“But it was too late to think of turning back now.
He crossed the river on the ice and walked up to the house.
C.S.Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
It would a beautiful cake. Frosting flowers were replaced by real flowers pressed in with tiny water flasks entwined with the ribbon roses we had woven for the boutonnieres and corsages. Rising on pillars around a blue water fountain, the blooms would swirl up two layers to the pièce de résistance – a spun glass harp, a symbol of music and the faith we shared, with actual glass strings delicately spanning its frame. More pillars surrounded this fragile treasure. Then crowning it all was the the first anniversary cake twined with the same flowers and topped with a bouquet.
When my mother told me about the creation her friend was making as a gift to us, I was intimidated by the thought. I had ideas of what I wanted – a simple wedding, a white dress and wreath of flowers, at the most an angle log with holes drilled along its length to hold flowers.
My fiancé happened to have a matching suit with his best friend they could both use so I would have only a maid-of-honour to avoid any need to rent tuxes. Other friends could handle the guest book and other small honored responsibilities for the wedding and reception. His brother and another friend who would be coming would be the ushers. My youngest brother would be the ring bearer and my oldest niece the flower girl. It would be a celebration of people without all the extras.
From wedding dress, to flowers, to candelabras and on, the details of my plans would slowly be replaced by the decisions of others as the young woman I was did her best to show love to her family by accepting their gifts and offerings that came with often blatantly spoken words reflecting hurt feelings if I said no.
I had even buried the dream of happily-ever-after by the time the day arrived. This man was the man my parents would have chosen for me. The day, only a month or so before, when I had told him that I didn’t think it was working he had responded with, “Then you get to tell the people at the surprise shower at my mom’s house that we have to go to this evening.” The me who believed I mattered wasn’t strong enough to hold on to what I felt to be true.
Once more, I was letting everyone down. I was not grateful enough, patient enough, loving enough, loyal enough. I was not enough. I shut my disquiet away in the closets of shamed ones and moved forward, easily giving up piece after piece of a young girl’s wedding dream, because I had shut off this young woman with dreams for her life as one more piece to be shamed.
We moved to his town after the ceremony. At the wedding dinner with family and people from the church that would be ours for the years we lived there, his pastor brother would tell a joke about a man who had to choose between a beautiful woman and one that could sing. The joke would finish with the line about him choosing the one who could sing and then waking in the morning, looking at his wife and saying, “Sing to me. Sing to me.” Would they know how it felt when the next sentence was, “And now Andie has a song to share with us”?
On our first anniversary we would share the top anniversary cake with his family after keeping it frozen for that year. There would be a piñata for the nieces and nephews who would be my lifeline for the years I lived there failing to measure up to his or his family’s standards. Our 2 month old son would be there for that anniversary. It would be a time that I hoped for it to get better.
Three years later we would move to a small city in Alberta where my husband would pastor his first church. I would pack that trailer tight since everything that represented our lives as a family, everything that held memories had to fill it. All other space would belong to the unsorted tools and miscellanea from his garage.
The blown glass harp would be carefully wrapped and packaged to make this next journey with us. All my hopes of being able to begin something new in our family once we were free of his family’s judgments would be packed into the tin with its fragile structure.
On arriving, we would unpack everything into the basement of the house that would soon be our first home there. Those helping us would remark at how expertly every ounce of space was used to carry our belongings. Things often broken in travel would be exclaimed over for how well they made the journey.
We would stay with an elderly family from the church for our first week or so there. Finally the day we could move into our house would arrive and the boxes and containers began to be unpacked.
The only casualty of the move would be the spun glass harp.