The Day I Got Married

I squinted at the chapel in the distance. Headlights filled the parking lot. Half of Brewton, Alabama was attending the wedding.

The day of our wedding, it was a blizzard. And in North Florida, that means: fifty degrees and overcast.

I was supposed to be nervous—that’s what everyone told me. They said I’d feel sick, that my knees would shake.

But no shaking.

The chapel was within spitting distance of the beach. I had time to kill, so I parked near the Gulf. The sun was setting. The sky looked like orange sherbert.

I squinted at the chapel in the distance. Headlights filled the parking lot. Half of Brewton, Alabama was attending the wedding.

A few nights before, my pal asked if I wanted a bachelor party. No, I answered. I hated bachelor parties worse than bachelorhood.

“What about a cigar?” he’d suggested.

I don’t care for them.

So he gave me a pouch of Red Man chew and a racy Congratulations card. They both sat on my dashboard, unopened.

I don’t chew. But, since I had nothing better to do, I tried a cheek-full. It had been a long time since I’d touched the stuff.

As a boy, my father gave me my first pinch while we sat on his tailgate. It made me dizzy, but not sick—which impressed him.

Few things impressed him.

“Whatever you do,” he’d said. “Don’t swallow your spit.”

Times have changed. A father could go to jail for doing such today.

I spat on the sand. I wished he were alive. I wished someone would’ve been around to toast me at the reception, to show me how to tie a bowtie.

Wedding-time: I arrived at the double doors and saw the preacher on the sidewalk. The first thing he did was straighten my tie and remind me not to lock my knees.

“No matter how tough you think you are,” he said. “Everyone’s knees shake.”

Not me. Mine were oak limbs.

I stood at the altar— it was decorated with lit Christmas trees. The piano started to pound a familiar song. People stood, they sounded like a stampede.

I saw her.

A girl. My breath got stuck. I’d never seen anyone wear so much white. I wish I could tell you she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, but that would be selling her short.

She was the rest of my life in a dress.

She was breakfast, road trips, singing with the car radio, arguments in Winn Dixie, homemade biscuits on Saturday, chicken soup when I’m sick, long nights in a hospital waiting room, the other half of my closet. Home.

The preacher touched my shoulder. “Breathe, son. You’re shaking like a leaf.”

The shaking I’d heard about.

Nobody ever told me a thing about crying.

Happy anniversary, Jamie.

36 comments

  1. Debora Colvin - December 22, 2016 1:09 pm

    Happy anniversary! To both of you. Life is grand when you marry the one you can love like family.

    Reply
  2. Judy - December 22, 2016 2:29 pm

    Aw-ww. Such a beautiful memory and, by the sounds of it, a beautiful marriage.

    Reply
  3. trina - December 22, 2016 2:42 pm

    That is so sweet! Thank you for your ability to pull us into your life! Merry Christmas and Happy Anniversary!

    Reply
  4. Jerenell Gorbutt - December 22, 2016 3:14 pm

    Happy Anniversary To You Two Special Young People. May The Lord Bless You Today And Everyday With Love And Laughter!!!

    Reply
  5. Mary Ellen Hall - December 22, 2016 4:05 pm

    ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!

    Reply
  6. Beverly - March 15, 2017 1:27 pm

    So sweet…..thanks.

    Reply
  7. Sandra Marrar - April 6, 2017 9:48 am

    Aww, so sweet!

    Reply
  8. marsha - April 6, 2017 11:51 am

    Tears.

    Reply
  9. Coleen Emert Brooks - April 6, 2017 12:26 pm

    Oh my. “She was the rest of my life in a dress.” Those are simply lovely words. Beautiful tribute to Jamie.

    Reply
    • Gerald - April 6, 2017 1:43 pm

      MY thoughts exactly.

      Reply
  10. Jo Ann - April 6, 2017 1:33 pm

    Happy Anniversary to you & your wife. Thank you for the stories you send us every day. They make my life brighter & other people bearable. We need the good news & to hear about the good things other folks do without expectations of world adulation.

    Reply
  11. Gail Campbell - April 6, 2017 2:05 pm

    “She was the rest of my life in a dress,” is the line that said it all. Perfectly articulated.

    Reply
  12. Thomas Harrison - April 6, 2017 3:11 pm

    Touches my soul….

    Reply
  13. Celeste Sheppard - April 6, 2017 6:56 pm

    Now I’m crying. You’re writing is so beautiful! Please don’t ever stop. Love you Sean

    Reply
  14. Peggy Black - April 7, 2017 1:17 am

    Beautifully said! Congratulations!

    Reply
  15. Lilli Ann Snow - April 7, 2017 6:16 pm

    ✨💓✨
    You and your heart are stretching me and mine with every word you write. Stretching is good. It’s how we grow. God loves you, Sean. He is all about heart-stretching.

    Reply
  16. Lynnis - December 19, 2017 9:04 am

    Absolutely beautiful description for the love of your life. I think you’re both blessed beyond measure. Happy Anniversary! May God continue to show his love thru you and your words that bless us every day.

    Reply
  17. Steve Winfield - December 19, 2017 9:14 am

    Been there. Bawled my eyes out.

    Reply
  18. Dawn Todhunter - December 19, 2017 11:07 am

    Reply
  19. Roger - December 19, 2017 11:40 am

    “…the rest of my life in a dress.” Nice

    Reply
  20. Mary - December 19, 2017 11:42 am

    “She was the rest of my life in a dress.” One of the most beautiful lines I have ever read. Jamie is a lucky woman. Happy anniversary!

    Reply
  21. Joyce Hubbard - December 19, 2017 1:16 pm

    And the best of your life is the rest of your life….Happy Anniversary

    Reply
  22. Maxine Cockerill - December 19, 2017 1:25 pm

    Beautifully written.

    Reply
  23. Laura Goslee - December 19, 2017 1:42 pm

    “I wish I could tell you she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen but that would be selling her short”… thank you to the men who see and hold our hearts, our wounds, our love… and they love, honor and cherish us.
    Happy Anniversary Sean and Jamie! It is so cool knowing all the little stories Sean has written of your love and lives while saying a little Happy Anniversary prayer and wish for you today. May your love continue to be a home, a resting place, an inspiration, a joy, an adventure and a life long love fest! God bless!!

    Reply
  24. Nancy - December 19, 2017 1:43 pm

    Happy anniversary❣️

    Reply
  25. Maria Ashmore - December 19, 2017 2:09 pm

    Happy happy day you two! So glad I’ve had the pleasure to meet you both. You deserve the best!!! Such a sweet anniversary wish!!!

    Reply
  26. Gerald - December 19, 2017 2:17 pm

    My son cried at his wedding as well. They now have five children (the youngest they adopted) and foster others as well.

    Reply
  27. Bruce C - December 19, 2017 2:32 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Jamie and Sean … and many, many more in the future!

    Reply
  28. Carra - December 19, 2017 2:32 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️. Exceptionally well-captured memory. I love that you’ve included that you guys have spats, too. Real couples do. Dan and I celebrate 32 years on Thursday. Life wouldn’t be nearly as much fun or the low times nearly as bearable without him. Happy Anniversary to you and your wife.

    Reply
  29. Peb - December 19, 2017 2:46 pm

    Happ Anniversary! I live to read your stories!

    Reply
  30. Patricia Parker - December 19, 2017 3:17 pm

    Happy Anniversary! May you enjoy many more.

    Reply
  31. Beth - December 19, 2017 4:24 pm

    Your words – they take you right there and leave you in the moment. Such a joy to read. Happy anniversary.

    Reply
  32. Dolly - December 19, 2017 10:28 pm

    Happy Anniversary! I so enjoy your stories. Thank you!

    Reply
  33. Gayle - December 19, 2017 10:57 pm

    Happy anniversary to you and your precious Jamie

    Reply
  34. Paula Byrd - December 20, 2017 2:21 am

    Oh goodness. How eloquent! Ain’t love grand?

    Reply
  35. Betty Kemp - December 21, 2017 1:35 am

    Happy Anniversary!

    Reply

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