Her white hair was brown then, and her eyes, now filmed with silver, sparkled with a life that time and tragedy has not even considered dimming. We have had a great deal of tragedy. With it has come joy as well, however, and it has been that joy that kept us together and in love all these years.
Her name is Kimberly. Kim. Kimmie. All the different things I've called her over the years. But there were other things. Friend. Almost-sister. Pink Ranger. Beloved. Lover. Wife. When we first met, I had no idea that I would one day spend the rest of my life with her. At that time, she was dating someone else, Tommy Oliver. He became one of my best friends, and later on, my leader when I joined the Power Rangers.
She left before I did, however. She went to Florida and blossomed. Getting out of Angel Grove made her grow in ways that I could never imagine when she had left. She fell in love with a young man there, by the name of Jonathan Tappen. He was the one she spoke about when she wrote to Tommy, telling him that they were breaking up.
I will never forget the look in Tommy's eyes when he read that. I was convinced at that moment the man would never love again. Thank goodness I was wrong about that. Thank everything he never harbored any resentment against me when Kim and I began to date. He could have easily cleaned the floor up with me if he'd really wanted to. I saw on a daily basis just how good he was, and I really never wanted to see it up close and personal.
She's moving a little. Just a little. But she's not waking up. Dr. Cranston already said she wouldn't wake up again. Not on Earth, anyway. In the afterlife, maybe. I've thought a lot about what comes after death, we all have. In our former line of work, it was a natural thing to think about. I hope she waits for me there. I lived without her long enough when we were young. I don't want to keep on going much longer without her.
Unlike her, I'm disgustingly healthy. I shifted powers more times than she did, and the different forms of it coursing through me gave me a stronger body than most people. Only Tommy has changed powers more time, and he looks like he isn't a day over forty. Of course, that could be the effect of him being a martial arts instructor even to this day. He can take on young punks a fourth of his age and leave them panting on the floor.
"Dad?" It's our son. Our firstborn son. As I look at him, I remember how I felt the day that he was born. As if I could take on the universe and win, all by myself. "How is she?"
I smile a little. "In no pain. Dr. Cranston made certain of it."
"Good." His name is Tommy. Named after her first love. There is no child named after her first husband, however. Kim and Jonathan married shortly after the events of Murianthus. They'd announced the engagement when Kim won the gold medal for gymnastics at the Pan-Globals. We all went, of course. All the former Rangers, all the active Rangers, everyone who had ever interacted with Kim in any fashion. I didn't recognize him at the time, but even Lord Zedd was there. He was in disguise though. Disguise then, his real face now.
It was two years before we found out what was really going on in what looked to be the happiest marriage on the planet, however. Jonathan wasn't a wife-beater; Kim would've torn him a new orifice, to paraphrase in Billy-speak, in under a minute. Jonathan was lazy. To the core. He refused to work to support them, he refused to do anything but sit on his rump and make Kim go out and work three different jobs so he could suck up the money, along with certain illegal drugs and booze.
We didn't find out until Kim finally dumped him and came back to Angel Grove. That was the first night that we spent together, just the two of us. I met her at the airport. I was the only one she'd told about her return, and I'd made special arrangements to meet her. At that point in time, I wasn't dating anyone. The girl I had been going out with had broken up with me a couple of months earlier. We'd been going out for years, but in the end, things just didn't work out the way we'd both hoped they would.
Kim and I talked for hours that night. Hours and hours, until we literally fell asleep in each other's arms. Nothing physical happened. Not right then, anyway. Once Kim's divorce was finalized, and she had herself put back together in Angel Grove, then things began to change.
By then, the non-Ranger world had really changed. The Red Astro Ranger had destroyed Zordon, by our old mentor's own will, and the power that had swept over the cosmos had healed or destroyed every last being of evil. It was that energy, when it touched Kimberly, that gave her the strength of mind and will to leave her husband and go back to where she belonged. I hesitate to say 'back to me', since at that time I had no feelings other than true friendship for her. But that did set off the chain of events that led to our marriage.
Others are coming in. My friends. Our friends. Our children and grandchildren, the offspring of our friends. So many couples formed from the various teams over the years. Even the Astro Rangers are here; Kim and Cassie grew very close after Zordon's wave. Cassie's granddaughter and our youngest grandson are dating. They look to be as much a solid couple as Kim and I are.
My mind draws me back in time briefly. It is said that the very old live more in the past than they do in the present, and perhaps that is true. The past is wonderful. After that first night, Kim and I began to date. It was amazing. We'd never thought of each other as romantic material, until it began to happen. Time spun by faster and faster, until we were in love before we had a chance to really notice.
It was her twenty-fifth birthday when it happened. It was also Billy and Trini's wedding day. After Zordon's death, Billy had returned to Earth. He didn't speak of what had happened with Cestria, but we all got the impression it was a gentle breakup, with only the smallest amounts of pain on either side. A year after he came back, he and Trini had run into one another at a high school reunion, and almost at once sparks had flown. It had taken less than one more year for them to get married.
We were at the reception together, and I couldn't hold back another moment. I'd asked advice from everyone, and they had all told me to just go ahead and do it. Tommy went so far as to tell me if I didn't ask her to marry me, he was going to inflict severe bodily damage on me.
"Everyone," I had cleared my throat quickly and firmly, my hand wrapped around a box in my pocket. "Everyone, may I please have your attention?" As everyone looked at me, I looked at Kim. "As you all know, Kim and I have been dating for several years now, and I would like to ask her something."
She was staring at me as if I'd lost my mind. I went down on one knee and held the box out to her, lid lifted to display the diamond in it. "Will you marry me, Kimberly Hart?"
If she'd hesitated even a moment, I think my heart would've stopped. Thank goodness, she didn't. She did start crying however, and stammered out something that everyone took for acceptance. It took us another year after that to finally get married.
"For better or for worse." I hold her withered hand gently, and a tear drops onto the ring still there. In all these years, it has never left her hand for even a moment. "In sickness and in health. Until death do us part. And now we're parting."
A hand on my shoulder, and I look up into the eyes of my best friend. We did everything together. We learned karate and kung-fu together, we learned the Rangers' identities together, we joined the Rangers together. She left the team before I did, however. I smile at Aisha Campbell Taylor. She and Zack look fantastic. Not as young as some of the rest of us look, but well enough.
"Are you all right?" she asks quietly. I can't find the words to answer that, and I look back at Kim.
Her eyes are open. Against all medical knowledge and all reason, her eyes are open. They are warm and alive and aware, just as they were the day we first met. She looks at me. "I love you. I've always loved you." she whispers, her voice rising clear and harmonic. "Good-bye, my dearest."
"Not good-bye," I murmur. "Just. . .later. I love you."
Her hand brushes my face one time, then falls. She takes no more breaths.
Slowly I touched the plaque. "See you later, my heart." I trace the words with my fingertips, and a tear falls onto them. I don't wipe it away.