I wasn't comfortable going directly against my family's wishes. Not because at 36 I felt I needed their approval, but because my vision for my life includes a very close and loving relationship with my family and my husband's family, no matter what. Knowing that marrying Al would create tension, I was deeply burdened and torn about going through with the wedding. I cried, and prayed, and spoke with my ministers and other trusted people in my life, seeking guidance and peace.
In late November, Al found a good position at a reputable firm, and part of the stress we'd felt about our future dissolved, to a degree. Conditions at my firm, with new management taking over Al's role and resenting my very presence, became nearly hostile. I needed to leave. But with our marriage pending and Al not yet settled into his new position, I just had to stay where I was and try to make the best of a really awkward situation. Once we married and consolidated our lives, we'd evaluate what to do about my career.
Gradually, we talked through all of the issues facing us and made the decision to go forward with our marriage, and to deal with the fallout from that together, as husband and wife. We planned a December wedding, on the 13th. The ceremony would be just the two of us with our pastor, in the tiny, quaint historic chapel of our church. We chose to be alone to speak our vows. Having both gone through divorces, we wanted the focus of the actual ceremony to be on what we promised one another, and not on the pageantry of a public wedding.
A few days before the big event, I contracted a miserable case of the flu. Sicker than could remember having been in my life, I lay in bed feverishly opining that I'd never be healthy and presentable in time for the wedding. The morning of the 13th, I awoke feeling worse than ever. Unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time without growing very dizzy, I slowly worked on getting myself ready to meet my friend Kim for breakfast and shopping, as we'd arranged to spend this day months in advance. But even that was a struggle. Al arrived to find me sitting on my bedroom floor, coughing and crying.
Al took over. He firmly (and loudly) demanded that I get back into bed, and handed me the phone to call Kim and explain that I needed to rest before the party and would unfortunately not be able to see her that day. He sternly pointed out that I was "not Superwoman!!" was horribly sick, and that if we were going to get married this afternoon (which he very much wanted to do), I was going to have to rest until the last possible minute so I could make it to the church and then to the party. Well, something in the way he handled the situation - something in how he handled ME, just undid the last little buckle inside my soul. Once again, he'd done the perfect thing.
I awoke somewhat rejuvenated in time to get dressed and ready for the wedding, and we drove to the church together through a steady cold drizzle, Al looking gorgeous in his black suit, and me looking somewhat disheveled with my ivory dress wrapped under a rumpled black raincoat.
At the church, we met our pastor, the very sweet, gentle, quiet Margaret. In a chill, dimly lit, hushed little chapel, with rain falling and wind howling, we spoke our vows. The atmosphere may sound dismal or ominous, but to us it was absolute perfection. In the midst of all the dreary grayness, we were alone - just us two, cozy and safe, speaking the words that would bond us in warm togetherness forever.
And after that, the party! We arrived at the restaurant before our private room was ready, so, still in our wedding attire, we sat in the bar together and toasted one another with our first cocktails as married people. Amazingly, I was feeling good after my day of rest, and was able to enjoy the whole party, perhaps on an adrenaline high, or maybe just from the pure joy of being my best friend's wife!
I am so very lucky to have been found by Al. I'm blessed to have seen beyond a conventional way of thinking about life and taken a calculated risk on falling in love with him and becoming his partner. I adore him. I admire him. I trust him with everything that I have and everything that I am. He has helped make me the mother, wife and person I want to be in Christ, and has allowed me to do the same for him. He is my husband. My love. My best friend.
And he is truly, truly a gift from God.