Sixteen years ago today my husband and I were married in a small church. I got dressed and waited for the ceremony to begin in one of the elementary school classrooms. I asked everyone in the room to leave because I needed time alone. Anyone who knows me well understands that I have a tough time dealing with big emotions. That for some reason, feeling too happy terrifies me and I needed time to process the overwhelming feelings going on inside me.
Someone brought a narrow full length mirror and I stood there looking at the girl in front of me. Tears pricked my eyes. This was me and I was getting my happily ever after and it just didn't seem possible. After so much heartache, after so many years of wondering what love really was, here I was getting married to a man that I loved and loved me in return.
My husband to be and I? We were young and we were broke and how on earth were we going to make it? We had to pay for the wedding ourselves and we were fine with that. I found my wedding dress on the clearance rack for $80. It was torn and dirty, but I loved it and someone loved me enough to fix the dress, resize it and she did all of that as a wedding gift to me.
We found someone to make our cake and she gave us a great deal, only to return the money we paid as a gift in a card.
For food at the wedding reception, we had ham sandwiches and potato chips and the person who catered the meal for us loved me and my husband so much she threw in cheese and grapes for free. And she did nearly everything at cost.
The people who sang at our wedding refused to take money from us for playing because I asked if when I walked up the aisle if they could play The Rose by Bette Midler. That brought tears to her eyes and she promised that would happen and would happen without payment.
When it was time for the wedding, my father came to get me and as I stood outside the chapel doors I kept asking my husband's sister (a bridesmaid) if Dave was there because I was so scared that he would change his mind.
She laughed at me and told me there was no way he'd ever change his mind. "Have you seen how he looks at you?"
Finally, she went up the aisle, my father squeezed my hand and we were next. The moment the door opened, the entire church stood and in a perfect synchronization, the part of the song of The Rose reached the climax and I was greeted by the sweet harmony of: When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long and you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong.
And there he was, down near the alter, smiling, waiting on me was Dave. He loved me and I loved him and we monetarily had nothing, but we were so rich in not only our love, but the love of everyone in that church that my heart swelled.
The moment my father placed my hand in Dave's, the rest of the song played out: Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow, lies a seed that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose.
I write love stories because of my husband. I love you, Dave. Forever. Let's go for 16 more.