I took a deep breath as finally the fasten seatbelt sign was turned off just as the pilot announced:
“Ladies and gentlemen, the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off you may now move around the cabin. However, we always recommend keeping your seat belt fastened while you’re seated.”
After passing above clouds the private jet that we had rented cruised smoothly taking us to the Windy City. Hillary and I had good memories in Chicago. The city where she was born. When she told me that she would be going to Chicago for another speaking engagement, and invited me to come, I immediately said “Yes”. For me, visiting Chicago was like visiting a good old friend.
Her conference in the Windy City was her 72nd speaking engagement (not including book tours), and it was far from over. Her endurance and strength never ceased to amaze me. She was unstoppable, going from places to places to share what she had learned about her loss in the election. It was her mission to make sure that the nightmare would never happen again in the future. It was important for the future generation—for Aidan’s and Charlotte’s future.
“Just a few days more,” I whispered as I leaned towards her.
“Hmm?” She asked, her eyes never leaving her notes.
"Just a few days more, we'll have your cast removed," I told her.
There were things that had changed, but something about her had never changed. I smiled a little as I took a peek at her speech, then gazed at her face as the soft sunlight touched it.
“Change the ‘vital’ to ‘essential’,” I whispered again near the shell of her ear. I watched as my breath touched the hair near her ear making it move slightly. I suddenly thought: How many times have I told her that I love her hair? I could no longer remember.
She nodded and whispered the sentence to me, “You are essential to democracy.” She said as if she was tasting the words in her mouth, “Yes, that sounds nicer.”
“The stress in the words are not too strong but rather endearing,” I said matter-of-factly smiling down at her, then my eyes fell again on the hair touching her ear, I couldn’t resist it, I ended up brushing it neatly tucking it behind her ear.
Being each other’s support had been one of our foundations in our relationship. It was one of many essential reasons why our marriage prevailed. When my term as President ended, it was my commitment to her that I would be supporting her in her own political journey. I just wished that her dream become the first female President came true.
I touched the cast on her hand slowly rubbing my fingers on the smooth white cement, and I felt a certain tenderness for her. She looked up at me as if distracted by my touching. She gave me a look as if asking what was going on.
I wanted to chuckle at her questioning stare. Maybe because we had grown older that sometimes those kind of tenderness and gestures were surprising and, because of our hectic schedules, becomes a rarity. However, those rare gestures were surprisingly sweet, and I knew she loved surprises and sweet gestures.
“Are you comfortable?” I asked my fingers were still rubbing her cast.
“Yes, honey, what’s wrong?” She asked, her eyes soft.
Over years the color of her eyes had lightened, but the same intensity and passion lurked there. Sometimes, the hue becomes saturated, so vivid, when she spoke about the issues that truly mattered to her. Or if she was infuriated. However, in our bedroom, when we were about to take asleep, the last few moments that we share before we hit the bed, the color of her eyes turned into a cool blue like those of a clear ocean water.
I loved her eyes, just as her hair, her small hands, her body, and of course her heart.
My only regret was that I wished I loved her more fiercely, just as she loved me.
I curled my hand on her casted one and looked meaningfully into her eyes as my mouth curled into a smile.
“Have I told you that I love you?” I whispered more softly that time. I saw the slight blush on her cheek, as she gave a tender smile.
“You did,” she said touching my cheek with her good hand.
Oh, yes, I did tell her just a few days ago that I loved her. I blurted out the word as we were both laughing watching our grandson make funny faces as she tickled his soft round tummy. It just came to me to say the words when I leaned down and dropped a kiss on the back of her head and whispered, “I love you,” against her hair.
“Okay,” I said, but still I leaned and kissed her cheek. I lingered there and said, “I love you still, Darling.”
She giggled. Her eyes crinkled at the side showing the wrinkles that had so many stories to share. Although, we might have gone old already, there were times that when she smile and or laugh, I could still see the younger version of her. Just as how she sat there smiling at me. I could still see her as the younger version of herself.
“I love you too, Billy,” she returned finally leaning her head on my shoulder.
I curled my arm around her shoulder and waited until we arrive in the Windy City.
When we arrived in Chicago after few minutes. Hillary had switched her hat from becoming my tender and strong wife to a politician with a mission. She turned to her team as they told her her schedule. Hillary nodded quietly taking it all in. She allowed her team to give her their updates before she asked questions or told them what to do. I remained seated by her side listening.
Every now and then I would interrupt telling them not to stretch her schedule. I was very firm canceling her supposed meeting at seven o’clock.
She turned to me and said, “We cannot do last minute cancellation.”
I placed my hand on her arm and said, “Your schedule is already full. I’ll speak to them if I have to and tell them to do a ten-morning meeting in our hotel instead.”
“What will I do by seven?” She asked.
“Have a date with me,” I said unblinkingly.
My answer sounded like an uppercut that took her by surprise. She gaped. It was as if she wanted to respond, but my answer caught her off guard that robbed her of words. I felt some of her staff broke a smile, but I kept my face straight. I rubbed my hand on her arm and said, “I want to take my wife—you—for a dinner. You and I on a date.”
“O...okay,” she said breathlessly, the faint blush appeared on her face making her look younger.
Hillary’s loss—although painful—played a significant role for the American people to know the importance of voting, the threat of Russia to our Democracy, and the true colors of each politician. Her loss had empowered women to run for positions, it allowed the Democrats to take back the States that had been occupied by Republicans, and people had seen Hillary's genuine love for our country.
Her loss was like looking at a kaleidoscope puzzling, baffling but eventually the picture made sense.
Most importantly, people had appreciated her more. Thunderous claps, warm embraces, hopeful tears always surrounded us—her most especially. That was important for me. I want her to be loved and engraved to each American heart.
The moment that we arrived in Chicago, she was immediately occupied and I only watch from the distance. In fact, as she attended her events, I was on the streets of Illinois greeting people, talking to them, taking pictures with them, and having a grand time. I also had the time to visit some old friends.
When it was time for me to pick her up, I had the chance to watch her from backstage. I smiled as I looked at my girl giving an encouraging speech, warning them about the threat to our democracy, and of course, some of her thoughts about Donald Trump.
All ears and eyes were on her, while it was my heart that was drawn on her. I was so proud.
When it was her time to say goodbye, she turned to where I stood, and a sudden elation came into me. I was again very happy to have her back.
“You are wonderful. I am so proud of you.” I said as I dropped a kiss on her forehead. My hand crept on the small of her back as some of her team surrounded us. I gave them a look. It was a look that they already knew. The time for her work had ended. She was mine.
When we arrived at our hotel. I told her to take a nap and that I would be waking her up after a few minutes so she could prepare for our dinner.
While she slept, I took my time to buy some flowers and I placed in the vase on her bedside table. She loved hydrangeas. I tried as much as I could to have it around our bedroom because it makes her happy.
I woke her up few minutes before six. I leaned and kissed her forehead. She fluttered her eyes and smiled.
“What time is it?” She asked softly.
“Ten minutes before six. Ready to prepare?”
She nodded, then she gasped when she saw the flowers. She turned to me with a smile and rewarded me with a quick kiss.
In our lifetime, we had a fair share of accidents. Me injuring my knee, Hillary breaking her arm, and a whole lot more. Having a cast was so uncomfortable because of the limitation of moving around.
Honestly, we could have hired a nurse to look after her, but I didn’t want to, I told them that I would be the one to take care of her. She took care of me when I was in the same position. I loved to do the same.
As we aged, our bodies had become wrinkly. We had seen the changes in our body as years go by. Our once firm skin loosened. It didn't bother me a bit when we make love. She was conscious of it before. She tried to hide her body by trying to dim the lights or asking for the lights to be turned off. By my continued persistence in telling her that I loved her, she had relaxed. No more coaxing or reassuring and no more dimmed or off lights.
I helped her took off her clothes and was careful in helping her taking a shower. We didn’t want to get the water in her cast. I soaped her body and soaped mine, washed her hair and washed mine. I loved and enjoyed taking care of her. People tend to judge her as unfeeling, but that was the politician that they were seeing. She was completely different when it was just us. I was so lucky to be the only person (besides Chelsea) who knew that sometimes she could be so soft too, that in front of her strong facade lies a woman who was vulnerable too. Hillary was every bit dependent on me, just as I was very dependent on her.
Preparing for our date took us longer than expected. It was my fault that the showering had taken longer. It was fun to flirt with her. It was always a combination of laughing, kissing, and a whole lot of touching. I made sure she laugh just as she makes me laugh. Just between you and me, the skin beside her jugular vein, was her weak spot. In the middle of our frolicking around, I lingered there too long that we had to cover the hickey with her scarf.
She wore a pink coat over her moss green top and black slacks. I wore my suit and my favorite tie that she had given me, then I wore my sports jacket and coat.
We roamed the city of Illinois holding hands with people cheering her name, calling her attention, glorifying her just as she deserved. We were so happy. The happiness did not only stem from the newfound appreciation that we were getting. It was because we were in love. The world may be in chaos but to be in love and old together was an exaltation. We were in harmony and at peace with the world in spite of the turmoil.
Our RSVP at Riva’s was great. The food was great. Even the people. We had Chardonnay and Merlot. We talked about our grandchildren. About our friends. Her speech. How my day was while she was in the event. We talked about our dogs, about our future plans together.
I wish I could tell you how beautiful she was, as she recounted what happened in her speaking engagement. Her eyes glowed. Her smile wide. I had to stifle the urge to kiss her in public for fear of the spectacle.
For a while, the selfish part of me was grateful for the loss. She was mine that night unoccupied by the problems of our country and by the other international problems. She could smile freely. She could laugh at her heart’s content.
We visited some of the places that were important to our relationship when we were younger. However, we couldn't stay long because of how cold the night was and because we kept on getting disturbed by her fans. She suggested for us to go back to our hotel and continue our date there. She promised not to listen or turned the TV or her cellphone, and so we extended our date there.
We played some good Frank Sinatra’s hits while slow dancing in our room. We both loved to dance together like before. We had some more wine and more laughing. While I looked down at her, she suddenly was the young Hillary Rodham to me again. The curly haired, with thick glasses lady that I had fallen in love with, and I was again the young man that she loved. For a while, I imagine us being young again.
My imagination got distracted as she pressed her face against my chest and she yawned.
“Sleepy?” I asked, tipping my chin down to look at her.
She smiled weakly and nodded. I kissed the crown of her head and helped her to bed. I again took care of her so we could take a warm shower before we hit the bed. I kneeled as she sat on the edge of the bed and I gently pulled off her pants. We laughed as we both struggled taking it off. She was sometimes silly, to be honest. Silly, cute, and lovely.
After our shower, I reclined on the bed to read, while she read her activities for the next day. A little later, I turned to her and found her already asleep.
I smiled as I watch how sleep relaxed her face, and how our date eased her. It was not surprising that after reading her notes, sleep had overtaken her. She was tired, but being the last one to take a sleep gave me the chance to take care of her again.
I turned to my clock and saw that it was midnight. It was time for me to sleep as well. I went to the nearby huge window and closed the curtains ensuring that she wouldn't wake up by the morning light. I turned off the lights in our room and eventually turned off the light on her bedside table and took the notes that she left on her chest. I smiled. She used to complain that she was always turning the lamp off on my side of the table, but that time it was my turn to turn off hers.
I went to my bed and scooted near her. I gently curled my arm under her head so I could pull her into my arms and sleep on my chest, just like the good old times.
She murmured something incoherent but I cooed, “Sleep now, baby girl.”
I heard a short sleepy laugh and saw a smile appeared on her face. She still hated that term of endearment, but I knew that deep inside she really liked it. I dropped a kiss on her forehead and closed my eyes and later sleep had engulfed me too.
Well, it was certainly a good night in Windy City for us.