearted, a young soul every day he was alive.

But, together, them together was something to stop and look at. They were different. They knew each other, they saw each other. There was always this something between them, this special connection we could never touch. Something precious. Something beyond words.

Something special.

…..

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Phew! Longest one-shot ever, no? I know it's a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle, but I just wrote as things came to me, I hope you like it! Please let me know if you did!

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This was all inspired by a passage in the book, "What Dreams May Come." By Richard Matheson, which I am currently reading. There are a few lines that are paraphrased from there, most are infused with my own words or changed slightly. Anything I paraphrased, rephrased, or quoted from the book has an x to it.

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Also, the fight about the dish towels is from an episode of Boy Meets World. Again, a lot of it is changed slightly or paraphrased, but the skeleton of it is from that. That also has an x next to it.

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The poem Rachel quotes to Finn when she thinks he got in a car accident is from "Don't Go Far Off" by Pablo Neruda.

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That's it! Again I hope you enjoyed, and please let me know if you did! Thanks!