Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thankful He Showed Up
James and I had been told to arrive at the temple one hour before our ten o'clock ceremony. I remember my heart raced in my chest as my dad pulled the family van into the temple parking lot, a couple of minutes before nine. Butterflies flitted around in my stomach as I walked to the front doors with my parents. I was nervous and excited, anticipating the events of the day and the start of my new life as Mrs. James McDaniel.
James had not yet arrived, so I was asked if I'd like to wait for him in the foyer. I sat down in a chair, nervously rubbed my sweaty palms across my skirt, and waited.
Ten minutes went by. An elderly woman, a temple worker with perfectly coiffed hair as white as her dress, approached me. "Is the groom here yet?", she asked.
"No," I replied, and managed a smile. She patted my shoulder and left.
Ten more minutes went by. I heard my mother whisper, "Do you think we should call him?" My dad stood up and took his cell phone out of his suit pocket. The white-haired temple worker who had inquired about James, returned to my side.
"Still waiting for your beau?", she asked, gently. I nodded. It felt as though my throat had turned to sandpaper. I could fill tears welling up behind my eyes, threatening to gush down my cheeks. I held them back, like a dam stopping the flow of a river. I was desperate to keep the dam from breaking. I was the bride. I was not going to cry. I was not going to ruin my "wedding day makeup."
The temple worker asked, "What does he look like?" I was barely able to choke out the word, "Tall." Before she left she said, "I am going to watch for him."
Madness! My dad was using his cell phone to call James! A man behind the desk at the entrance to the temple, used a phone to call the McDaniel's home number. The kind, elderly woman who had asked about James, enlisted the help of another temple worker to "stand watch" by the front doors. (All they knew was to watch for a "young man" who was "tall.") My mom was trying to offer me words of comfort. More minutes ticked by! My dad said he'd wait and watch for James outside. A male temple worker offered to go with him. Our guests were starting to show up; perplexed expressions on their faces when they saw me in the foyer AND with no groom! A man I did not know, sitting across from me, gave me a dewy-eyed smile that seemed to say, "Oh you poor thing. I feel so sorry for you." I refused to hold his gaze for fear I would leap out of my chair, dive across the sitting area, and punch him in the head! I was trying to keep it together--staring at my hands clasped in my lap, refusing to look at or talk to anyone, frantically trying to swallow the lump in my throat.
James walked in. And the room lit up. His clean-shaven cheeks were slightly flushed from his dash into the building. He looked beautiful. I watched as his dark brown eyes searched for me, for my face. When our gazes finally met across the crowd, I saw an apology in his eyes. I saw love there, too.
The details that would explain why James was late are not important. It was unintentional, obviously, and he felt bad about it. I could have let myself wallow in all the emotions an ordeal like that would provoke--anger, fear, pain, frustration. I could have taken a simple misunderstanding and let it "rain on my parade." I didn't. Instead, I held James' hand, looked at his face, and thought, "I'm thankful he showed up."
There have been many unforgettable moments since then; moments as numerous as the blades of grass in a field, moments when I've thought the same thing I thought on our wedding day: "I'm thankful he showed up." Every time he takes my hand, or touches the small of my back, I'm thankful he showed up. Every time he laughs at my stupid jokes or silly stories, I'm thankful he showed up. Every holiday. Every birthday. Every kiss. Every baby blessing, and every funeral. Every time I hear his key unlock the front door. Every time he smiles at me, I'm thankful he showed up. Every time he offers me his handkerchief and a shoulder to cry on, I'm thankful he showed up. The birth of our children, college graduations, good days and bad days. Every movie date, every thoughtful gift, every card containing his sweet sentiments for me--I'm thankful he showed up. The times we've moved, the times we've been sick, the times we've been scared. The stressful times. The joyful times. Every argument, and every lesson in forgiveness.
Every moment. Every day. I'm thankful he showed up.