The Preacher is a friend of hers and he agreed, after several months of pleading on her part, to officiate the wedding without going through the six months of marriage counseling required by his church. Her fiance refused to take part because he found it simply crazy that anyone would want to question their love. After all, “who are they to tell us whether or not we will make it.” He said time and time again.

sdgsdgsgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgsdgThe preacher begins to speak and the music fades into the distance. She focuses on the bible he holds in his hands. All her life she grew up in church, she knew that book in his hands better than she knew the man she was about to promise to spend the rest of her life with. She had to make these promises in front of her family and she had to make them to God himself. Her mind began to wander back to when she had first met this man. He was a strong, sweet, loving man. He did all the right things, all the things she had ever wanted a man to be. They spent hours upon hours talking about life and the future. They had become best friends, soul mates, she believed. He was always there for her, picking her up when she was down. Making her venture out of her comfort zone and try new things. He taught her some great southern cooking techniques. He took her fishing, paid for meals, and he was quite the gentleman. Somewhere along the way she lost that man and the man that stands before her today is an empty shell in comparison.

She stands there, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, afraid that she is making the worst decision of her life. Afraid that she will never find herself again. She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and silently says a prayer. She asks God to grant her the strength she needs to get through this day. She asks God to help her future husband, help him see that she loves him and misses the man he once was. She asks God to keep her safe.

Her fiance begins his vows, he has chosen his own words, they are sweet and touching to her heart. For a moment, she recognizes a man she knew years ago. She smiles and a single tear rolls down her cheek. She loves him. She hopes that some day she can be the woman he has always wanted. If she could just figure out a way to make him happy. If she could just be a better wife and give him everything he has always wanted. She would be happy to make him happy. If she could just be enough.

The preacher turns to her. It is her turn to say her vows. She begins speaking to the man that no longer exists. She pours out her heart and promises to love him in times of sickness and health. She promises to love him until “death do us part”. Those words ring in her ears. They have so much more meaning now. She has seen the fury and rage that lies beneath her lover’s eyes. She has heard the threats. She has felt the rushing blows to her back for simply not making dinner on time. She is frightened. She is numb. He smiles and gives her a look of approval. She has once again covered for him. She has once again given a piece of herself to hide the lies in his heart. He takes both of her hands, they exchange the rings. The preacher says his final words “I now pronounce you, husband and wife” and it is sealed with kiss. The gathered people clap and cheer as the newlyweds make their way down the isle. So many people, shadows lurking in the dark.

The reception begins with a nice barbeque in the backyard of their new home. She was blessed with the perfect April weather. It wasn’t too hot and the sun was shining. She couldn’t have picked a better date. She had always dreamt of getting married in a church and having a big beautiful wedding, but her husband had other views. He wanted a small get together, nothing fancy, after all it was just another day. She had managed to compromise with him, she would have the wedding at the house, but she wanted all her family together for the big day. Most of the family had shown up, including her uninvited step mother. Of course, she knew that her father wouldn’t show up without her.

People were lounging in camping chairs and on picnic tables. Kids were playing croquet, volleyball, and swinging on the tire swing. A few of her Uncles had gathered out by their vehicles, no doubt, having a few beers. She sat down at the picnic table amongst her mother’s family. Her uncle Mike soon followed and sat down beside her. She and her uncle Mike had always had a close relationship. She was able to talk sports with him and she was able to form a bond with him thru the St. Louis Cardinals. They talked about the last few seasons. He made mention that he hadn’t seen the groom much and that the groom should be with his lovely bride on their wedding day. She looked up, scanning the backyard. She hadn’t seen much of him herself. Where could he have wandered off to.

After finishing her plate of food, she excuses herself from the table. She searches the yard and there is no sign of him. She wanders into the house, stopping to thank her cousin for the most beautiful wedding cake. She doesn’t find him in the family room gathered around his family. She wanders down the hall to her bedroom and pauses at the door…