Evelyn lay on the bed feeling the air move across her body from the gentle circles of the ceiling fan above her. She watched their lazy chase and the pale shadows circling the ceiling. The June morning was unusually warm and the heat moved through the glass of the bedroom window even through the closed blinds. Evelyn could feel the texture of the wedding ring quilt underneath her as she lay in her bra and slip on the bed. It was the one that her Aunt Grace had lovingly sewn for her with all of her favorite colors. There were pale pink roses on a sage green background, white lilies of the valley against rose colored scallops and her favorite, pale blue hydrangeas against a deep ivory background with tiny lavender dots in between the repeating patterns.
She should get up. The dull ache behind her eyes kept her on the bed a few more minutes. It would be a busy day and she would need the rest. Her dress hung over the side of the closet door, ready for her to put on. The guests would be waiting at the church. Evelyn closed her eyes and smiled. The church was going to be so beautiful. There would be roses, white ones to go with the deep blue hydrangeas that her friend Carol had graciously offered from her garden. There were candles, not tapers – they seemed too pretentious for this afternoon affair, but votives, tucked in arrangements of fresh ivy would offer extra bits of light in the old church. The stained glass windows behind the alter would be beautiful today in the afternoon sun. We won’t need the candles, thought Evelyn, but they’ll add a nice touch. They will reflect the light of our love, she thought with a wistful smile.
Johnny had been wonderful. Not like most men when it came to planning events. He talked for hours about this day with Evelyn. He helped choose the flowers and the music and helped whittle the guest list down to the friends and family they most wanted to be here. Johnny was great with details and he had done so much to help get them ready for this day. It was so like him. Evelyn smiled again remembering the night they had danced to song after song as they listened to CDs looking for just the right song to play on this day. How many men would care about that little detail so much?
Evelyn slipped the dress over her shoulders. The silk felt cool against her warm skin and she reached for the zipper at the base of her hip and slid it up under her left arm. She stepped in front of her vanity and arranged the delicate pillbox hat on her head. It had been her grandmother’s and she had always loved it’s delicate shape and the bit of polka-dotted netting that hung down just to the top of her lip. She slid a few bobby pins into her dark brown curls that were showing just a tiny bit of frizz with the late spring humidity. Smoothing the loose hairs and then running her hands down the sides of her dress over her hips and skirt she looked at herself in the mirror. Ready, she thought. Ready.
The ride to the church was quick. In a small town, you’re never too far from anywhere. Outside the church her Uncle Ed was waiting for her. A quick peck on the cheek from him and a pat on the hand and he was pulling her gently through the door of the church. This was it. The day she and Johnny had planned for. As he escorted her down the aisle, she smiled and nodded to as many friends and family she could see. They all looked at her with that loving look with their heads cocked to the side, tears in their eyes as she passed. And then she saw him.
Looking at the front of the sanctuary, she felt her breath sucked out from within her by some invisible force. He was so handsome today. He had such a rugged and outdoorsy style about him, she could hardly ever get him to dress up. Jeans and tshirts were his uniform, but there he was, in a gorgeous new black suit with a tie that matched the deep blue color of the hydrangeas surrounding him. She felt the tears start at the corners of her eyes and was grateful for the netting that could camouflage them for now. She knew that soon, they would escape the boarders of her eyelashes and there would be no hiding the depth of emotion she felt today. As they crossed the threshold of the aisle to the platform, Evelyn’s uncle gave her arm a squeeze and gently let go. She looked lovingly at him and mouthed the words, “Thank you” to him.
She took the steps up to the podium smiling at the pastor as he nodded his head to her and then, she knew it wasn’t quite the right etiquette, but she just couldn’t help herself. She reached out her hand and gently touched Johnny’s cheek. Smooth and soft, but cold. She traced the line of his chin and gently touched the knot of the tie. “You look wonderful, my love. My first and my one true love.”
She moved away from the coffin and took her seat in the front pew. The smell of roses, the flicker of candlelight and the brilliant light from the stained glass windows filled the church. “Yes Johnny, we did good planning this day. Everything looks lovely.” She eased herself into the pew as the first few notes of their song began to play.