Thirteen years ago August 14th was a Saturday, and it came during one of the driest summers on record in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There had been no measurable rainfall for months. Brittle grass crunched under foot like fall leaves. On that day, a young man dressed in a tuxedo stood in a garage.
During the previous week the young man’s aunt had canvassed the surrounding farms, asking them to please not spread manure in the days leading up to the wedding. At night, when no one could see, she defied the local restrictions and watered her flowers. There was going to be a wedding in her back yard. The grass might be scorched, but her flower gardens would at least be presentable.
But at that moment, as the young man stood quietly in the neighboring garage with his best man and ushers and groomsmen, his aunt was in the house with the bride who watched as the guests began to arrive, followed by dark clouds and an uncharacteristically cool breeze that tugged at the table cloths, billowed out the side of the tent, and whipped the leaves of the trees into a thunderous applause.
Then huge drops fell, and the guests who had received an invitation (unlike the storm) ran for the cover of the reception tent or one of the surrounding gazebos. And the bride wept that of all the Saturdays that summer, the rain had decided to come on that one.
They waited ten minutes after the scheduled start time, then twenty. The two mothers consoled one another. The fathers paced. The groom was the only one who didn’t seem to care.
“I’m getting married today,” he said, shrugging. “That’s all that matters to me.”
Then the same fierce wind pushed the clouds past. The sun shone on everything, glistening off the water. The ushers rushed from seat to seat, drying them with fluffy white towels and then seating people. The musicians tuned their instruments again. The guests were seated but their surprise at the sudden weather change sent a murmuring through the crowd.
Smiles all around. The rain had brought with it not only a refreshing coolness but a sense of promise.
The only hitch in the ceremony: a fly drowning in the communion cup. “This life…” Well, there was another hitch, one that would not be discovered for a few weeks, when the couple sat down with the photographer who tried to explain how the camera she had used hadn’t worked, the film was irretrievably damaged, and none of the pictures could be salvaged.
The crowd stayed long into the night, dancing under the glowing gazebo. Eventually their friends evaporated into the shadows, and soon they were saying good-bye to their parents, climbing into an old car and driving away.
* * * * *
August 13th, 2012. The guy who was the groom that day leans across a tiny table towards the girl who was the bride.
“Tomorrow, 13 years,” he says smiling.
“I guess it was a good decision,” she says coyly, looking at him out of the corner of her eye.
In the neighboring room, their two youngest children whisper and get out of bed and cause all kinds of chaos, like a summer storm. Upstairs the older two read and become sleepy.
Maile, I mentioned this quote on your birthday, but it seems more applicable in light of our wedding story:
“Being soaked alone is cold. Being soaked with your best friend is an adventure.” ― Emily Wing
Sometimes it feels like we’re getting soaked, but at least we’re doing it together. Happy Anniversary, beautiful co-adventurer.