This is the beginning of a short romance I wrote several years ago. I will post part 2 if I have enough interest.
Twisting the scented handkerchief that Maiya had insisted I carry, I stood as strains of the bridal march resounding throughout the flower and candle decked church, announced the arrival of my granddaughter, Emily.
I turned towards the aisle, cautiously moving my head, hoping I could prevent arthritis pains from searing the back of my neck. I audibly gasped as my eyes filled with the glorious sight of Emily wearing my wedding gown. The pearl studded bodice clung to her breasts, narrowed her waist, as the ivory lace slipped along her slender hips, pooling gently on the floor.
Her hand clutched her father's arm, my son David. He looked so handsome in the elegant tux, most likely an Armani, if I knew Maiya, my daughter in law. She had exquisite taste. David was the image of his father, the man I loved for half my life. The man I loved, but never married.
Emily's face was radiant as she took each slow step down the rose petal strewn aisle. She smiled beautifully at friends and family on both sides of the aisle. David nodded to friends and business associates
I felt tears sting my eyes. Were they tears of joy or tears of sorrow? Perhaps they were tears of loss. Was watching her in my wedding gown, the one I had bought to wear when I thought I would marry David's father, forcing memories to create tears? No, they are tears of joy for Emily. I dabbed at the tears with the handkerchief, glad Maiya had enclosed it in my hand.
I knew the tears were not only for Emily, now approaching Bryce, the handsome young man she was about to wed. There were memories plunging at my mind, forcing the tears to fall onto my cheeks, as I recalled a wedding gown never worn, a wedding that never took place. It was the gown I never wore to marry the father of my son. Oh, I married, but someone else. A simple wedding, no gown, no church, no flowers, but that was a long time ago.
I moved my head, arthritis pain shooting down my neck onto my back. I winced. Maiya put her arm around me, her eyes staring at my profile. "I'm okay, I whispered," my attention riveted on the beautiful couple about to become husband and wife.
I stopped the tears. I willed them to stop, just as I willed the memory of that long lost love to stop. I used a trick I'd learned when I was younger. I called it 'the Scarlet O'hara trick'. I'll think about it tomorrow. It was how I survived all these years. It is how I will survive the years that are left. I put my arm around Maiya as she cried softly, her only daughter about to wed. Her tears were joy filled.
I smiled, erasing the ache in my heart as we sat for the ceremony. The priest's clearly spoken words caught my attention. I looked at the young couple. Why did they have the families seated this way? I could see the groom's face, not Emily's. His parents could see hers. The seating should be reversed. The bride's family should be able to see their daughter's face as she makes her vows. All one could see from the 'bride's side' was her back.
I was remembering how Robert, the man I never married, and I had planned a simple wedding, my gown the only extravagance. It wasn't customary for a pregnant woman to wear a white gown, but only Robert and I knew about the baby. We planned to leave immediately after the wedding. He was still in college and I was going back to the University with him. We planned to be married during spring break.
"Do you, Bryce Michael Armstrong take Emily to be your lawfully wedded wife?" I caught the beginning of the priest's question, then my mind slipped away again. It has been doing that often lately. Has it always been so slippery, swishing from one thought to another?
Maiya squeezed my hand, bringing me back to the moment, as Emily repeated the vows. Such a sweet voice. I loved my granddaughter more than words could ever describe. She too is a part of Robert, only she will never know that he is her grandfather.
Oh yes, Robert is still alive. Very much so. I knew he was most likely sitting in a pew a few rows behind me. I wondered if he was feeling grandfatherly. I thanked God that he never revealed to anyone, at least not to my knowledge, that David is his son. He would be sitting alone. His wife Andrea passed away a few months ago. Strange, she and my husband Arthur died within three months of each other. It would be the first time I would see Robert in over forty years. I shuddered, thinking of the moment.