As the cab pulled up to the church’s address, I said, “I think the wedding’s out back.” Kevin said he hoped not. The sign proved he was going to be hot. A little chill ran through me as it dawned on me that I said yes to a date to a wedding, which I don’t do. Because I don’t do weddings. I find it best to avoid them and the big mess of clichés that crash half the time.
Kevin read the sign about the wedding being held in the garden. I looked at the date on the sign: July 12, 2014, Matt and Sarah. I felt an emotional frenemy tap me on the shoulder. I didn’t know Matt and Sarah. I was just Kevin’s date. He was the part that I said yes to. Kevin came back into my life a few years back via Facebook. He and I used to work and compete in sales back in the late 80s. Now, over the last few months and as I near my 50th birthday, he’s got me believing in love again. Kevin danced from being a friend to owning the label boyfriend.
He held my hand and said, “Who the hell has a wedding in a garden at 6:00 in the evening in July?”
“Well,” I said, “That’s exactly what I did twelve years ago tomorrow.”
How did this suddenly become my reality? How did I get here? This garden, this wedding, this evening—stinging like a surreal mirror reminding me of my own self, gallant atop the mountain of hope, so high believing I could predict the future in front of friends and family, and with such certainty. I shook my head.
As Kevin and I walked to our seats, my skinny heels dug into the grass causing me to cling tighter to his arm. I sat down into the scene. I said something about having worn the wrong shoes. Kevin said, “I love them.”
The preacher, who looked like Huey Lewis, seemed to say all the same words my stepmother spoke when she officiated my ceremony that announced my now ex and I husband and wife, as if labels could insure longevity. We bet on a lifetime. How could we have known we were simply setting the scene and playing the characters for a few short acts? That scene, my celebration…Drop it! I told myself. Just be here, in this moment.
Here I saw an organ and a violin. As a relative of the bride sang, I sunk into my cynical self. I wanted to scream BULLSHIT! like I was at a Monsanto rally. Then, another woman sang a song, a beautiful torcher igniting emotional flashbacks. Kevin pointed out that the program—which doubled as a fan for the heat—said there was an open bar back by the pool, which he pointed out was just a few yards away. Could I dive there from my seat? Patience.
Another song—this time by a male relative, maybe a cousin or brother. I attempted to pull my hand away from Kevin’s leg, the subconscious need to cross my arms and close my heart, but he squeezed my hand and whispered, “I love this song” with beauty reflecting from his blue eyes.
I tried not to feel jaded. How did this happen? It was like watching a replay of my wedding day, of my marriage that crashed peacefully a couple of years back.
When the preacher talked about things that made marriage work, I mentally taunted the ideas: “Never go to bed angry.” Yeah, I thought, unless you’re alone so not going to bed angry means not getting any sleep.
All the points added up to impossible in my mind. No wonder! It is impossible. The preacher added, “May each day together get brighter and my you each grow more beautiful.”
I wanted to scream, “You’re going to have dark times!” and “Just wait until he doesn’t turn you on anymore!” I heckled the wedding in my head.
The bride and groom said their vows, beaming with hope, like kids who can’t imagine there’s no Santa. I thought, I said that. I believed that. I remembered standing at an altar in a garden, making promises to a man in a black tux while the sun bore down on him like a spotlight. I remembered that hope. That faith. That belief.
Now, I wanted to run out of the back of this garden, as if I was the one who knew the reason why this couple should not be joined. I didn’t even know this couple. When the preacher asked the audience if we support these people in honoring their marriage vows, I stayed silent next to Kevin’s deep, loud, confident, “Yes.” I wanted to raise my hand; I’ll drive the getaway car.
I disliked the cynical bitch who barged into my brain, but the occasion this crowd celebrated had led me down the wrong road. I doubted it could lead anywhere else.
When the wedding was over and I held an ice cold Michelob Ultra in my hand, I said, “The next time you want to invite me to a wedding, don’t.” When Kevin asked why, my inner bitch explained.
Kevin said, “Yeah, but this isn’t about you. It’s about them. We’re here to support them.” He wasn’t being mean, minimizing or judgmental, just real. In fact, the bastard was making me fall in love with him. His eyes danced with a whole lot of love for a man who’d hit 56 and had a history of, if not failed relationships, at least temporary ones, including one marriage. But, since when did lasting forever become the barometer of success? Maybe kicking cancer’s ass made Kevin feel invincible. He held hope unashamed, like a child holds a teddy bear.
Hope, I once held it so tightly I missed reality sneaking up on me. Faith, I had that too. I didn’t realize how hard my faith was shaken when my marriage crashed. It was a slow-motion wreck, but the relationship was totaled.
I wasn’t totaled, though. I was free and for the most part happy. Happy on my own—until Kevin. He held my hand and introduced me as his girlfriend to the bride and groom. Kevin appeared as another of God’s unexpected gifts in my life, one who became undeniable as he effortlessly broke down my walls. Considerate, kind, crazy Kevin–the key to returning hope to my heart. The kind of hope I thought reserved for fools. Fools in love, like me.