The happy wedding day preparations had hit a bit of a...snag.
The bride, Lila, was more ensnared in her wedding gown than wearing it, and the hollering began.
Let her yell for a minute, and travel back a bit in time to see how this could have happened...
The gown, she felt, should be one of those enormous numbers, with yards and yards of fabric, layers of pearls and beads and satin, and covering roughly a zip code in area from the front of the hooping situation all the way to the last trailing inch of train. Thus she chose, thus she committed.
And she was determined.
She had the dress fitted, and went on a diet.
The dress was altered, the bride added exercise. Like a fiend.
She constrained, squeezed, and did her best heave ho into a corset made of whalebone, Kevlar, and possibly a fabric next to titanium on the period table of elements.
The dress was still not gonna happen, but she had three months of proper nutrition and low impact gentle water exercising to help her toward her goal.
And seething, fire-breathing, do-or-die with her eyes glowing red action when no one was looking.
Slowly, surely, sizes declined, possibility shimmered.
The night before the wedding, Lila tried on the dress (with appropriate coat of near-armor beneath it), and voila! She could continue to inhale and exhale AND wear it AT THE SAME TIME!
So, in the morning, to the church, and the Sunday School room converted for the day into a bridal changing room. Her bridesmaids hovered around and helped with the application of each layer, from the body out, with the various hook, zips, buttons and snaps. When the final person was accounted for (the little flower girl, alas, had gotten a trifle lost, but had been cowering between satin panels A and D nearly the whole time), the bride turned to look in the full-length mirror (slowly, trying not to step on herself or her clothing in any way).
Now, we'll rejoin the shrieking we set aside earlier.
"NO, NO, NO!!! This can't be happening! It fit last night! It was beautiful! My dress, my wedding, my day!!! No, no, no, No No NO NO NO--Help NOW!"
The buzzing bridesmaids knelt, and tiptoed, and examined, and everyone agreed that the dress had not been put on correctly... but what had gone wrong or exactly where to start with the undoing process, nobody seemed eager to volunteer. No ideas, no suggestions, no input.
Her face set into the same hardened determination that had seen her through 7000 situps, and as she waved her arm, queen like, she said, "Everyone leave the room. Send Larry in."
Her maid of honor began to protest, noting the obvious: "But Lila, Honey, Larry's the groom. He's not..." The second arm wave silenced her, and she scooted out of the room with the others.
Larry was summoned.
Imagine a scale between nervous and terrified, and Larry was tipping toward the T end, but he was a very brave soul.
He tapped on the door, entered, and instinctively did the right thing--comfort first, fix second.
Once her tears were dry, he began what would be one of his most important engineering projects ever.
His utterances were brief.
He found a silk part connected to a bead instead of a hoop. "Um, hmmm. That's supposed to go there." That helped--at least then she could face fully forward.
He discovered a whole panel that was interfering with a zipper because it was stuffed inside instead of outside. "How did they manage this?" Progress!
He established that a whole line of buttons had been ignored, and the dress had been fastened there using the ornamental buttons instead. "Oh, I see."
Now all that remained was a small gap. Snaps lined the section, but where was the matching part?
"This...no, that can't be right. Which of these...no, they're right, too. Hmm, hmm, hmm."
To the bride: "Can we just pin this part together and call it good?" Even as he suggested it, he had his doubts. When you disassemble something, never leave out a part when reassembling. This row of snaps surely is meant for some purpose...
A new voice spoke up. "The bodice is on right, but the skirt is backwards. You're trying to attach the train, and you can't." Grandma, to the rescue! She had been there all along, quietly observing the hubbub.
The groom pondered. "If we try to just pin it, the small gap is going to become a gaping hole, and..."
"And I'll trip on it, tearing open a yawning chasm, and-"
"Next stop--Grand Canyon!" Grandma was always happy to help.
So, our now-much-happier bride stepped into the ladies room and made the change Grandma had suggested.
When she returned to the classroom, lo, and behold, a row of snaps aligned with a row of... whatever you call the other part of a snap. As they came together, one by one, with their little metallic click, bride, groom, and Grandma let out a little celebration of "Oh, SNAP!"
52 years later...
The last of the nurses left the room, and Larry and Lila began their final talk.
"Larry, I'm so sorry. I don't want to leave you here alone. Why couldn't this tumor have responded like the one from 11 years ago?"
No response, just a loving smile.
"Looks like this is one thing you can't fix by figuring it out, taking it apart, and correcting the errors."
"Shhh. Don't try to talk too much. Save your breath."
Silence stretching. Hearts breaking.
"Listen, Lila, we've had a good life. Yes, we've had sorrows and rough times, but we always had each other to lean on. I couldn't have asked for a better wife or a better life. You mean everything to me." Tears wet his cheeks, but were a mixture of impending grief and 'happy tears.'
"I know, Honey, I feel the same way. I just think about the kids losing their Mama, and the grandkids... But you. Mostly I worry about you. You'll be all alone in that big house! And your hip bothers you some, and the arthritis... I want to stay! I want to keep growing old with you! I --" Harsh coughs cut her off.
"Yes, my love, I wish you could stay, too. But, well, we'll be separated only for a time, then I'll join you.
"At first it'll seem like a small gap, like you're still right here with me. Then, a big gaping hole will open up in my heart, and it'll be hard to go on."
They both began to grin, despite the situation and topic.
Lila jumped in. "You'll be sucked in feet first to the yawning chasm of mourning, then...
In unison: "Next stop, Grand Canyon!"
And even on her deathbed, with probably only hours left to her, they laughed one more time about the long-ago delay to their wedding, their marriage, and their life together as one.
In the wee hours of the morning, with only the sounds of labored breathing and the grandfather clock in the hall ticking, she squeezed Larry's hand to wake him from his dozing.
"Time for you to go now?"
"Um-hmm. Time." She smiled for the last time and said, "Oh, snap."
She closed her eyes and her chest stilled.
"Oh, snap," Larry echoed.
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