The entry doors fling open to the other side.
Everything was just as I pictured it. Pearl white roses stranded pews together with peppermint pink stargazer lilies, flooding the cathedral with heavenly incense. The plinking of the harp strings tiptoed across the black silence in satin waves. Friends and family from both sides were brimming over the pews in hushed anticipation.
Of course, my father was there with me, guiding me every step of the way. His voice poured over my raw nerves like a healing balm.
You look so beautiful.
Clutching his arm tighter, I squint my eyes to focus on the glowing light from the candelabras trickling through the blackness. My legs feel like jelly, and the harp music sounds garbled, like a pool of vibrations. Just as I am about to faint, I feel my father tighten his grip. He whispers gently in my ear.
I’ve got you.
Suddenly a surge of panic paralyzes my body. The reality of falling into this black hole of the unknown accelerates my thoughts. This is forever. There is no turning back, no undoing. What if I am not ready for this? It’s so final. What if this changes who I am? His words halt my spinning thoughts.
You will always be my child.
A ripple of love washes through me. I forget about what I am losing and wrap my heart around the permanency of the bond. My feet begin to glide down the center aisle in cadence with the music. He nods as if to reassure me.
One step at a time.
We continue our procession. In the corner of my eye I see the stained glass window where he kneeled down to propose. We pass it, but the image freezes in my mind, swirling into a kaleidoscope of memories. It’s what he said after the proposal that brought tears to my eyes.
“I wanted to bring you here—at church—to ask you. I promise to love you as Christ loves the church.”
My father lightly breathes in my ear.
My vision clouds as tears catch in the crevices of my black mesh veil. With shaking hand, I place my bouquet on the center of his casket. I turn to face the attendants, a tapestry of somber shadows.
“I didn’t think I could do this,” I began in a hoarse whisper.
“But my Heavenly Father escorted me to this place. This was supposed to be my—our wedding day. Instead, I am here at my fiancé’s funeral.”
I skimmed the sea of faces, reading the common question in their eyes.
“I know what you are asking. It is the same question that I asked so many times—through tears, rage, and disillusion. Why? Why God, would you allow death to breathe into the center of life? This was supposed to be a celebration of a new beginning. I tried to explain to God. Isn’t that funny? How we explain things to God?”
A small laugh flutters through my tears.
“It was only when I was still that I received my answer.”
The stream of sorrow flowing through the room hesitated in expectation of a new direction.
“Before I fell asleep last night—which was by the grace of God—I tucked Joshua’s wedding ring inside the pages of my bible. When I woke up, God dropped a sense of excitement into my heart. He led me to the bible. At first, I just stared at it in a blurry daze. Then, with greater urgency, He prodded me, ‘Go ahead, open it.’ The pages unfolded from the wedged ring, which circled John 3:29*
“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine and it is now complete.”
I paused so it could sink in, just as it had with me.
“After I read this, God revealed a beautiful vision. He wanted the funeral to be on our wedding day to give us a glimpse of the celebration in heaven. I pictured Joshua walking down the center aisle of pure gold. I saw the angels’ joyous tears, thick and golden, like dewdrops of honey. I heard the velvety sound of worship drape across the windows of heaven. It unfolded as a sacred prelude to silence—an anointed hesitation—so Joshua could hear his Bridegroom’s voice.”
*John 3:29 (NIV)
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