Today is the big day. Even though I’ve been preparing for this event all my life, I find that I am not nervous at all. Every hair is perfectly in place and my make-up is applied by the hands of an expert. My carefully selected dress falls around me in soft, silky folds.
My father cannot help but cry when he sees me, his youngest daughter.
“You are radiant,” he tells me, through his tears. Then he places my mother’s pearls around my neck. As he fastens the antique clasp, I wonder if he could possibly know how blissful I am in this moment.
My sister gently holds my hand and tells me she loves me with a single tear sliding down her cheek. She wants so badly to say something meaningful, but she just smiles and I know what she’s thinking. Even though she does not say it, I know she is wondering when her day will come. I would be thinking the same thing if I were her. Before she leaves to take her place in the family pew, she slips something into my hand. It is a delicate rosary, with beads the color of a pale morning sky.
In the corridor of the cathedral, Father Brannigan speaks in hushed tones with the man who I have known is my soul mate since the first day we met. The priest puts his hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm his nerves. Then they bow their heads in silent prayer. The wait is almost over.
As the ceremony draws near, the church is bursting at the seams. I scan the many faces in the crowd and it warms my heart to see loved ones I haven’t seen in years. So many friends and family members, all dressed in their Sunday best. The children look so cute, running wildly down the aisles despite their prim and proper attire. Parents try to reign them in, but they are just kids and don’t understand the importance of the occasion. I wish they would just let them run and play. Nothing can steal my joy today.
The air is thick with the fragrant scent of lilies and white roses. A spring garden couldn’t smell any sweeter. Never has the church looked so elegant. A sleek limousine even waits outside, gleaming in the summer sun. After all the planning, everything is absolutely perfect.
As the minister starts the ceremony, I see my mother and father sitting in the front pew. The faces I have known since I was born show their nervous anticipation as I move into this new, exciting chapter of my life. Mother begins to dab her eyes with her lacy handkerchief and my father wraps his arms around her in an attempt to comfort her. I know she is probably going over all the plans for the reception in her head in an effort to keep her composure. They will miss seeing me every day, but know I will always be a part of their lives.
My sweetheart speaks in soft tones about our life together and tells me how beautiful I look. His voice is shaky with emotion and I feel his love for me as strongly as ever.
At the end of the ceremony, with tears in his eyes, my husband leans into me and gives me a tender kiss.
“Rest in peace, my darling,” he whispers in my ear.
My only regret is that he cannot hear me whisper back, “I already am.”
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