Thursday, May 29, 2014

Even After Death: Wedding Day Recollections

AKA: All the Things That Went Wrong... And the One Thing That Was Right

The day was actually kind of a blur.

I had a terrible migraine and no amount of medicine from my mom or well-wishes from my bridesmaids would make it go away. The weather was true to Florida: hot and humid, with the obligatory thunder storm in the afternoon. I waited in the back room of the church, surrounded by bright colors and bubble-lettered proverbs, a hand-held fan pointed at me. Naturally, my hair got wrapped around the blades of the fan and had to be cut only moments before my traverse down the aisle. Someone brought me a tropical drink from the reception punch bowl, which had, in a freak wedding mishap, turned green, instead of the tropical-yellow it was supposed to be.

My wonderful friends cutting my hair before I went down the aisle

Eventually, it was time to go down the aisle — at which point I went down too early, and walked far too quickly to be justified as a "wedding march", to a butchered song by a string quintet I couldn't hear anyway. Apparently, according to my dad, I was hyperventilating, but I have no such recollection.

I do recall, however, that the moment I saw him, my migraine went away.

We stood facing each other, holding hands. We ignored the words spoken to us (a fact that is quite evident as I watch our wedding video — our mouths are moving in constant chatter, not with our minister, but with each other). My stomach growled and my feet hurt as I told him that a distant mutual friend got engaged that morning (an occurrence that I just had to share with him at that moment when we were pledging our lives to each other). My worst fear and greatest delight came true: his vows were "better" than mine, if you can say such a thing. He refused, quite elegantly, to utter the requisite phrase, "till death do us part", not as some do nowadays to avoid an indissoluble situation, but because this lifetime would never be enough for him, a sentiment that adorns the ring that he gave me on that day: even after death.

Even after death. A phrase envisaged by a devoted twenty-year-old and a prayer prayed for over a decade now.

Even after death. A precarious wish surrendered time and again to our Creator. I find myself telling Him that I wouldn't be so afraid of the afterlife if I could face it with him.

But I digress.

The remainder of the day can be recalled, not by the truest of memories, but by piecing together regurgitated facts and recorded moments. Three cakes were cut, a bouquet was tossed, dances were danced and toasts were made. I changed out of my dress in the bathroom of the banquet hall — my grandmother's Oscar de la Renta earrings (my "something borrowed") were permanently borrowed by one of our wedding guests. I have my suspicions as to who that light-fingered guest might be, but I'm not a Mr. Holmes and I have never recovered those pearl earrings. My getaway dress was yellow, and had been tailored within an inch of my breath. Surrounded by our well-wishers with sparkling wands, we raced to our car — my grandfather’s Mercedes Benz that we often joked looked like the Bat Mobile (except that his cars are perpetually white. When my family's also-white cars adjoin with his for dinner, it looks like an achromatic car convention).

And then, we were alone.

We had been alone before, of course, but never like this. Not with the express intention of not being seen by anyone we knew for more than a few hours. I'd like to say that once those doors closed and we were off, I was confident and self-assured, but I wasn't.

He assuaged my fears and insecurities in a way that only he could. And he's been doing the same ever since.

Oftentimes, in the beginning of our marriage, I would ask him: “Do you love me?" And he would say, “Of course. I married you," in a matter-of-fact, how-could-you-even-doubt, kind of way. And maybe it's not enough to remind someone that you married them — so much happens after the wedding. And, to some people, being married and being in love can be mutually exclusive events. But to him, that is irrelevant. There is no alternative for him, or for me.

Our wedding day was not perfect, and our marriage is a reflection of that: imperfectly perfect. Over the course of our thirteen-year relationship, this man has become, and always will be, my best friend. Not in the cliche way that preteen girls proclaim when they have BFF bracelets that are broken or forgotten mere weeks later. Or in the sadly reminiscent way that a parent talks about their college roommate. No, Tyler is my best friend in the sense that I want to do anything and everything with him —  and with him alone — as long as there is breath in my body and life in my heart, and, if our Maker would grant us our request, even after death.