The sun shone brightly on St. Mary Magdalene’s Church. Green grass and beautiful flowers grew plentifully. The colder months would be closing in soon, but for now, in late August, everything seemed right. The church was packed with people chattering to each other excitedly. Darko would not show it on the outside, but he was eagerly anticipating the events that would commence that day.
Life was still not easy for him, but it was getting progressively better. He finally felt psychologically well. He had great friends and a wonderful fiancé. Football season was just upon them. He was excited to watch the Packers as a true part of the Green Bay community.
He had gotten a job at the Packers’ Pro Shop next to Lambeau Field. The pay was better than at Sports Authority, and the work was much more satisfying. He felt like he truly connected with his coworkers and the customers that came into the store. It was his goal to ascend the ladder in this profession and achieve success through hard work. It was a relief to see that his actions finally had consequences. He had control of his destiny again.
He was almost finished with the book about his experiences that he had been writing. He found it surprisingly easy to write down everything he had gone through. It was therapeutic. And it was good to be able to do it with Cynnie. He had already gotten a deal by a publisher, which was also unexpected. Apparently, his idea was bold and new. There were plans for a book tour the next summer. Darko wanted to travel the country, talking to sex offenders and giving them the hope and faith they needed and which he now possessed. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to try to influence the public’s opinion on them as well.
Now he stood at the altar, watching Cynnie walk down the aisle with Antonio. He gazed at her once she was in front of him.
The ceremony and proceeding Mass were beautiful. Darko focused on the moment. He meant every word he said to his bride. Through all of his hardships, he knew the true meaning of love and exactly how much it was worth. He thought it was something he would never find. Now he had everything he needed to survive.
“We made it,” Darko whispered to his new wife as they exited he church.
Cynnie only smiled in response.
Darko could not stop smiling himself at the reception. He stayed by Cynnie and happily greeted anyone who came near them. Their first dance was wonderful. He was pleased that he got to show off some of his swing moves. He was also happy that there was obviously a saxophone in the music being played. He only wished Elva were there.
His family attended the wedding. He did not really get a chance to talk to them until the reception. When he approached them, his mother was smiling with tears in her eyes, his father standing silently beside her. Curtis and Laura had their three children gathered before them. As Darko gazed at the young ones, he wondered if he would be able to have any of his own. He always thought it would be socially forbidden, but now it seemed like anything was possible.
“That was wonderful, Darko,” Janet said. “We’re proud of you, dear.”
Darko smiled slightly. “Thank you, Mom.”
Darren nodded. “Look after him, Cynnie.”
A small smirk appeared on Cynnie’s face. “I will.”
“This is great!” Curtis exclaimed. “Now we’ll have something to talk about!”
Darko laughed. He had not seen his family since he had traveled to Louisiana. He hoped they would be able to keep in touch from now on. He was yearning for a reconnection.
Darko left them with Cynnie by his side. He smiled when he saw John and Daisy walk up to them. John was now training to take over the family gelato shop, while Ben had become Darko’s coworker at the Packers’ Pro Shop.
“Congratulations, guys,” John said with a smile.
“Thank you, John,” Cynnie said.
“Now we just have to marry off Megan.”
Cynnie laughed. “She’ll probably find someone in college.”
John turned to Darko. “What are you going to do now?”
Darko shrugged. “I never thought I would get this far in life. I suppose I want to help others discover that they can too.”
Cynnie put her arm around him. “And I want to teach others that they have to look past the surface to discover who someone truly is.”
Daisy smiled. “That sounds nice.”
“I’m sure you two will be great at it,” John said.
Darko nodded. The two couples parted. Darko closed his eyes for a second and smiled, just taking in the moment. He had great confidence in the future. It was time to go live.