In the space between plans is where my most precious birthday gift came to me, wearing my ivory wedding gown and bare feet. The space between a sweaty, smiley Zumba Fitness class in the morning; homemade breakfast in our dining room, peering out the front window at the sunny January day; a spin on the Great Wheel that sits on one of the waterfront piers with a view of the ferry boats coming and going, the Space Needle and gleaming downtown buildings, the frosted wooden planks far below and the Olympic mountains across the water, giggling and kissing up high in our private gondola; and a late showing of Lincoln, a tub of popcorn between us.
I rummaged through the closet, looking for something else to put on, and my hands reached out to finger the plastic bag hanging in the back for over eight months now. My hands, ahead of my heart, carried the bag from the closet and laid it across our bed, unzipping it. A surge of memory coursed through, even back decades, to when I was a child and how it felt to uncover something precious, a piece of my mom's history. Like discovering treasure.
Before I could change my mind, the dress came off the hanger and hung gracefully at my feet, waiting for me to slip carefully inside. Several pounds of ivory, lace and silvery beads, covered my body with memory. I breathed a little sigh of relief, this snug thing still fits just so, and zipped it up the back. Right as he walked in.
The first time he saw me in this dress, I was probably thirty feet away, at the end of an aisle on the crook of my mom's arm. I limped down the church aisle in a walking boot that more than peeked out beneath my dress, masking the pain with a steady supply of prescription pain pills. I wish I remembered what his face looked like, but I do remember tears forming in the corners of my eyes.
We made it, my heart sung. Even through all this.
And now I stood before him again, three steps away, and he smiled quizzical at first, and then, his eyes sparkled.
"For my birthday," I said, "Will you dance with me? I want to know what it's like to dance with you on two good feet, in my wedding dress..."
We played songs on his iPhone, the internet connection cutting in and out, but we laughed and kept dancing. Finally, the song that carried me down the aisle to him, swept us up in each other's arms. Eight months of heart-rending hard to get to here, and here we danced barefoot, while tears of gratitude sprung fresh in my eyes.
The dress came off, slowly, a dance in itself, dropping to my feet. And here in the embrace of forgiveness, we started over.
Linking up with Heather King and the talented Tuesday's Just Write crew. Also, joining Emily Wierenga for Imperfect Prose, the prompt being "Encourage" - which is what I hope this post does for those, like me, who strain for redemption and hope in our marriage stories.