Last summer I did something I never thought I ever do. Again. I got married. E and I had a long courtship. Almost twenty years. We weren’t avoiding getting married. Nor were we opposed to it. We even discussed it on many occasions. In fact, E proposed very early in our relationship. He even bought me a diamond ring. Albeit from a pawn shop. But still. Romantic with a quirky twist. Just like us.
The ring was lovely. Oodles of women would have considered it so. But it wasn’t me. It was too much. Really. Over the top. And then some. Picture this. Two rings, one a gold band with a mid-sized solitaire in a towering prong setting and the other a chevron of smaller flashy diamonds. The two are then locked together like a Gordian knot to create one glittery bauble. Symbolic perhaps of a man and woman embracing eternity. Or just plain complicated.
I wore the ring for several years but it never felt right. I really did try. I hoped against hope that it would grow on me. That one day I would look down at my hand and not cringe. Then something happened that changed everything. On my way to work I lost the solitaire. I made the horrifying discovery while in the washroom freshening up for the start of my day. Where my priceless diamond once sat, there was now this cavernous hole. I sat on the toilette and bawled like a baby. It was pitiful. Although I didn’t fancy the ring I dearly loved the man who gave it to me. Seeing the empty cavity felt like a piece of my heart had just been wrenched.
This all took place in January. Not a great start to the year.
Then something miraculous happened. It began with a heaping basket full of clean clothes that were in dire straits. Desperately needing to be put away. I had been ignoring this growing mountain of laundered shame for several weeks. Concealed behind closed doors, more like dirty laundry than clean, it was easy to ignore. Of all the domestic chores, putting away laundry has always been my least favorite. But this situation had grown grim. I could not add another stitch to the stack. I had reached critical mass. The tipping point. Clean out of room. Try not to judge. We all have our weaknesses. This happens to be mine. I do plan to fix this undesirable character flaw. Right after I grow more love, wisdom, patience, kindness, the ability to forgive the unforgivable, read the bible from Genesis to Revelations, understand E=mc2, perfect a B major chord, cook perfect brown rice, and lose ten pounds. Then I plan to work on that laundry thing.
It took about an hour to put everything away. Once complete, I was brimming with pride at my accomplishment. ‘I’ll even return the basket to the laundry room,’ I thought while patting myself heartily on the back. Yes, I was full of pride but very little energy by this point. The trek down the three flights of stairs to the laundry room was daunting. Because I had lost the vim from vigor, I kind of dragged the basket behind me as I descended the steps. It did this little bounce on the steps above. Boing. Boing. Boing. After the third or fourth boing something small and sparkly caught the corner of my eye. I stopped. Grabbed the basket. Plopped down on the step and literally could not believe my eyes. There it was. The diamond. It had been in the basket all along. I hadn’t lost it on the way to work as I had believed. Instead I must have knocked it off while grabbing something to wear from the closet. This was a bona fide miracle in my books. And to everyone I have told this story. What were the odds of finding a teensy-weensy diamond at the bottom of a blue plastic laundry basket? About the same as finding a needle in a hay stack.
The peculiar thing, or divine, depending on your particular perspective on the far-fetched. It was like this little diamond wanted to be discovered. I say this because it wasn’t just lying inertly at the bottom of the basket. It was literally bouncing up and down. Flying through the air like one of the Wallendas. Shouting “look at me look at me look at me!”
E and I decided it was too risky to have the diamond put back into the prongs of the protruding pawnshop ring. We would start fresh. Begin anew. So I designed my own ring and had it handmade by a jewelry artist named Willy. A simple bezel setting with the diamond nestled safely into the gold band. No extra frills or gewgaws. Just the single lost gem. It was me.
When E and I decided to exchange vows last year he asked if I wanted a new ring for the occasion. ‘Absolutely not’ I declared. On the day of our wedding I removed it for a few hours so that E could place it back on my finger. For eternity. I will wear it to the grave.
We climbed to the top of a hill in the rugged park behind our house. Joined on the walk by our family, friends and beloved minister. My sister, two daughters, granddaughter and daughter-in-law were my “daisy girls.” E’s brother was his best man and his band of brothers were his groomsmen. My son, who stood in for The Old Man, walked me up the rocky slope to give me away. We paused along the path to take a picture together. My son holding the camera at arms length as we languished in this precious moment together. In the distance, the sweet dulcet sound of V’s violin and A’s guitar drifted over us like a cloud of honey. An Irish waltz. Maire Dhall. Romantic. Lovely. When we reached the top my heart stopped. I was overwhelmed by the magnificent view. My Daisy Girls, V and A with their instruments, the minister, the groomsmen, our family and friends, our kids’ friends. They were all there creating this wondrous circle of love. And E. Beautiful E. Handsome as ever.
If all that wasn’t miracle enough. There was still another.
Because this was a DIY wedding we kept things close to home and very informal. Vows were exchanged on the Cairn overlooking the Garry Oak meadow behind our home. The reception was held in our garden. While planning this intimate family affair, I envisioned a beautiful hot and sunny summer day. Just like those of my childhood and youth. But this was the West Coast.
Although it has taken a few decades, I’ve learned that you don’t always get what you want. Sometimes you get what you need, at least according to one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs. It had been raining miserably for the weeks leading up to the day of our wedding. To say I was coming unglued was an understatement. The weather forecast was bleak. It was unnerving to say the least. The prospect of an outdoor wedding where everyone and everything was rain-soaked was disheartening. It was a fiasco in the making. Or so I thought. I was completely irrational by this point. Luckily E and his brother weren’t. They presented me with a contingency plan, that even to my hysterical overwrought bride-to-be brain, made sense. They rented big tents for the big day. My grand daughter and I went to the local dollar store and bought a ton of cheap plastic umbrellas. At least our guests would be undercover. Not perfect. Or perhaps it was.
On the morning of our wedding I awoke to the familiar sound of pounding rain. It no longer mattered. This was our big day. We were doing this thing. Rain or shine. My Daisy Girls and I got our hair done in the morning. It was still raining. On the way back to the house we picked up our daisy bouquets from the florist and the mixed flowers for the tables. It was still raining. Meanwhile my sister-in-law J and dear friend P prepared the platters of food. Tents were erected. Tables were set and flowers arranged. Love notes were hung on the trees. I was still raining. By two our wedding party began to dress for the occasion. Our youngest daughter’s BFF did my make-up. The photographer arrived and began shooting. The 3-tier Love Birds wedding cake was delivered with care. The minister arrived. He said a lovely prayer with E and I.
Then the really big miracle happened.
Some time during the flurry of activity and hoo-ha of getting ourselves pretty for our guests and the camera, the rain stopped. The sky opened. The sun broke between the clouds. There it remained. While we did the wedding walk up the hill and exchanged vows. It held vigil while E and I kissed each other and embraced our family and friends.
The rain was held at bay long enough for photos to be taken and our guests to make their way back to the sanctuary prepared for them in our garden. By six it was sprinkling. So what, I thought. C’est la vie. We were all safe and happy under shelter. We celebrated. We ate. We were merry. We made music. My grand daughter played the trombone just for us. E and I performed the wedding song I wrote. It was a glorious occasion. Perfect.
Everyone there to bear witness that afternoon remarked on how it was like the sky opened up just for us. It was miraculous they all proclaimed. Even the most cynical in the group were inspired.
E and I both prayed for a hot sunny day for our wedding. As we all know, prayers aren’t always answered in the way we expect. Sometimes the answer is far better and more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. We got exactly what we needed that day. We wouldn’t have traded it for the world. A miracle. Heaven sent. God’s grace shining down upon us. What better way to begin a marriage?