On the morning of my wedding day, I sat on the edge of my bed in the beautiful gown I had chosen. I could hear Joshua moving around in the other room as he got ready to go. Usually at this time, I’d be seeing after the twins, but Shirley had taken them to stay with her and Camille for the night. It was just me, Joshua, and Nora in the house right now; Carter had stayed over at his parents’. I needed to get up and make sure that Nora was getting ready, but I didn’t just yet. Instead, my mind wandered back.
I swung my feet from the kitchen chair. “Mom, why did you marry Dad?”
My mother turned around from preparing lunch. “Because I loved him, of course.” She came and sat down at the table. “What’s got you wondering that, sweetheart?”
I flushed a little and ducked my chin. “Oh, there’s no reason.”
She laughed softly and got up again, going back to the stove. “I see this is going to be a real conversation, so let me get lunch finished and we’ll go sit in the living room and talk.” She hummed softly as she cooked. I wished I hadn’t said anything, but I was curious. Why had they gotten married? How did she know she loved him? What was the wedding like?
“Come on, munchkin.” When Mom held out her hand, I got up and took it. Together, we went into the living room and settled down on the couch. “Now, why did I marry your father? Well, I loved him.” She smiled softly. “I loved him so much, he was all I could ever think about.”
“Is that how you know you love someone?”
“There are lots of ways to know. Is there a boy at school? Or is it the neighbor boy? I’ve seen him making eyes at you.”
I shook my head. “No, there’s no one. I just…I’m worried that I will meet a boy and I’ll miss it because I won’t know he’s the one!”
She pulled me into her arms. She smelled like lemon. “Sweetheart, trust me, you’ll know when it’s the one.”
I hugged her, leaning my head on her arm. “What was your wedding like? Did you wear a poofy dress?”
Mom smiled and kissed my hair. “Yes, I did. It was beautiful, but simple. We didn’t have a lot of money, so my mother – your grandma – made my dress. But it was very beautiful.”
“And grandpa walked you down the aisle?”
“Actually, your grandpa had already passed away when your father and I got married. So I had grandma walk with me.” She smiled fondly at the memory.
“When I get married, I want you both to walk me down the aisle.”
Mom laughed. “Both of us? That might be crowded.”
“Both.” I nodded emphatically. “Definitely both.”
I felt tears burn my eyes as I thought about my mother. I always missed Mom and Dad, but today I ached with the need to have them with me. I sniffed and grabbed a tissue from the nightstand, dabbing at my eyes. I couldn’t ruin my make-up before I even said “I do.”
I collected myself and left the bedroom. Today was one of the happiest days of my life. It was okay to miss my parents, but I needed to remember them with joy today, not with grief. They would both be with me today; they were always with me.
I looked into Carter’s eyes as we stood at the altar. I couldn’t believe how handsome he was; he completely took my breath away.
He cleared his throat and held my hands. “Haddie, I love you. I love your smile and the way you crinkle your nose when you laugh. I love the sound of your voice and how you get so focused when you’re at your easel. As soon as I saw you, I knew that you were it for me. I promise to spend every moment that we have together treasuring you.”
I blinked hard against the tears that threatened to spill. “Carter, when I found you, I was lost and broken. I didn’t know how to move on with my life. I was living for my children, but I felt hollow and I didn’t know how to find my way back to the light. You came into my life as a beacon of love and acceptance. You guided me into the light. You are my soulmate, Carter; I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. I love you with my whole heart and I vow to spend every day showing you that.”
He pulled me into his arms, kissing me until I could hardly breathe. I held onto him tightly, partially because I wanted to and partially because my knees felt weak from joy.
“I love you so much,” He murmured against my ear.
I hugged him harder. “I love you too.”
Even after we were pulled away from each other to mingle with our guests, I couldn’t keep my eyes from straying to my husband. My husband. It felt so good to call him that. Before the idea of marriage had come into my head, I had thought I was totally fine with having a “partner” or a “boyfriend,” but it felt right to be able to say with no uncertainty that Carter was mine and I was his.
Phil pulled me into a hug. “I’m so happy for the both of you.”
I smiled up at him. “Really?” My eyes widened at my surprised tone. I hadn’t meant for it to come out like that.
He squeezed my hand. “I really am. You make my son happy. That’s what is important.”
At the end of the day, Carter and I met on the sidewalk near the car. He leaned down and kissed me. “Are you ready for our honeymoon?”
I smiled up at him. “Absolutely.” Though I hated to leave the kids, he’d talked me into spending two days in Granite Falls. It would be the first time we’d had more than a single night alone with each other.
Together, we waved goodbye to our guests and got into the car.