Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Dress

I found her out in the barn, 20 minutes or so before the wedding was to start. She was still in her jeans, but she'd had her shower. She said, "Is it that late already?"

I said, "My only rule is that we begin when the bride is ready. And since you're the bride, we will wait."

She looked at me and I saw a flicker of desperation go across her face. I asked, "Are you nervous?"

She said, "Not about marrying John. We've been together 22 years and we have grandkids."

I prompted her, "What is it?"

She said, "It's that damn dress. My grandmother and mother have lost their minds."

"How bad can it be?" I asked.

"Have you seen it?" she asked me. "It's huge. I'm 42 years old. I raise horses. I'm getting married in a double-wide. There's not going to be room for the dress, and I don't know if I am strong enough to move in it."

I coaxed her out of the barn with a vague promise to get her through, no matter what it took. The groom, John, watched us walk towards the porch. "Brenda," he said, "I think you'd best wrestle into that dress. They're all waiting."

She nodded her head, and went inside. I followed her, and there it was. The Dress. It was hanging from a door, and its skirt seemed to reach for several feet. The sleeves were lace, and the skirt had ruffles from the waist to the hem. Brenda looked at me as if to say, "See what I mean?"

Her mother and grandmother sat in the living room, their eyes shining with pride. I soon learned that they had bought the dress years before for Brenda in the fond hope that the day would come that she would be a bride, even if it came after she was a mother and a grandmother herself. So, now that the day had in fact come, they were resolute that it was going to include The Dress.

I said to Brenda, "Put it on, and we will figure out how to navigate the double-wide."

In a few minutes, she called for me to come retrieve her, and we maneuvered her into the hallway of the mobile home. Her mother and grandmother gasped in delight. "Brenda, you look beautiful," they said. John quite wisely said nothing, and just smiled.

Brenda walked sort of sideways down the hallway of the double-wide, and we guided her to a corner of the living room where an archway filled with handmade paper flowers awaited. John stood quietly, and a little boy with a clip on tie said to me, "My mimi and papa are getting married."

"I know," I told him. "I'm the minister." And then we began.

Brenda's mother and grandmother signed the marriage license, and in an hour or so Brenda and The Dress had arrived safely into the realm of matrimony.

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