Our Story Begins:
Pictures in a Book
Like a lot of Sundays in our home the day was filled with chores. The vacuuming and the dishes; the laundry and the beds; sinks and toilets; the dusting was the biggest chore. I handed a lot of that off to one of my twin sons, Sam, while Noah, his brother, folded and put away the laundry that had piled up in the wash room.
Like so many other things, I’d held off cleaning my room for a very long time. Dust bunnies gathered under my bed. The armoire in the corner of the room was filled with dust, too. No wonder I had so many allergies.
I found the leather-bound book in a back part of the cabinet. I’d actually forgotten I’d even put it there. My son walked into the room as I was wiping the dust off the leather and the brass binding on the back.
“What’s that,” my son asked. It was the last of the chores, at least for me, and I looked at him and said “come on downstairs, I’ll show you.”
The three kids had gathered on either side of me and I opened the book.
“Wait,” says Noah, “why does it say “Our Wedding?””
“Because that’s what it is,” I tell him. “There’s your Mom before the wedding,” I tell them, showing them a photo just of her in the church
I had to agree. My late wife, Andrea, was a lot of things. Beautiful was certainly one of them. Sure, by 2014 standards the dress may seem a little dated, but it didn’t matter. Gorgeous is gorgeous, I have to say, and Andrea certainly fit into that category.
They spot me in a tuxedo, white tie, whole nine yards, and my son says “you look just like Grandpa there!”
“You mean him,” I say, pointing out my Mom and Dad on the page. “Yeah! See?! I mean, you’re a little lighter skinned but you look a lot like him. Especially there.”
We come to pictures of the reception and they ask why it looks like I’m shoving cake down their Mom’s throat.
“That’s just a bad photo,” I tell them. “Your Mom was the one who did that. She spent weeks informing how much trouble I would be in if I smeared the cake on her face.” We’d made a deal not to do it.
Hannah looked at me quizzically, asking “so did you listen to her?”
I look over my glasses at her and inform her that nobody ignores the wishes of the bride on her wedding day, not if they want to survive to be married.
What I don’t have the heart to tell them is how I reacted to that moment. I always joked “if you can survive planning a wedding the marriage can’t be nearly as hard.” I was right in a way. This was terribly stressful. Andrea and her bridesmaids were late to the church. For about two hours we’d lost the wedding rings. The photographer was just not that great.
So when Andrea had done exactly what we’d said we wouldn’t do I got fairly resentful. Not enough to hate the rest of my wedding, but certainly enough to feel that twinge when I saw the photos.
But I don’t tell my kids that part. In reality, I wish I’d just stood back and enjoyed that day for the entire thing. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but sitting with my kids I realized what a great day this was.
Before now looking at this book of photos probably wouldn’t have even been an option. Noah still hasn’t faced all his grief. The other two don’t want to talk too much about their Mom.
But today we sit and look through these photos and I tell them every story, from my brother and I singing Andrea a song I wrote for her right down to explaining why the one picture removed was taken out because it contained a picture of Andrea’s sister with an ex-boyfriend. We laughed at how their Mom wanted such a huge wedding party they ran out of purple bridesmaid cloth for the dresses and we had to buy another color for one of them.
My brothers look so young, one of the kids notes, but then so did I.
Still, it was a wonderful thing to look at this book of photos and walk my kids through that day. It made me smile not only to show them that we had a wedding day but that we had a really fun wedding day. It also was great to see them look at their mom and hear them say out loud “she was gorgeous.”
Because after all, she really was.