Friday, August 19, 2011

From Where I Sat: For Posterity

I've been told that I embellish stories. Like earlier this week when I told someone that GK is deathly afraid of being bored, and so he takes four books to the grocery store. It was an exaggeration-- though not by much.

But the story of our wedding needs no additional flourishes. It was a work of art. Or a piece or work. Or a little of both.

But first a little background:

We'd met by a modern miracle-- the online internet machine (one we don't recommend without a fair word of caution). We'd lived in Provo at the same time for several years. We attended the same concerts and lectures and plays. I acted in plays with his roommate, he hung out with my friends from the dance program. The circles intersected in a million ways, and yet, we never met.

While I was in graduate school in Denver, my brother Andrew thought I wasn't being social enough (well really, he just didn't like my last boyfriend) and he told me I should check out LDS Linkup. It really was more like a Mormon Facebook anyway, not just a "dating service".

One night, while babysitting for a friend, I got online after her kids were asleep and set up a profile. No picture, no real details, just enough to have access to the site. I began scrolling through pictures of profiles. I may have opened a couple of them just out of curiosity, but I only sent one message. To GK.

I wrote something like:
I've never done this before, but it looks like you like cool music...

And then more than slightly embarrassed, I logged off and thought, "That was weird". To my surprise, GK responded (just to be kind) and said:
Don't worry about it we're all on here. 

In my next email, I mentioned Faria Beach, my only real exposure California. As it happens, he had grown up surfing there, and had actually been there that morning.

And that's just the way it seemed to go. One conversation led naturally to the next, and our connection and curiosity grew stronger and more committed. Emails turned to phone calls turned to a decision to meet face to face. That's when he planned his trip to Denver.

We hadn't known each other long before we knew we'd like to know each other longer. I'd say it took about an hour- or less. We had two days together that weekend. Living in different states, we began to plan the summer so we could live in the same city and get to know each other a little.

Well a little time and many hours on the phone passed, we saw each other for the second time. This time involved roses and a ring on a cliff overlooking the ocean at Point Dume in Malibu. We knew it was fast, and to many seemed reckless, but ironically it felt settled, and deliberate.

Our third meeting face to face was when GK came to Denver to move me and my things to Santa Clarita for the summer. By then, it felt as if we had known each other forever. And yet, it was that deep familiarity that sometimes brought confusion, because in reality we were still strangers.

The week leading up to our wedding we spent with my family in Salt Lake. We worked on the yard, where the reception would be, GK did some work for his uncle, I worked on last minute details with my mom. And as the week progressed, GK began to get nervous. I'll let him describe his thought process and how the whole thing developed, but by the morning of our wedding he was a mess.

I could tell, by the tone of his voice, when I talked to him on the phone that morning that he was unsettled. I hoped that meeting him in the lobby of the temple would resolve it. But as he took my hand, nothing changed.

We separated and got into our wedding clothes. We sat together and spoke with the man who would officiate the wedding while our families gathered in the Sealing Room next door. When everyone had arrived and was seated, we entered the small room filled with immediate family and close friends, and knelt down at the altar facing each other. There's no procession or fanfare in a temple sealing. It's just simple and to the point.

The room was situated so that if I looked beyond GK, all my family and friends sat watching and smiling. And his family sat behind me. Having spent the summer in California, much of my family had only met GK a couple of times. Some had expressed concern at the rapidity of things, but ultimately had given their support.

We knelt, holding hands across the altar and the sweet old man began the ceremony. He came to the part where GK is supposed to respond, and there was a pause. I looked at GK, he looked at me and just waited. The silence was long and after a few moments, the sealer said, "Do you need to take a minute outside in the hall?"

GK let out a huge sigh, "Yes," and he bolted from the room. Bolted. I stayed where I was, looking into the faces of my family, knowing they were concerned and probably a little confused. My brother Andrew admitted later that he was thinking through a contingency plan. He decided, "We'll still have the party, we'll just change the playlist."

For some reason, I didn't feel any panic. It didn't seem strange or scary. I didn't wonder if he'd come back. In the relatively short time I'd known him, I knew that GK was a man of integrity. I knew that he took his promises and commitments very seriously, and I knew that marriage to me was the biggest one he'd ever made.

I let GK have a quiet moment in the hall. (Well, quiet except for the cute old ladies working at the temple who brought him soda crackers and apple juice, thinking he had just forgotten to eat.) Then, I went out to join him. I held his hand and just waited.  My respiratory therapist-cousin came out and kindly told GK that if he kept breathing like he was, he would pass out. He followed her advice, and after a few more moments, he looked at me and said, "Okay, let's do this," and he stood up and led me back into the room.

The old man started the ceremony again from the beginning. When he reached the same point, GK answered the question and dropped his head to the altar with a deep sigh of relief that the whole group, no doubt, felt. I held onto his hand and answered as well, knowing that from that moment on, we were bound together forever.

As a child, as I had imagined my wedding, I thought of movies I'd seen. I imagined gazing into my husband's eyes. I imagined swelling music, and weepy ladies with gloves and flowered hats. But movies rarely capture the fullness of reality. They certainly couldn't capture the richness of my life now.

So much has happened over the past five years. We've lived three lifetimes, and weathered our share of heartache. Three children, three states, two masters' degrees, five hospital stays later, that moment of decision, when we both said yes to this life, set the stage for miracle after miracle.

Who knows if every year of our life together will be as full of change and experience as each of the first five has been. But I wouldn't have it any other way as long as I can share it all with my best friend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Happy birthday lady! You've accomplished a lot this year. Don't worry, you can slow down whenever you're ready.

Perhaps it's having my own babies, that makes me realize how lucky I am to have such a kind-hearted, creative, spunky, tender mama. Cause I'm starting to realize it's a tricky business.

I love you. I'm glad to be yours.