(Our Wedding Day: April 5, 2014, First Church of the Nazarene, Kankakee, Illinois)

On the morning of April 5, 1986, I was just about as nervous as a fellow could possibly be without having to call a doctor or look for a fresh change of clothing. How I managed to keep from falling into a dead faint is something I still am unable to fully comprehend these 28 years after the fact. 

In a few short hours I would be getting married. That in itself would have been enough to induce the uncontrollable shaking that had caused me to spill my morning bowl of Cap’n Crunch all over the kitchen floor of the apartment that would soon be transformed from my Fortress of Solitude to our den of domestic bliss. To be fair, it wasn’t the fact that I was finally getting married that was threatening to turn me into a quivering mass of protoplasm; I’d known I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Melissa since not long after we’d started dating in high school eight years earlier. And she, dear girl, had felt the same way for just as long.  A lot of our married friends - many of whom had started dating long after we did, and had gotten hitched and ended up with their houses and cars and 2.5 kids in far less time than it took for us to finally reach the altar – wondered why we waited so long. We had our reasons; but believe me, if I’d had MY way...

No, what had me scared that sunny Saturday morning in April was the very real fear that, when the minister got to the part of the ceremony when he asked that anyone who objected to the marriage speak now or forever hold their peace, a certain soon-to-be in-law would seize the opportunity to rush up to the front of the church and filibuster the proceedings by reciting a laundry list of all the reasons she believed the union was an affront to life, the universe and everything she held dear. 

Ultimately the in-law in question behaved and kept her lengthy compilation of complaints to herself. That day, anyway. I would be far less fortunate in the future, of course, but that’s okay. It comes with the territory, I suppose. And besides, that’s a story for another time...

The ceremony went off pretty much without a hitch; the only hiccup, and it was a minor one, occurred early on when the photographer asked our mothers and the groomsmen who escorted them down the aisle to go back and start over because his camera had jammed and he hadn’t gotten their pictures. Even with that delay the entire ceremony lasted a mere 13 minutes, which the last I heard was still a record for wedding brevity at the church we were attending at the time. Tom Slezak, an Air Force buddy of mine whom I’d met when we were stationed together over in Greece and who had returned to the States to serve as one of my groomsmen, would later comment at the reception dinner that the ceremony seemed rather anticlimactic considering how long it had taken us to get there. At the time I laughed and told him he had a point. 

In retrospect, however, I realize that those 13 minutes represented not the end of a journey, but the start of one. In some ways it was like the opening sequences in those old James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, in which one adventure is shown coming to a conclusion and the hero quickly finds himself setting off on another one. 

In our case it is an adventure that is still unfolding every day. Some days are a little more exciting than others, of course, but that’s okay. That, too, comes with the territory. And besides, we can both use the occasional breather.

The one thing I do know, even after all these years, is that there is nobody else I would ever want to share that adventure with. 

Happy anniversary, sweetheart.

(Copyright © 2014, by John A. Small)