The morning before David and Liz’s wedding, Tropical Storm Andrea dumps six inches of rain on northeastern North Carolina. Water floods the drainage ditch, pours over the driveway, pounds the oak trees, and pools under the huge white reception tent. The bride and the groom stay cool.
“The rain will stop,” my son David says as he watches the radar reports on his cell phone.
“Whatever happens, we’ll deal with it,” his bride Liz says with a shrug.
“And no matter what the weather, this wedding will take,” I say giving Liz a hug.
Since the storm makes outside set-up impossible, David creates a slideshow of the couple’s lives. Liz works in the kitchen assembling a massive black bean salad while her mom and dad, Ann and David McFarlane, finish the beautiful programs Liz created for tomorrow’s ceremony. The rest of us work in the outdoor kitchen created just for this event on the southern-style wide roofed porch.
I wash piles of lettuce harvested from David and Liz’s garden. Pat Rockwell, David’s second mama or auntie in his childhood, sorts and chops. Lauren Cottrell Banner laughs, packs lettuce into plastic bags, and takes photos. Veronica Christina and my younger son Anthony chop onions and peppers.
“Pass me a serrated knife,” Anthony calls over the rain with a grin in his voice. Lauren passes it down the line.
“How do you want these peppers chopped?” Veronica asks, flipping her long dark waves out of her eyes. Veronica and Anthony are here from California, and it’s the first time she’s met the whole family.
“Ask the bride,” I shoot back.
We prep vegetables according to Liz’s instructions, shredding, dicing, and slicing. It’s a dish-to-pass wedding, but Liz cooks as though she’s feeding all two hundred guests. Bags and bowls fill with maroon tinged lettuce leaves, red peppers, orange carrots, green jalapenos, pale cucumbers, purple cabbage, yellow corn kernels, and diced red tomato.
There is much to do to set up for the outdoor wedding tomorrow afternoon, but that must wait. Hummingbirds buzz over our heads at the feeders that hang everywhere under the porch roofs, rain pounds, and four dogs snooze. We work happily, basking in the wedding glow, sure all will work out.
Along with joy, our hearts ache for Vic’s absence. A father and husband should be here for the wedding of his first son. David and Liz handled this head on with a five-year death ritual for Vic last nights. Liz made a small altar with a photo of Vic, an oak branch, a few flowers, and a candle. She read the 23rd Psalm, we recited poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, and sang “Let It Be,” Steve Smolen told stories of meeting Vic and our family in 1975 and some of us had a good cry.
Today, the sky weeps so I don’t have to. I work and play with my family. The bride and groom’s infectious love surrounds us. I’m happier than I’ve been in years.