“Jaci, are you ready yet?” Abby asked impatiently. “The wedding was supposed to start ten minutes ago!”
“Almost!” Jaci cried.
“Cut her some slack,” I said as Noel put on my shoes.
“Jaci should have done what Zach and I did,” Abby said. “Everybody show up before ten thirty, and the wedding starts when we’re ready.”
“Ready!” Jaci said opening the door of the bridal chambers.
“You look beautiful,” Momma smiled.
“I think my mother would be proud,” Jaci said with a sad smile.
“Is my girl ready?” Daddy asked knocking on the door.
“You can come in,” Jaci said as she grabbed her flowers.
Daddy walked in and smiled.
“You look lovely,” Daddy said.
“Thank you,” Jaci smiled. Daddy offered her his arm and Jaci took it.
We bridesmaids filled out of the bridal chambers and found our groomsmen.
“You look pretty,” Darcy whispered in my ear as the couples started walking down the aisle.
I smiled at him.
“You nervous?” Darcy asked.
“About what?” I asked confused.
“About dancing,” Darcy said.
I don’t have time to answer him. Darcy started to push me down the aisle. I managed to plaster a smile on my face. My stomach was in knots. I forgot all about wheelchair dancing.
Darcy and I missed three weeks of practice while I was away in Pittsfield. Last night, Ms. Etta said that we were ready for the wedding. I wasn’t so sure.
The music switched from The Wedding Song to Here Comes the Bride. Everybody stood but me.
Jaci beamed as she and Daddy walked down the aisle. She looked absolutely beautiful in her handmade dress. Timmy’s smiled wide at her. In that moment then and there I knew that he loved her.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the presence of this company, to unite Timothy- Caleb Stewart and Jaci Matthews. Marriage was instituted by God. It is therefore, not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, soberly and in the fear of God. If anyone questions this marriage between Timothy-Caleb Jeffery Stewart and Jaci Ireland Matthews, speak now or forever hold your peace,” The pastor said.
I don’t even think Mr. Stewart would have objected. Not a sound was to be heard. Even the triplets were quiet.
“Who gives this woman to this man?” The preacher asked.
“We do,” Daddy and Momma said with tears in their eyes.
“Let us pray,” The pastor said. He prayed.
“Now the best man will read a Scripture passage,” The pastor said.
“‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it…And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him…And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.'” Darcy quoted.
“Now the maid of honor will read a Scripture passage,” The pastor said.
“‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.'” I quoted.
“You may say your vows now,” The preacher said to Timmy and Jaci.
“I, Timothy-Caleb Stewart, take you Jaci Matthews, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, or the Lord comes for His own, and hereto I pledge you my faithfulness,” Timmy promised.
“I, Jaci Matthews, love you, Timothy-Caleb Stewart. I am confident that God has chosen you to be my husband. I will love, honor, cherish and obey you always in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in sorrow as in joy, and will be true to you so long as we both shall live,” Jaci vowed.
“The rings please,” The pastor said. Little Austin ran from his mother’s arms. He handed Timmy the pillow with a smile.
“Thanks,” Timmy said. “Now go back to Mommy.”
Mr. Rivers stood up and picked up his son.
“With this ring, I thee wed,” Timmy smiled putting the ring on Jaci’s finger.
“With this ring, I thee wed,” Jaci smiled as she put the ring on Timmy’s finger.
“I know pronounce you husband and wife,” The pastor said closing his Bible. “The couple will now seal their marriage with a kiss.”
Timmy leaned down and gave Jaci a quick kiss on the lips. Jaci smiled and hugged him.
As they walked down the aisle, rice and rose petals were thrown at them. I couldn’t help but smile.
But then fear crept up into me because it was time for the reception. Which meant it was time to dance.
I tried not to shake too much as I watched the First Dance and the Father-Daughter Dance. Jaci wanted my first wheelchair dance to be special. She had me down as one of the dances. I was absolutely scared to death.
“How are you feeling?” Darcy whispered in my ear.
“I can’t do this,” I said shaking my head. “I want to puke.”
“Don’t do that,” Darcy said with seriousness in his voice. “We did great last night at practice. You’ll do fine.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen can I please have your attention?” Jaci asked taking a mike from the DJ. “In the past several months my younger sister, Natalie, has been practicing to dance at my wedding. As most of you know, last year Natalie was hit by a car and broke her back. She hasn’t let her paraplegia stop her. I’m so proud of her. She’s gotten so much of her life back and so soon after the accident. This was something Natalie wanted to do, and we all knew she could do it. So please give it up for my sister Natalie and her dancing partner and boyfriend Darcy Edwards!”
I felt my breakfast come up. Darcy pushed me towards the middle of the floor. I smiled at me; I couldn’t smile back.
The music blared through the speakers. Darcy took my arms and spun me.
It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground
Its the time for play
Its a whipped cream day
I wait for it the whole year round
Darcy and I soon got lost in the song. He glided me, he spun me, he even shimmied me. And surprisingly we even back stepped. By the end of the song, all the butterflies had left my stomach and I realized that I had actually had fun dancing. People were cheering for us so loudly that I was a little embarrassed.
I looked over to where Momma, Daddy, Ms. Donna, and Ms. Etta were sitting. They all looked like they wanted to cry. Darcy pushed me over towards them.
“My baby!” Momma cried hugging me.
“Mum!” I groaned. Momma stopped hugging me and sat back down.
“You two were wonderful,” Ms. Etta said. “You two also survived the dancing test. Would you be embarrassed if I said in a couple years that could be you.”
“Well you just said it,” Darcy said with red cheeks. I laughed and smiled.
Darcy helped me to my spot. I looked around. Everybody was goofy dancing. Momma and Daddy were cooing over the triplets. And Darcy was smiling at me.
“I’ve decided something,” I said.
“What?” Darcy shrugged.
“I’m staying,” I stated.
Darcy stared at me.
“It wasn’t because of anything I said was it?” Darcy asked. “Because I want you to know that I want you to go if you want to. I’ll wait for you.”
I gave him a smile. Darcy is so sweet.
“Nope, I’ve just realized how much I love this place and how much I love all the people in this town,” I said. “I can’t leave. Not now. I mean I just got back!”
Everyone clapped. My parents looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.
An hour later, Jaci called for all the unmarried ladies to come out to the dance floor. Every girl but Noel and I obeyed.
“You’re not going out there?” Darcy asked.
“It’s the bouquet toss,” I said. Darcy went back to his dinner.
“I don’t see the point in doing this but my sister tells me I have to so here I go!” Jaci shouted turning around. “You ladies ready?”
“Yes!” They cheered.
Now Jaci may be petite, but she has a really good arm. She threw the bouquet with so much force that it went straight over all the ladies heads and landed in Noel’s lap.
Bennet, who was sitting next to Noel, laughed.
Noel, who clearly did not want the bouquet, violently threw the bouquet into my lap.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Everybody else laughed too.
“Does this mean we’re having double weddings?” Darcy joked.
Everybody howled at that.
“Noel, you want the bouquet!” Virginia tried to explain. “Its believed whoever catches the bouquet gets married next.”
Noel just looked at Virginia’s feet and went back to her dinner.
I then got an idea.
“Virginia, catch!” I shouted. Virginia caught the bouquet. Virginia got my idea.
“Emily, catch!” Virginia shouted throwing the bouquet the Emily.
“Regina!” Emily said.
“Oh no you don’t!” Regina shouted. Regina ducked and Jessie-Maria leaped to catch it.
The bouquet toss wasn’t over until every unmarried girl in the room caught the bouquet.
“Ok,” Timmy said taking his tie off. “Since my wife doesn’t like the whole garter thing, I’ll be throwing my tie!”
All the unmarried man except Bennet got up and stood on the dance floor.
Timmy threw his tie, and it landed in Bennet’s lap.
“God, are you speaking?” Bennet asked.
Everybody laughed. Regina, who had been forced to catch the bouquet, handed the bouquet to Noel. She surprisingly took it.
“Oh, I hope the whole bouquet thing is wrong,” Virginia whispered in my ear.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I can’t wait four years for another wedding!” Virginia joked. I laughed.
Another Christmas song played and Darcy pulled me out to the dance floor.
And we danced the night away.
I discovered your blog when I was searching for pictures for a report on Paris. I have to admit, at first I hated your blog. You seemed to have a perfect life. You had a large family. You’re mom was excepting triplets. You had a father and more sister than brothers. You and your family looked so happy in Paris.
My life’s not all that great. I, too, am a paraplegic. Complete T12. One of my mom’s ex-boyfriends shot me in the back. It’s a long story. Well anyway, My mom recently got remarried to this man I totally hate, and we’ve just moved again. I longed to have your life, but then I found a picture of you and your stepdad.
I was first of all shocked to find out that you had a stepdad. I was also shocked to see that you were in a wheelchair. I started to read more and more of your blog and was able to find out that you had been hit by a car last October. I was amazed at how quickly you bounced back. I would really like to hear your story. I want to know how you’ve done it. How you ended up to have this amazing relationship with your stepdad. How you’ve got through being in a wheelchair. My accident happened two years ago and I’m still bitter about it. I understand if you’re too busy and all, but I think all your readers would like to know your full story.
Keep Calm & Write On!
I stared at my blog box. I had received this email over a week ago and I still hadn’t written anything. Summer was in full swing now. I could hear Megan and Bella out in the backyard chasing our brand new Welsh Corgi, Mistletoe.
Our brand new cat, Charlie Brown (Noel named him), strutted into my room and plopped himself on my bed.
I shook my head and went back to worrying.
“Whatca doing?” Daddy said walking into the room with Noel’s and my laundry. Momma and Daddy had put a group of things to do in a hat and whatever you pulled was your chore. Unfortunately for us, Daddy picked laundry.
“Remember that email I told you about?” I asked.
“The one for Lily Charlotte?” Daddy asked.
“Charlotte Lily,” I corrected. “I really want to post about my story and all that but I just don’t know where to begin.”
Daddy picked up a piece of paper and handed me a pin.
“Let’s say I told you to divide your life up into parts,” Daddy said. “But you can only explain your life in five parts. Where would you start? Where does it make the most sense to start?”
“Well when I came to Florida,” I said.
“So that’s Part 1,” Daddy said writing it down. “Now name it.”
“Christmas Dreams,” I said.
“Christmas Dreams?” Daddy asked as he wrote it down. “Why that?”
“I don’t know. It just seems to fit,” I said.
Soon I had my five parts down. Christmas Dreams, Marshmallow World, Heaven Everywhere, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Joy to the World!
“The rest is up to you,” Daddy said ruffling my hair.
I turned back towards the computer. I put my fingers on the keyboard.
“Please show me,” I prayed.
I closed my eyes and let my fingers fly.
And these words started back at me: How can a person not love Christmas when their name is Natalie?