I woke up feeling so sick. Maybe it was one too many apple pie moonshine shots the night before. Maybe it was the fact that I was getting married that day. I drove right over to Tom’s house to get started on the dozens of donuts we had to make for the reception, but I didn’t even make it inside. He came out to the driveway to meet me, and as soon as I saw him I burst into tears. We stood there as I cried without understanding why, and he quietly held me without needing to know. We decided he would make the donuts so I could go home and regroup.

I don’t remember much of what came next. I know I loaded up the dozens and dozens of DIY projects I’d poured myself into over the previous four months. My family ate a box of tacos from Taco Bell; I still wanted to throw up. I gathered my wedding dress, purple suede shoes, cowboy boots, and the suitcase I’d frantically packed the evening before. (Somehow in all the wedding craziness I’d forgotten I needed to also pack for our honeymoon.) I shoved it all into my car and started the half hour drive to the venue.

Two frenzied and stressful hours later we’d gotten the whole wedding party dressed, had our first look in front of the store where I’d bought my dress for our sophomore homecoming, taken pictures, and changed out of our wedding attire so we could finish setting up for the ceremony and reception.

Some people build a balloon wall, some set up the popcorn and dessert bars, someone went to buy the coffee I’d forgotten. I wandered from spot to spot answering questions and feeling numb. So much love and sacrificial service swirled around me. So many people that had shaped Tom and I individually and as a couple were now working together to perfect every detail of our big day. There had been a lot of drama and tension leading up to it, but that day, in those moments of insane activity I felt more loved, cared for, and supported than ever before. In that moment I knew we would be OK, because for all our flaws and shortcoming there was one thing we knew how to do–find and pour ourselves into a community that would take care of us.

That night was, of course, a celebration of our new life together. More than that, though, it was a pouring out of thanks for and a celebration of all the people who had carried us to that point. As the dust settled, and we found ourselves on a hotel balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach, I was excited and terrified, alive in a brand new way, but binding that all together was a heart wrenching gratitude that I felt deep in my bones. We didn’t start this journey alone, and the single greatest blessing along the way has been that we haven’t had to travel it alone either.

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