June 30th, 1990 - 17 years ago...
I stood at the head of the slanted line of men in black. I was clean shaven. I had a stylish haircut, long on the top and bowl-short on the sides and back. My brother was my best man and four other friends stood behind him. We were all boys. The air was heavy, the sun shone brazenly through the church windows. We had followed the old rules: Don't see the bride on wedding day. The organ music began and her maids commenced their procession down the aisle. They finally reached their appointed marks, creating a reflection of the boys on the other side. There was one empty spot at the front of the church - we were waiting for her. Her.
The white church doors opened, just like in those movies. And then she appeared, holding her daddy's arm and smiling. I had seen the dress hanging lifeless on a hangar. But now, it was full of life, her life. That tightness grabbed my throat and the eyes pooled up with tears. I couldn't help it. She looked so incredibly beautiful. And the person she wanted to stand beside on that day was me. Me.
He led her down the aisle as I will one day lead my girls. At least I hope it works out that way. He led her one last time. From now on, he was trusting me to lead her, guide her, love her in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, 'till death did us part. He joined our hands and then sat down, he took her as far as he could. It would now be up to us. Us.
Her. Me. Us. We both said, "I do" on that Arkansas afternoon. I'm pretty sure neither one of us had the foggiest idea what we were agreeing to. How can you? It's all words on such a day. Empty words. And what we agreed to was filling those empty words up, together. And how did we fill them up? With sickness (the flu, pregnancy, crutches) and health (running 5ks and organic peanut butter), with richer (glass screen doors purchased by a tax-refund) and poorer (a wooden porch swing purchased by a tax-refund), and weekend trips to B&Bs and a son and a daughter and then one more daughter, and churches and steeples and look at all the people, with cars and vans and ski trips and the fourth of July on Arkansas lakes, with disappointments and successes, with tears and anger, with risky job-quitting and dream chasing and snow and Colorado. Those and so much more are what we filled up those empty words with. Our lives. And we're not finished yet. Her. Me. Us.