I remember when finals were over and I stood there in the empty dorm room that the room mate and I had shared. I was attentive and mindful to the rush of emotions of the previous few years playing out in my head and how I had actually arrived at this moment. I knew my life would change; it already had. I was planning to come right back in January for the next quarter. I would just be commuting to campus from our apartment in Savannah.
I remember silently asking God to protect me in whatever was coming. I just didn't know how important that prayer would become or how often I would pray those words.
I gently closed the door of that dorm room and left for the final time.
His parents had a rather large family that flew and drove in for the wedding from different parts of the country - mostly Naples, Florida, Boston, and Louisiana. I instantly loved his uncle from Louisiana. I can still remember so vividly him calling me over to the side, wrapping his big strong arms around me and telling me, "Don't you let this group roll over your or intimidate you. You stand up to them. They're a bunch of fucking nuts but their love and family loyalty runs deep and now you are a part of that. Learn to stand up for yourself, honey. And if you need anything, you call your Uncle E." That was the only acknowledgment or welcome that I ever received into that family and I clung to it like a toddler's security blanket. Uncle E died last year and when I learned of his death, I sat in the floor sobbing for the loss of so much of a man that I dearly loved and who, in my quiet time of need, had reached out to me and propped me up. I believe that he is the only one of that family who understood the capacity of an emotionally healthy kind of love. The next few years would peel back layers of discovery something similar to a bitter onion where that family is concerned and through it all, I continued to value Uncle E.
The wedding rehearsal was a collection of memories for the record book. The pastor was sleeping with my roommate and she had every expectation that once he divorced his estranged wife, that they would be married just like me and The Bouncer - except with out the pregnancy - cause she never wanted kids. He was trying to keep everything light and humorous because of the cloud of stress in the air. It is interesting in bringing all these memories back up to the surface that I haven't been able to recall one thing that involved my late sister or younger sister. I know they were there because they are in the pictures but I don't recall any situations or stories that involved them. Hmm.
The rehearsal dinner was lovely - no kidding. The Bouncer's mother and father, who I used to refer to as B&B (bitch and bastard), really outdid themselves. Their entire out of town family clan was included and I was having a great time. There must have been over 50 people there if you count the 10 from our family and the wedding party. The food was fabulous and the evening seemed to lighten up with the open bar (not me) and our father's were actually talking and being cordial.
I can't remember where I slept that night. I just remember being in the parsonage the next day fixing my makeup in front of the mirror in the back bathroom. I remember looking in that mirror and seeing my reflection and wondering if I was making the right choice. The previous week, The Bouncer had been let go from his UPS Management position. It wasn't until 10 years later that I learned it was for falsifying a document for an overnight shipment at the airport. He wasn't without a J-O-B because his father was able to get him a position where he worked almost immediately. In hindsight, I should have been asking better questions and really paying attention to the answers but I was so caught up in the notion of everything before me that I was unable to see the forest for the trees.
My mornings would be reserved for acute vomiting and then by lunchtime, I'd feel like a million bucks. I was going to be Mrs. Bouncer in a few days and I was under the delusion that my life was going to be filled with The Bouncer drinking my bath water (as he like to tell everyone that was how much he loved me) and making great grades in school while playing house and growing a baby and preparing to be a mommy.
Standing in that bathroom, I recall the wife of my mother's brother standing there looking at me and tears streaming down her face. I hadn't the foggiest idea why she was so emotional. She had the perfect life (or so it seemed) with a young daughter and son, a husband who made lots of money and a beautiful home exceptionally decorated to the hilt..... years later I was able to realize just how empty her spirit was when she shared with me that she had been so emotional because my life held so much promise of young love and hers was so empty. She was grieving for what she wanted but what she no longer held. I can close my eyes right now and feel her touching my hand and saying to me, "Don't ever forget the love that you feel for him this very minute. There will be days when you will have to dig deep to bring it to the surface and you'll need to bring it forward to survive tough days ahead. Don't ever forget what you feel this very day."
And then she dropped my hand, dabbed both our tears, kissed me on the cheek and closed the door as she left the room.