Just over 18 years ago . . .
. . . I heard one word that changed my life forever. The word was “yes,” and it came from the girl I loved when I asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. The days that followed were exciting and challenging. They were filled with laughter, tears, lots of joy, and plenty of anxious moments.
Today, I was reminded of one such moment. On the night of our wedding, my bride was determined to have her picture made in her gown on the steps of the Opryland Hotel’s Magnolia Lobby. This would have been fine, except that our wedding took place at the First Baptist Church in Cullman, AL. That’s roughly 153 miles from church altar to hotel steps. Since the complexities of getting into her dress prevented the option of simply changing clothes, we were stuck in our matrimonial attire for the duration of the two hour trip.
Furthermore, while we left the church in a spacious limo (thanks again, Mike and Melanie), the bulk of our journey took place in a two-door Nissan Sentra. The train of Darlene’s dress alone contained for more fabric than the entire interior of this car. Nevertheless, my two eyes peered through a sea of white satin as we made the perilous journey toward those fateful steps and on to the rest of our lives.
Now, I told you all of that to tell you this. I dropped Darlene off at the entrance of the Magnolia lobby, along with all of our assorted bags, suitcases, and ancillary items. Then I set out in search of a parking space, which I eventually found somewhere in the neighboring city of Hendersonville. When I finally returned, I found Darlene in the lobby out of breath and frantically gathering our things around her.
Apparently, it was only after I left that she realized there was no good way to get through the revolving door in her dress. And once she was in, how would she get back to all of our bags? She saw no staff to ask for assistance. She was stuck. So she waited, and waited, and waited. But since I was walking back from the next county, it took a while.
In the mean time, people began noticing my lovely bride in her sparkling cathedral gown. Even now, I can hear what they were thinking. “Oh look, Henry. That poor girl has been abandoned on her wedding night, and in such a lovely dress. What a shame!”
Eventually, a few well-intentioned bystanders learned of my wife’s plight. Suddenly and without warning, they grabbed our bags. They took Darlene by the arm. They propped open doors. And in less time than it took us to say “I do,” they ushered my new wife across the threshold . . . without me.
She still talks about the fear and panic that set in immediately as all of those people, some she had just met, some who were total strangers, began swarming her and taking our things. The flurry of good intentions left her disoriented and scared.
Almost 18 days ago . . .
. . . I heard a word that changed my life forever. The word was “cancer,” and it came from the girl I love as she suddenly wondered about the rest of her life. So began the anxious moments. But this time, I found myself standing at the threshold. It was my job to get Darlene, along with our children, along with everything in our lives, through that door despite the huge obstacle in our way. There were so many things I was responsible for. And so I waited . . . and waited. I stood there not knowing what to do next.
That’s when it happened. The people around me began picking up my stuff. They began taking me by the arm and ushering me forward. But wait! I don’t want to go through that door. I’m not ready. Put my stuff down. I can carry it. I just need time to figure this thing out first.
Fear and panic set in as all these people began swarming me and carrying my things. The flurry of good intentions left me disoriented and scared. That lasted a couple of days. That’s how long it took me to realize how to do what only I could do. So I reached out and took my wife by the hand. And with the help of our family and friends, we’re now walking across that threshold – together.
This is a special note of thanks to all those who have suddenly grabbed a bag or gathered a gown or opened a door. There are so many of you. And you are so good – so God. Thank you for loving us during this time. I can’t say that it’s easy to let you do these things. But this is simply a journey we can’t take alone. We love you.