Joe laced his fingers between mine and placed a gentle kiss atop my head. The three of us walked down the sidewalk toward the Thai restaurant Joe had first taken me to my first week back in the city. Sometimes I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. If someone told me a year ago that I’d end up marrying my high school crush and raising a little girl with him, I would have laughed. But right now, in the heat of the afternoon sun, I was so happy I could hardly believe my luck.
Onlookers would never be able to tell that we were a mishmash of a family. It didn’t matter that Hayley wasn’t Joe’s because to him, it wasn’t an issue. He loved Hayley like his own, adored her and fussed over her like any good father would. Anybody who argued that a traditional family was necessary for happiness clearly never met us. Sometimes families could come together in the most unlikely ways. We didn’t fit into a mold, we didn’t live up to my parents’ expectations, and that was totally and completely fine. What mattered was that there was an abundance of love here. That alone was all we ever needed.
And I’d never been happier.