The last-minute hassles. Are theirs any different?
|Chapter 12 - Wedding Day Preparations
The morning of the wedding was a mixed blessing. Pastor Markham had called from the church, saying everything was going smoothly and he was looking forward to seeing them. That helped both Erick and Crystal to relax. All the mandatory pieces were now in place.
Erick’s aunt Freda, however, brought their first disappointment of the day. She called shortly after Pastor Markham, and informed Erick that she would not be attending the wedding because of her feeling that he was “robbing the cradle” and that she just could not condone that. Erick’s disappointment was obvious as he hung up the phone, and told Crystal the news.
”Missing the wedding is one thing,” he said, obviously down. “But I never would have thought it would be for that reason. I never thought she had any kind of prejudice in her. I never saw a hint of it as I grew up.”
”I know, honey,” Crystal said, hugging him from her wheelchair. “But remember, my love, we talked a lot about this, didn’t we?”
”Yes, we did,” he said, his mind going back in time to conversations they’d had in recent weeks.
”Now you tell me, darling. What did we finally decide?” she asked, laughing. She relaxed as she saw his face turn warm with a smile as he looked at her.
”We decided they’re entitled to their opinion, but we’re entitled to the life we want just the same.” He leaned down and kissed her. “Thanks, honey. I needed that loving reminder.”
An hour later, about 10:30 AM, Crystal’s Aunt Nell called, bowing out for the same reason. And that meant Nell and Uncle Marvin’s two kids, Jeff and Amy, two of Crystal’s favorite cousins, wouldn’t be there either. Now it was Erick’s turn to do the comforting as they started getting ready for the ceremony.
”Honey, I can’t resist the chance to tell you that I noticed the shoe’s on the other foot now,” he said, softly, and smiling. He hoped the humor would help.
”God, that’s bad, Erick!” she shouted as he began laughing out loud. Erick smiled as he saw all her frustration and disappointment leave her in one rush of feeling as she laughed openly. Once she got herself back under control, she turned to him and motioned for him to lean over. Crystal put her hand behind his head, pulled him down and planted a long, sensuous kiss on his lips. Releasing him, she said, “God, I love you, Erick! You knew I’d lose it on that because I’ve only GOT one foot. Didn’t you?” She grinned widely, still wrapped up in that thought.
”Yes, I did, honey,” he said lovingly. “And it worked.” He smiled again.
”Yes, it did, my love. Thanks. I needed that!” She looked at him with so much love in her eyes that he melted. “What the…?” she asked as Erick helped her to stand.
”Remember that morning in the airport when you ended up just having to hug me ‘the right way’ about three times?” he asked as he embraced her tightly.
”Yes, I do, honey, why?” she asked, her thoughts flying back to that day.
”Well, baby, now it’s my turn. I just have to hug you the right way right now. With everything we’ve been through this morning, we need this moment. Just for us.” Crystal pressed herself against him, and held him as tightly as her arm would let her, as they shared one of their most passionate kisses ever.
”God, I love you, Erick!”
”C’mon, darling,” he said, carrying her to the bed. “Let’s get dressed so we can start the rest of our life in real style,“ he laughed.
”I’m with you, sweetheart,” she said.
”Now I’LL say it, love,” he laughed. “That’s bad, Crystal!”
”Why?” she asked, laughing with him but not knowing why.
”Because you better be with me. It’ll be a lot easier to get married if we’re in the same place, you know.” They laughed together then got down to the task of getting both of them dressed for the biggest event of their life.
Crystal had to chuckle a few times as she watched Erick struggle with some of the extra clothing that was part of her wedding dress. The pantyhose were one thing. He’d dealt with those once before, so this time was just a little easier. But things like the extra slip, and that old-fashioned apparel Crystal wanted to wear beneath the dress, to make the skirt fill out in the old fashioned style, drove him crazy. But as always, their love brought them through the toughest moments, so this one wasn’t as bad as he’d thought it was going to be.
By the time he’d also gotten dressed, it was time to head to the church. As they headed for the door, she had Erick take her over to her mother, who sat in the living room. “I’ll see you and dad at the church in about an hour, okay, mom?” Crystal asked, trying to reassure both her mom and herself.
”We’ll be there, honey, don’t worry,” mom said. “We wouldn’t spoil this day for you for anything.”
”Thanks, mom,” Crystal said warmly. “I love you.” She leaned over and kissed her mom on the cheek.
”I love you, too, baby,” mom said softly.
As Erick wheeled her out the door, Crystal said, “Honey, I just wish mom would understand better about me needing you to do these things for me and not her. Even today I know she’s troubled that I had to have you with me. I couldn’t stand the idea of being kept from you just because it’s my wedding day. I wish she’d understand. I could tell by her voice that she’s still very disappointed.”
”I know, darling. And I don’t blame you for the fact that this bothers you, or for the way you feel. It bothers you because you love your mom, and that’s as it should be. And I certainly can’t blame you for the way you feel, because it IS your wedding day, and that’s the whole point - it’s YOUR wedding day. You should have everything just as you want it, and that’s what you’ve done here. You wanted me with you, and that’s what you got. Honey, if the rest of this day overall goes as smoothly as the morning has, think about it - your wedding day will be a huge success.”
Crystal thought a moment. “You’re right, honey, very right. Thanks, darling, I needed to hear that from you right now! I love you, sweetheart!” She reached back and patted his hand with hers.
”I love you, baby!” Erick exclaimed. That said, he picked her up and sat her in the truck, handed her her seat belt and got in the driver’s side. Just before he started the engine, Crystal put her hand on his arm.
”You just talked about my wedding day going smoothly, and I guess it’s all going normal, so far, too.” She laughed a little bit.
”What do you mean, baby?” he asked, puzzled but hearing her humor.
”Well,” she blushed, “I’m even getting very nervous even though we’ve been together for a while now, and I’m also concerned about you getting cold feet on me,” she laughed. “Don’t ask me why, but I am.”
Erick laughed softly, put his hand on hers, and gently played with her fingers as he talked. “Darling, you’re truly priceless, do you know that? And I love you all the more for it. Both of those feelings you have are perfectly normal. I would have been very surprised, and probably a bit worried if you had gone through this whole thing as cool as a cucumber. It’s right for you to be nervous, sweetheart. It’s a big step you’re taking in your life. It’s a big commitment, love. You wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t nervous.”
”Thanks, honey, I needed to hear that,” she said, her relief obvious. “But… what about my being worried about you getting cold feet?”
”That’s just as normal, honey, for any bride. Every couple gets a case of nerves on their wedding day.”
”You sure seem cool enough about all this, though,” she said openly.
”I’m the one-in-a-million exception, darling. I’ll be as nervous as you at the altar, yes. That’s normal. But not before. Why? Because I’ve been so deeply and totally in love with you, and devoted to you for three years, that this all feels normal to me. The way it should be going. The way it has been going in my head for three long years. I’m just reliving that story that’s in my head one scene at a time. So I’m relaxed right now.”
”God, Erick!” Crystal wailed as she began crying. “God, I love you!”
”You okay, baby?”
”I… couldn’t.. be happier,… honey.” She struggled to get the sobs under control, and finally succeeded. “I’m… just so overwhelmed right now. You mean you’ve been looking toward this day the whole three years we’ve known each other? ALL of it?”
”Honey,” he said, squeezing her hand, “I realized I was in love with you a week before I proposed to you online. And from the moment I knew how I felt, this day has been in my heart, in my life, and in my plans. For us.”
”But… the accident. Didn’t that…?”
”Never even gave it a thought, my love,” he said, cutting her off intentionally. “All I’ve ever cared about is the love we feel for each other. I didn’t even worry about what kind of rehab you need, how limited or not limited your self-sufficiency would be for a while, or any of it. I knew I could deal with anything that came our way as long as I had you by my side. And I‘ve done that, haven’t I?”
”God, Erick!” Crystal wailed as the tears started again. “There’s absolutely nothing I can say to that. Except to say thank you for loving me so very, very, much, especially when I have to be so dependent on you. Not many guys would want all the work you’ve gone through. God, I love you! I’m the luckiest girl in the world, and you just proved that to me beyond any doubt. I could never find anyone, especially my age, as wonderful as you. God, I love you!”
”I love you, too, darling. And um… I think you know how much I mean that now, don’t you?”
”God, yes, I do, Angel!” she squealed, squeezing his hand as the tears flowed.
Crystal had her eyes dry by the time they reached the church. Once inside, they headed right for the Sanctuary, where Pastor Markham had said to meet him.
”Good afternoon, you two,” Pastor Markham said as Erick wheeled Crystal down the aisle toward the altar where he was waiting.
”Good afternoon, Pastor,” they said together.
Pastor Markham walked Erick and Crystal through the sequence of events, positioning of the wedding party, and the timing. “One thing we didn’t cover at your house, Crystal,” Pastor Markham said, smiling. “We talked about how you were coming down the aisle, but how are you going back up?”
”You get one guess on that, Pastor,” Erick laughed.
”Hopping again, on your arm this time, right, Erick?” he laughed.
”How else?” Crystal chimed in, laughing with them.
”Okay, I think we’re set then. If you’ll come with me, I’ll show you where you wait, Crystal. Your mom and dad are already there. Then, Erick, I’ll show you where you and I will wait out your last 45 minutes as a single guy,” he laughed.
Once they’d left Crystal with her parents, Pastor Markham told Erick, “And don’t worry. That special thing you wanted is all arranged.”
A short while after they left the Sanctuary, the guests began arriving. As they all seated themselves with the help of the ushers, it was obvious Crystal’s guests outnumbered Erick’s by about 3 to 1. But that didn’t mean there weren’t going to be a few surprises.