On Saturday, June 11, 2011, my pastor's daughter got married. I'd been at the church for 14 years and had known her, now 28 for just about that long. Her parents married Thomas and me. He and I served on several committees together, had our children there and the children and I have remained there since his passing last year.
He would have been so tickled at this blessed event. At first I was not expecting to go. I have used very few sitters to the point that anyone my son could stay with was going to be at the ceremony. When one last attempt to find one fell through, I sadly on the last day to do so, sent my RSVP in as "No".
A week later, my mother called to say that the bride was a little disappointed I wouldn't be there. My mom explained why and they understood, but kind of hoped I'd still come. It was just the reception they were concerned about remaining adult only. Still, my son, though a sweet baby is a normal toddler. He'd sat through quite a few things, but if he was just having one of his talkative days, it could end up being a complete waste of time as far as me actually seeing the ceremony. I'd attended the graduation at my daughter's school and had to leave the room 4 times due to his chatter. But after an email exchange, the bride who has always been very kind hearted anyway, gave me her permission to bring him.
So I devised a plan. When we had gone to my niece's college graduation, I got there early and let him run around outside until he eventually sat down on the sidewalk. He then sat through the ceremony with minimal movement and just some jabbering. So I planned to leave the house early enough to get there at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony to allow him some run time before going into the hall.
What is they say about the best laid plans?
Elijah had a little stomach bug that kept him out of school on Friday even though he was over it, so I took advantage of my day off and got his haircut to save us time on Saturday. Then we went to the mall and I got myself a free hairdo by letting the woman selling flat irons give me a free demonstration. Didn't end up being free though. I was so impressed with the thing, I bought it.
The next morning went smoothly. We dressed and headed out for my daughter's tutoring session at Sylvan Learning Center. We are generally somewhat rushed going to this, but this time I had it together and we got there early enough that instead of parking and shooing Ariana out of the van, we actually got to go in and wait for the teacher to call the children back. I took it as a good sign as to how the day would go. While she was in class, Elijah and I went to a nearby Target and picked up a few things including a card for the newlyweds. Then we picked her up, made a quick stop at Wal-Mart for stockings for me and we were back home by a little after 11:00am.
Between then and 1:00pm, I got us cleaned up, did Ariana's hair, got us all dressed and got Elijah started on his nap. I went to mapquest.com to get directions to the location. I remembered the address and put it in and it was about (I thought) a 30 minute drive. Something in my head kept saying "double check the invitation" but I'd already put it in the van. You'd think I'd learned by now to listen to that small voice. It was probably Thomas.
It wasn't until I turned onto the street at 1:30 that I realized I had a big problem. The street was about as long as the one I live on (8 houses long) and the street numbers started at 8700 and I was looking for 205. Panic started to set in. I turned around hoping I'd just turned the wrong way, but the street did not continue on the other side of the intersection. What was I going to do? I looked at the invitation and realized I was on Fidelity Blvd and the invitation said New Fidelity Court. In mapquest I had just put in 205 Fidelity. I could literally feel my blood pressure going up. I had been forced to give up my lovely Blackberry for a much cheaper phone and could not get back on mapquest's website to figure out where to go. I stopped at a gas station not knowing how far away I really was and no one had even heard of the place I was looking for.
I called the person who had come to my rescue time and time again. I called the kids' Godmother and thank heavens she answered. But my heart sank when she was telling me where this place really was. We were at least 30 minutes away and it was now 1:40. It was then time to tell my little girl who was continually asking "Are we lost?" "Are we late?" the truth about what was happening.
Her first response? "I want to go home." I was inclined to agree with her. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. One thing I have noticed in this life (widowhood) is that a lot of mishaps are magnified and something like this feels like a disaster. I thought back to the pride I felt when we left the house. It is no small thing to get us dressed up and out of the house without something crazy happening even if it is just Elijah wanting to be held when I need to get dressed, but none of that had happened today. But this was far worse. But something said to move forward and I decided to give it a try.
It seemed like the longest drive ever. I was continuing to even as I drove try to figure out the best way to get to where I needed to go. I won't say I didn't waiver. I thought about giving up a couple more times. At 2:01, Ariana asked, "Is it two o'clock yet?" When I said yes, I told her I was sorry. She hadn't wanted to go because she still thinks kissing is yucky, but I'd convinced her she'd enjoy seeing the people in pretty clothes and that the pastors love us and want us to be there and that we had even been given special permission to bring her brother. She had actually gotten excited about it and I felt so bad for messing everything up. After I apologized, she burst into tears. I almost felt like she was getting it out for me. I asked her though why she was crying and she said, "I WANT TO GO!" Sometimes things that go wrong are magnified for her too.
But now I had new resolve. Somehow I was going to get us there and I actually began to ask God to delay the thing. Sad, but true. I prayed that as long as it was nothing serious and no one got hurt for something to delay the thing. Perhaps I thought, someone important would be late. My wedding hadn't started on time. Maybe this one wouldn't either. Once we finally got on a highway that would get us there, I started breathing a bit better, but still the clock would not lie. I remember looking at it at one point and it was 2:15. I shook my head. Ariana asked me if I was okay and I said, "To tell you the truth, I feel like crying." She said, "You go ahead and let it out." I chuckled a little instead. I looked at Elijah, totally oblivious to the craziness as usual and the picture of calm. Ariana had new resolve. She eventually exclaimed, "DO NOT STOP UNTIL WE GET TO THAT WEDDING!" I thought to myself…riiiiiggghhhtt. And I prayed I would not add insult to injury by getting pulled over. I'll admit I was driving as if someone was chasing me.
It's too late to make this long story short, but we eventually got there and I was almost done in by how close to our house this place actually was. It was 2:30. I parked the van, and started doing my usual, "hurry and get out of the van" pleading with Ariana. I scrambled to get everything and prepared myself to have to just leave my gift and wait outside in the hope of getting a glimpse of the Bride and Groom when they came out. As I hurried towards the entrance with Elijah on my hip and Ariana following as close behind us as she could, I was amazed at what I saw next.
The Bridal party, led by the groom was making its way from one door to another. As I got closer a guy, who by his features appeared to be the groom's brother, said to him, "It's time man," to which he answered, "I know." I couldn't believe it. It hadn't even started yet. We got inside and got seated and I looked at Ariana and said, "Can you believe it? We didn't miss any of it." She just smiled. Another couple who are also deacons came in right behind us saying they also had trouble finding it and had also prayed for some kind of delay. We laughed about it.
It was a beautiful ceremony. My pastor both gave his daughter away and married them. There was music, laughter, beautiful dresses, handsome suits and the hall was exquisite. The bride was breath taking and the ceremony was sweet. Ariana was a bit of a chatter box so full of whispering questions but she'd never seen a wedding other than the video of mine and her father's. My darling son hardly made a sound. He had some juice and after just laid on my lap for the rest of the ceremony.
I did have to go back to the van afterwards because in my haste I left the card in there, but we spent some time a the "pre-recepton" gathering before leaving. A real celebratory atmosphere and I felt priviledged to be there. Just a few people knew what I'd been through that day, but I did tell my mom I felt like giving up and crying and going home, but a voice kept telling me to go ahead. Ariana tugged on my sleeve and said, "That was me mom." She is such a crackup.
We went to a local Appleby's and had a leisurely meal before going home. I felt a need to just relax with them after that. When we got out of the van I noticed again how beautiful they both are and I snapped some pictures before we went inside and after we were seated.
I learned a lesson I have learned time and time again. It is best to keep going forward.