Chapter 7: Expectations

This story is about my wedding night. It is safe for work.

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We were covered in glitter.

It had been a beautiful night, until the moment I was covered in glitter. The sinking in the pit of my stomach the moment I realized that my sisters had been unsuccessful in guarding my car still makes me feel sick. Pulling away from the chapel I could feel my cheeks burning red despite the rolled down windows. Brandan’s wedding night surprise felt ruined as we peeled out of the parking lot. That sound is stuck in my head, it was an accident since Brandan had very little experience with the manual transmission in my little car. We drove with silence between us, just the clang of the metal cans behind our car filling our ears.

“Pull over please.” My voice shaking as I tried to contain something between anger and crying.

We pulled into a nearby neighborhood and in my heels and get-away clothes I laid down under the back of my car and tried to cut the cans off with the edge of a key. It took five minutes, the Virginian August humidity still hanging heavy in the dark, the sweat just making the glitter stick and itch. Brandan moved to the passenger seat and I threw the cans in the back of the car. The knots where still on the back of my car when I sold it last year.

“I didn’t want this.” I didn’t really care about the cans, I was referring to the copious amounts of glitter that would forever be ingrained in my car.

“I know, I’m sorry.”

 “Now I’m just upset and I shouldn’t be upset right now.” My voice sobbing. I took a breath then threw the car in reverse, backing into a strangers driveway to reorient myself with the main road.

“I know, I’m sorry. Just breathe.”

And I did.

“Turn left.”

Brandan pulled out a piece of paper with directions to the hotel. He’d been teasing me with it for weeks. I didn’t know where we’d be going for our wedding night. It wasn’t like Brandan to surprise me, or keep things for long. But he had. I didn’t know where we were going, and he apparently did not either.

“Will you just tell me where we’re going now?”

He didn’t say anything until the next direction. “Just keep going through this light.”

“Why would Chrissy let them do that?” Even his surprise couldn’t distract me. “We have to drive to Tennessee tomorrow. We have to drive with the windows down. All of our stuff is going to be covered.” Forget our stuff – we looked like we’d come from a strip club. 

About five minutes later we pulled into the parking lot of a historic bed and breakfast in old town Fredericksburg. I looked over my shoulder at the hotel, the lobby dark as it was almost midnight now. I felt nonplussed. “I’m sorry I’m in a bad mood.”

“It’s not your fault, let’s just go in.”

The bells rang as we pulled the door open, but there was not a person to be seen. We carried our two bags and a cooler my maid of honor had sent along with snacks. Up three stories worth of stairs and down the blue carpeted hall we found our room on the right. Brandan pushed the door open and reached in to turn the light on. It was lovely. Antique bedroom furniture in the first room, a claw foot tub in the bathroom, and a second sitting room with similarly beautiful furniture. Brandan smiled, a little pride coming through. “I thought, ya know… since we’re both into going to historic places… I thought you would think this is cool.”. I nodded. “This is the Stonewall Jackson suite.” And sure enough, the walls were dotted with drawings of Stonewall Jackson.

Still covered in sweaty glitter we decided a shower was in order. A sign in scrolly font informed us that because the pipes were old it could take up to five minutes for the water to heat up.

In hopes of clearing my mind Brandan and I took separate rooms. Closing the door behind me, I opened my small bag on the couch, then turned to the vanity in the corner. My make-up was badly smudged; it looked like I’d applied a whole bottle of mascara then rubbed my eyes. My cheeks were still red, and my hair was frizzy, a halo of humidity-induced tendrils going every which way. 

What a mess. It shouldn’t be like this.

I spent the next few minutes cleaning the make-up off, not wanting to look like a banshee fresh out of the shower. Water-proof mascara is a fickle friend, but with that situation under control I could move to the next task at hand. I opened the door to the bathroom, took a deep breath of the hot steam, then knocked on the door to the bedroom. Brandan opened it, church slacks and a white t-shirt, glitter and blushed cheeks to match mine. I don’t remember what was said though, because seconds later the smoke alarm went off in our room

We hadn’t realized that it was the steam setting off the alarm (true story) so Brandan opened the door to the hallway. Within minutes the hall alarm was going off and other people were coming into the hallway. Brandan acted confused – though I’m sure it was not acting – while I pulled the small cooler from the corner of the room and grabbed my shoe. Standing on my tip-toes on top of a cooler, waving my white patent leather pump at the smoke alarm mounted at the top of the 15 foot ceiling, covered in glitter. This is not what I wanted.

 

The alarm shut up after a moment, the hall way emptied quickly, and my husband of less than 12 hours re-appeared. I showered alone, antique furniture is loud and non-conducive to wedding night activities, and sleep beckoned – knowing we had an 8+ hour drive ahead of us the next day.

Stonewall Jackson on his deathbed, Brandan being a goofball.

The next morning I signed the guestbook. “Sorry for the glitter, the Reeds.”

This night should’ve been many things. It should’ve been a beginning, a hallmark for the rest of our lives. But it wasn’t. If anything I want to forget it and pretend that we left for a week long honeymoon on an island. Instead we drove to Tennessee so I could start school two days later.

I’m still mad about the glitter, and his family still thinks it’s funny.

But it taught me an important lesson: it doesn’t matter.

None of it. Easily one of the worst nights of my life and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because it didn’t mean anything. I get to choose what has meaning in my life. I was already married – the end of the night didn’t change that fact. I have a husband who loves me and can forgive me for behaving so selfishly in my anger. I can write it off as a lost, a funny story to tell, and truth be told I ruined the night as much as the glitter did by letting it bother me. My sweet husband – the only thing that matters from that day – has inadvertently turned me into a far less self centered person. It’s a nice feeling.

I feel so grown up.

For the record: there was still glitter in the civic when I sold it.

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In my house I have this piece of artwork I made when Ginny was a newborn.

 

I have everything I need and more…

 

I walk past it a million times a day, but today I saw it.

I need to remember this now, more than ever.

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Health Stuff

I don’t have cancer in my bones! In honor of that announcement, this song has been in my brain as I waited on those results.

<Tiësto feat. Tegan & Sara – Feel It In My Bones>

For clarity: I have Stage 3 Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. I have a bunch of tumors just under my diaphragm, and one in my chest under my right clavicle as well as preliminary involvement in several different sets of lymph nodes in my chest. Doesn’t matter, having chemo any way. Chemo doesn’t pick and choose what to kill.

My side effects are currently minimal. I’m tired, I’ve had a few headaches, a few weird pains, lots of heart burn, but…honestly… it’s no worse than being pregnant (I had a pretty easy pregnancy).

Tuesday was my bad day. I woke up with a headache, nausea, and back pain that lasted all day. Then it was gone. I don’t have a lot to complain about.

We did a Chemo class this week, and got to consult with an oncology nurse. She said that symptoms tend to stay the same, but they get worse with each cycle. So thus far my cycle is: normal, normal, slightly uncomfortable, uncomfortable, bad day, uncomfortable, normal, normal, normal…. all things considered I literally have nothing to complain about.

Today I did lots of normal things. It was beautiful.

I’m still going to lose my hair. I’m okay with that.

So overall, I’m good. I feel loved. Our fundraiser is moving along and the stress associated with the cost of cancer is going down, little by little. After weeks of stressful waiting that felt like torture, it’s nice to sweep the floors, do the dishes then go shopping for large quantities of toilet paper. Life. Plain, old life.

6 Comments to “Chapter 7: Expectations”

  1. Glad you’re doing ok.

  2. Perspective. A change of perspective can change everything.

    On my wedding day I was upset that no one decorated our car. I wanted the cans and the “Just Married” written on the back window. I don’t mind the no glitter thing though.

    But you’re right – it doesn’t matter. What matters is love. And we’ve both got that in heaps.

    Always here when you need me.

  3. Love you Jess!

  4. Love you, glad you are having some “normal” days, they are good for you! Give everyone a hug and a kiss.

  5. No bone cancer! That’s great news you kind of just brushed over there!

  6. 1) Did you guys happen to notice the irony of the fact that Jackson was shot by his own troops and you were glitter/car fragged by your own sisters?

    2) I don’t think I was anywhere close to being a high maintenance bride but I actually almost killed our photographer. He showed up late. He was supposed to be there at noon, an hour and a half before the ceremony to take portraits and the usual “wedding staples.” He blamed his girlfriend for putting the wrong memory card with his gear which didn’t work and in his frustration he THREW THE CARD INTO THE FOREST in a state park. Our best friend’s mother had a memory card he could use and said he could keep it as long as he mailed her any pictures that her granddaughter (my niece) happened to be in. This resulted in him following a 2 year old around for a good 45 minutes of the reception until her mom swooped her up because she thought it was creepy. Plus: I have lots of adorable pictures of my niece. Negative: We have a bunch of crappy pictures of US. It was in a big outdoor amphitheater and he took ALL of the photos of the actual ceremony from the very back, top of the seating. Which means we look like ants in all of the ceremony pictures. Way too many photos were overexposed for him to call himself a professional photographer ESPECIALLY using a digital camera where you can review your pictures and adjust your settings accordingly. Plus, he presented an album when we first met him of amazing photos that had been perfected in photoshop. Surprise Surprise: His photoshop skills are worse than mine. I had to go through and edit all the pictures after we got them. Then he tried to recruit a girl I didn’t even know (a friend brought her as a date) to be a model so he could photograph her and told my ex-roommate that he smelled “like mighty fine weed.” So I came really close to just tackling him and beating the crap out of him but I didn’t want to be a viral news story about a crazed bride. As you can see, I’m still pretty passionately bitter about all of that so I definitely understand your wedding night frustration. But all that matters in the end is we get to spend the rest of our lives with our respective husbands and I think we’re both pretty lucky to have them ;)

    3) Brandan rocks. That was so thoughtful!

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