Fourteen years ago today I stood nervously at the front of Faith Baptist Church in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. This may come as a shock to those who have only come to know me since then, but I was sporting a reasonably full head of hair. Beside me stood my brother who had flown from Australia to be part of the day. This may come as a shock to those who have only come to know him since then, but he was sporting a pony tail. Next in line stood my friend Greg. I haven’t seen Greg for a while so can’t do a then and now comparison of his hair. At the end of the line was Doug, who would become my brother-in-law within the hour. I suspect his hair has thinned out a bit.
We stood together. Chatting. Laughing. Smiling at the people who sat looking at us while they waited for the real show stopper to arrive.
I was nervous.
I was excited.
I needed to use the bathroom.
Then the music started. It was a piece from the soundtrack to When a man loves a woman. The song had these perfect little sections for each of the bridal party to walk in on. We men gathered ourselves into a straight line and looked to the back of the church. My future nephew and niece walked towards us followed by two of my fiance’s best friends and her sister.
Then it happened.
The most beautiful girl I’d ever laid eyes on walked into the room with the intention of marrying me. Her dress was splendid but I could barely take my gaze away from her beaming smile and glowing eyes.
Slowly she came down the aisle, timing her steps to the music just like she had practiced. Beside her walked the man whose baby girl I planned to steal away half way around the world. I am eternally grateful for the support and blessing of my parents in law. Now I have a baby girl of my own I am beginning to recognise how painful it must have been.
I shook hands with Garfield, soon to be my father in law, and took his daughter on my arm.
To be honest, the ceremony is all a bit of a blur. I remember smiling a lot. My face hurt from the smiling.
At the reception, Canadians outnumbered Australians by about 25 to 1. They had a shorter commute.
The celebration was an emotional one. Loaded as it was with the knowledge that this union meant we would head back to Australia for an unknown number of years. At least fourteen years as it turns out.
On the next day we began a driving honeymoon to Boston. We saw amazing fall colours as we drove through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The trip had low points (a swarm of hornets as we ate peanut butter sandwiches in a park somewhere), and high points (everything else). We had little cash, but enough to get by. I think it was the best trip of my life.
The 14 years since has also had its low points and high points. There has been the odd swarm of hornets, but nothing we couldn’t handle together. My wife is as beautiful now as the day I first saw her playing volleyball on a grassy hill in Lilydale. We eventually managed to bring two little gems into the world, and we have had the most wonderful fourteen years together.
Happy anniversary J, and thanks for fourteen amazing years.