I could barely sleep the night before my wedding. There were so many details that needed attention, and I lay awake wondering how they would all be taken care of, and how my life was about to change in just a few short hours.
July 24, 1976 was going to be a hot day. All I could think of was how much still needed to be done, and how hot I was going to be in my wedding dress.
I dressed in a pair of shorts and tank top to stay as cool as possible and carefully placed my wedding dress into the car. I drove almost blindly to the church and parked the car in the parking lot behind it. I grabbed my dress and rushed into the church and down the stairs to the area that would be my dressing room. The buzz of activity was frantic and nerves started to set in.
When it was time, my father came down to get me. All of the guests were here and Ralph was waiting for me at the alter where in just a few short minutes, I would begin my new life.
Dad walked me to the end of the isle that would take me to the alter where Ralph was waiting. I was so nervous that I noticed the babies’ breath in my bouquet shaking. I wasn’t sure why I was shaking so much, but my father had noticed what was happening to me.
He leaned down and whispered in my ear, “You don’t have to go through with this. Just close your eyes and I will take you anywhere you want to go.”
I closed my eyes and the warmth of the sun began beating down on my body, which was only covered by my bikini, it felt so good and the sand between my toes was so cool. I took a deep breath and my lungs were filled with the sweet smell of the salt air from the warm Pacific Ocean. I was a peace.
I heard him approaching from my right side, and he stood in front of me, his body blocking the sun. I opened my eyes and had to squint from the brightness to see who was there.
I couldn’t make out his face, but I could make out the gleaming white uniform of a U.S Navy sailor.
He sat down next to me and gently took my hand in his and my whole body started to tingle.
“Good morning Princess,” the sound of his deep voice reverberated in my ears and I felt a great calm come over me.
“Why are you here?” he asked with his soothing voice. “Don’t you know what day this is?”
“Yes, today is my wedding day,” I replied with a broad smile beaming across my face.
So he asked me again, “Why are you here?”
“I was so nervous that I just needed to get away. I have to make sure I am doing the right thing. I want to be with Ralph, but I also want to be here with you, in this place.”
“Do you love him?” he asked softly.
The words rolled around in my head, but I wasn’t able to answer. He waited a couple of minutes, then asked me again.
“Do you love him?”
The words connected this time and I said without hesitation, “yes, I do love him.”
“Then you must go to him. There is a church full of people waiting for you to say those same words, and you have to start the next chapter in your life.”
“What if I need you again?” I said with sadness in my voice knowing the choice I had just made. “How will I find you again?”
He reached up, and began stroking my golden locks with his hand.
“Friends are forever, and you will keep me in the deepest, darkest place that aI woman can. All you have to do is close your eyes and you will find me in your memory.”
He bent down and whispered in my ear “Sweet dreams Princess,” then he gave me a soft kiss on the cheek and I felt his warmth permeate my inner being.
My father squeezed my hand and I opened my eyes. And looked up at him with a beaming smile on my face.
“Welcome back,” he said in his fatherly voice, “are you ready now?”
I nodded in approval and I turned to see the love of my life standing at the alter waiting for me. The organist started playing the wedding march and I took my first step and began the next chapter of my life.