Four years ago, it was raining (like it is this morning), and I awoke at about the same time that I did today. Well, I guess one could say I awoke. I was barely snoozing the night prior because my mind was racing and worrying about minute (and major) details of the upcoming day. I knew the rain was going to make things interesting, and, what's more, it hadn't rained much at all that spring thus far.
I had that tingling going on in my belly that I'd only had a few other times in my life. It was the kind of tingling that happens when you wake up at four in the morning to get up with cousins or friends to go to an amusement park when you're about eleven years old, running on pure adrenaline. I was excited, but I couldn't help but feel a twinge of nervousness.
I wasn't nervous about the choice I was making that day. Not at all. Of all things, I knew that was solid. I was nervous about getting to the ceremony and hoping that I'd planned everything well enough that things would move smoothly and that the guests would be pleased. I was also secretly terrified that a certain ex-boyfriend could show up at the ceremony and pull a move out of "The Graduate."
Luckily, I'm pretty sure that guy never saw that movie.
It turns out that my nervousness was well-founded for the "getting to the ceremony" part. On the corner of Earl and 26 in Lafayette (I was on my way to get my hair done), I hit the brakes for a stop light only to completely lose traction and slide straight through it. At that moment as I saw that red light passing over my car, I remember thinking, "Oh. I get it. I'm actually not going to live to see my wedding."
Luckily for me, I slid into the back corner of a Grand Jeep Cherokee with a mother and two very, very upset kids (well, I'm pretty sure I was the reason they were upset). Nobody else slid into me, and nobody else slid into her either—thank God.
There I was: in the middle of a busy intersection wearing something completely ridiculous (I had on a small camisole with capri sweats and my wedding shoes—I had them on so I wouldn't forget them). My veil was hanging in the back of my car. I wasn't really expecting to be seen by the public yet.
After much emotional, bawling trauma (my registration had slipped back behind the flooring of my car from my glove box, and I never found it), my friend, Bethany, came to pick me up and drive me to my hair appointment. Of all the people in the world, I think she was probably the best person for that job (and the fact that she was there and able to take care of me was a blessing from God—I'm convinced of it). I was a sobbing mess, and she helped me to avoid the subject at all costs (because, even though I knew it'd be funny one day, every time the subject came up, I was a blubbering, ridiculous puddle).
I remember how other wedding parties (yes—other people were getting married that day) were looking at me while I was getting my hair and makeup done. They all had this face that said, "Oh, honey. If you don't want to get married, don't do it."
How could they have even had a clue that I had just walked out of a near-death situation? (My car was totaled, by the way.) I wasn't about to go explaining it to them. It just would've meant more tears and smeared makeup.
Bethany waited with me through my appointment, and she took me over to the church (she's seriously sent from above). I walked in the door, spotted a couple of my bridesmaids at the bottom of the steps, and I promptly slipped on the first stair and slid down four or five more due to my wet shoes (and the steps were concrete with thin, little strips for gripping that I apparently missed just enough). I banged up my knee really well, and I scraped up the skin on my arm trying to stop myself from falling further (I grabbed the rail). There was more crying after that, too.
I was such a freaking mess once I got to the basement dressing room of the church, I just tried to keep quiet or only talk about things that had nothing to do with wrecks of any sort. I had missed photos prior to the ceremony (we had planned to take several so that the space between the ceremony and reception would be shorter). I had missed chit-chatting and goofing off with my bridesmaids.
My sister, Julie, was bawling, too, but she had her own reasons. Her husband was stuck at the hotel with serious food poisoning, she was pregnant (that alone could do it, honestly), and she had two toddlers to care for while she was wearing a dress that was never intended for a pregnant woman. One of the toddlers was part of the wedding—my flower girl. She wouldn't put her dress on (she wasn't feeling well, either), and she was screaming under a table. I looked at Julie, and I said, "Honestly, if she goes down the aisle naked or not at all, it wouldn't be the worst thing that's happened today."
I know that probably didn't help Julie feel better (I didn't realize she had no idea I had wrecked my car or fell down the stairs that morning—she may have known about the stairs, actually), but I seriously would've been okay with it. I was just happy to be at the church and alive, and the only stairs I had to walk on were all uphill (which was safer than downhill at that point).
Strangely enough, Jennifer (the flower girl) cheered up last-minute and put on her dress. She did wonderfully, the little ham. It was as if she knew she didn't have to do it, and maybe that calmed her. Maybe the ring bearer, Liam, helped give her some confidence once she got up to the doors. Or, maybe it was the help of the bridesmaids who talked her out from under the table. I don't really know. I wasn't really able to pay attention, unfortunately. I wish I had seen what really turned her around. It had to be pretty amazing.
When the music started, and when I met my dad at the back of the church, my day improved dramatically. In fact, from that moment, that day was the best day of my whole life. Mind you, I wouldn't want to have that sort of day everyday (or even more than once, honestly—any aspect of that entire day), but it certainly was the start of all of the best days of my life. It's pretty wild, too, because I'm pretty sure that morning may have been the worst morning of my entire life.
All the days that have followed that one have been nothing but better (and more fulfilling) than the days prior to that day. It was just a day in some hot, uncomfortable clothes. It was just a ceremony, but because of that day, we are here together, we are happy together, and we'll stay that way for the rest of time.
Our little girl is 17 months old today, and when we look at her and each other, we realize how lucky (and blessed) we are. I can't wait to see what else is in store for us (even if any of it could be bad).
We aren't two, different people. We're one, whole person.
Happy Anniversary, Willi.