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.

16 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

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