It has been exactly twenty-five years since my life began. Oh, I know I am approaching my forty-fifth biological year of life, but the past seems fairly uneventful until the time of my marriage. Sure, there were other times in my life that seemed of such great importance at the time; dance recitals, births of younger siblings and enjoying their achievements. And these small events probably helped to shape the me that I am today. They certainly affected the manner in which I chose to raise our sons. But living – really living began on April 5, 1971 when two young teenagers stood in front of Pastor Todd and vowed in sickness and in health until death do us part.
A girl plans her wedding day as soon as she holds her Barbie in hand with the white tulle of the tiny gown resting on her fingers. I was no different. I had planned for this day since I could write. I sketched gowns and halls and steps and flowers. And the next week, those sketches were replaced with newer ones with different colors and a stylish new wedding gown. Oh yes. I had planned for this day forever.
The difference between the real day and the planned for hoped for and dreamed of day was unimaginable. There was no mother dressed up with a color coordinated corsage on her dress. There was no father to walk me down the aisle and to give my hand in marriage. There were no brothers in suits and no little sisters as my flower girls. My dad made it known to all who would listen that I was his dirty little family secret and believed that I purposefully set out to disgrace the family. This was 1971. I was pregnant at the age of eighteen and dad was adamant that my family could not and would not attend this wedding. I felt abandoned by my mother and father and siblings. I was a failure in the eyes of my father – the only person I always wanted to please. I had been daddy’s little girl and never even tried to hide it. I could do no wrong in his eyes. Until now.
Now he was telling me that I was not good enough to be his daughter anymore. So, I was given away by someone who I had met only months before and have only seen one time since. The wedding was small, cold and not very personal. Pastor Todd did his best to make us feel special, but with the more than noticeable absence of my family, it was more of a priority to get through the short ceremony and leave my humiliation on the steps of the little church.. Except for my new husband and the tiny child growing inside me, I wanted the wedding to be over and to be only in our little world of almost three, for the remainder of the evening.
We were not in need of a night of passion – we had experienced that about six months earlier. We needed only time and each other so we could absorb what lay ahead for us. And so when we gave in to the exhaustion and lay wrapped in each other’s arms – feeling the foreign gold bands on our fingers – I breathed in the cool spring air drifting in from a window ajar and tried to overcome the waves of nausea from a combination of morning sickness and nerves. And there I made a silent promise to my husband and future babies that they would never feel alone and never have the sting of abandonment that I had faced on what was supposed to be the best day of my life.
I had been married for only five short hours. As we calmly drifted to sleep, the morning sickness subsided and the nerves calmed. We were together and that was everything.