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I do


June 1986 Spokane, Wa.

A giddy laugh made its way over her lips and trickled out sounding much like a bird tweeting it’s morning routine. She remarked that is was pretty, understated and of course the right price. He did not care to accompany me and saw no purpose in a ring, a mere symbol and so my best childhood friend was on hand to give advice and counsel. After all it had already been two years since we made our way through the Palouse and to a tiny wedding chapel where we covertly made it legal. “For $150 it is a gem” she touched my shoulder and smiled, reassuring me that it was needed at the wedding. I placed it on my ring finger and extended my hand as far as possible, staring at the modest gold band dotted with chips of diamond. Although it was simply a  formality it would also mean that our marriage would now be official and this part of life could be a thing of the past. I reached into my pocket and grabbed the wad of cash that I had earned working at a fast food chain. I counted bills and straightened them, placing them in a neat and tidy stack on the glass counter.

The ceremony and exchange of vows two years before had created a tiny crack and somehow served as a barrier between mom, dad and me. It had been the first of many omissions but felt more like a lie and one that would not be revealed until decades later. His mindful instruction continued each month, week and day, telling me that it was now only he and I and no one else could possibly love or understand us. It was imperative, even mandatory that I keep the secret to safeguard the “us” that had become intense and now larger than life.

I gingerly stepped into the car and held my hand over hair that had been styled, curled and sprayed. Lipstick, make up and final preparations were still on my mind but I managed to complete each task knowing it meant we were one step closer. Two years of secrecy followed by guilt had taken its toll and it seemed more of a completion rather than a beginning was about to unfold. The dress, veil and shoes were now deposited in the special room that stood in the basement of my childhood church. A faint smell of coffee and cookies reeled through my mind taking me back to mornings spent visiting with our church going friends. He had agreed to the ceremony in our family place of worship in order to make this transition to married life. Anticipation welled up inside of me but with it the realization that this love that had touched the depths of my soul had also generated other feelings unfamiliar to me. I remembered his words after that fateful day but chose to ignore their impact as I walked up the stairs and into the foyer. “I guess if I loved anyone it would be you”.

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