(9th in a series)
Chris had another bombshell to drop on me. “Honey, can we get married in three weeks?” I bravely replied, “Sure, but why do you want to get married so soon?”
Chris said, “The oncologist said that my hair will start falling out from the radiation treatments. So, we only have three to four weeks before that happens, and I’d really like to have some nice wedding photos.”
I replied, “Of course we can get married in three weeks. Let me handle everything.” Chris had so much on her plate anyway with the radiation treatments and the fatigue that they caused that I knew she wouldn’t have much energy to do wedding venue research.
As we sat on the couch in our living room, I opened up the laptop computer and started researching locations. Knowing that the Outer Banks (OBX) was one of Chris’s favorite travel destinations, I found the perfect location. It was a New England style bed and breakfast just across the street from the beach in Kill Devil Hills, NC. I called and spoke with the innkeeper. She said that she had an all-inclusive package. I shared my recommendation with Chris, and she was thrilled.
In the midst of all of the excitement, I reminded myself that we were getting married because Chris needed health insurance. Without a good paying job with good benefits that I had at the ad agency, I wouldn’t have been able to offer that health insurance coverage to her. My job at Eric Mower and Associates also helped to put a roof over our head each month and food on our table, something that I didn’t take for granted.
Chris had all but given up on her career, finally accepting that cancer had taken that away from her. Her career in interior design and office furniture sales had been so rewarding over the years, and not just financially. Chris had found real fulfillment in the career path that she had chosen as a young girl.
We both had given so much to the companies that we had worked for – married to our jobs, so to speak. But now we were going to finally be married to each other, which would be a whole new experience.
The next few weeks passed quickly. We shopped for the wedding rings and a sundress for Chris, and we were able to find just what we wanted without much effort. I decided that I would wear Bermuda shorts and a linen shirt.
I wrapped up things at work on Monday, the day before we left for the OBX, knowing that my boss would have things well in hand in my absence. Gene always had things under control anytime that I was away from the office to take care of Chris during her battle with cancer. But now, he would also have things covered while I was at the beach getting married to Chris. His support through the years was invaluable, and any employee would have been lucky to have him as a supervisor.
The next morning, a Tuesday, we packed up our Saab convertible and drove six hours to the beach. We checked in at the inn, exhausted from our long day on the road. On Wednesday morning, we found some nice floral arrangements at a florist shop just up the beach highway in Kitty Hawk. That afternoon, we met with the minister that would be performing our ceremony.
Thursday was a flurry of activity. The ceremony was scheduled for 6:00pm. The photographer would be arriving at 5:00pm to take some pre-ceremony photos, so we needed to get everything set up for the ceremony, which we planned to have on the beach. However, the weather did not cooperate with us that day. Although it was sunny, temperatures were in the mid-50s and the winds were gusting up to 20 miles per hour. We didn’t have a back-up plan, so our innkeeper suggested that we could use the back yard at the inn, decorating the patio area and pergola with tulle, lights, and flowers. Chris, her mom, and the innkeeper all set to work on the decorations, and I moved some flower planters from the front porch to the back yard.
Around 4:00pm, Chris and I took a short rest break in our room, gathering our thoughts and calming our nerves. We showered and got dressed for the wedding. Chris styled her hair and put a modest amount of makeup on. She was so beautiful, and I felt like the luckiest man alive. We went downstairs. Chris’s dad and stepmom had picked up the flowers for us at the florist, saving us a trip up the beach highway.
It was finally 6:00pm. It was time for us to be married. We walked out to the back yard. Due to the cool winds, Chris had draped a cashmere shawl over her shoulders. It was a cornflower yellow color, and it looked perfect with her sundress. At the decorated pergola, the minister and the photographer were waiting for us. As we shivered in the cold, and with Chris’s mom, dad, stepmom, and our innkeeper looking on, the minister asked us to exchange our vows. I took Chris’s hands in mine and we each spoke the words that would bind us in marriage.
Chris was both nervous and cold, and her teeth were chattering. I was cold too, and yet somehow, the words warmed me from the inside. Chris and I exchanged rings next. Her left hand trembled as I slid her ring onto her finger, and my left hand felt unsteady as she placed my ring onto my finger.
With vows and rings exchanged, the minister pronounced us husband and wife. Embracing my shivering bride, we sweetly kissed. After many years together, Chris and I had finally tied the knot, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life.