Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Thirty-one years ago yesterday
Because my husband was raised Catholic and his uncle was a priest, we were told he would deliver the message, even though the ceremony was in the un-air conditioned Lutheran church where I grew up. When I say it was the worst wedding talk ever, I mean it. And I have a cassette tape to prove it. Midway through, I was ready to call the whole wedding off and leave (to go somewhere cool, no doubt). But I'd already stood on the balcony, before walking down the aisle, and surprised my groom by singing One Hand, One Heart and it would seem hypocritical of me to back out after such a song of prayer and promise.
Besides, my Jewish friend, Laura, began the service with other songs of God's and our love, including a traditional Hebrew blessing, All Good Gifts from Godspell (a show Laura and I did together the previous year) and Through the Eyes of Love from Ice Castles. Backing out would just be wrong.
However, red flags went up as soon as the priest opened his mouth, botching the pronunciation of my name and then calling my husband-to-be by the wrong last name!!! I kid you not. It went downhill from there.
"It was the passion of love that brought you together. But will passion last? I doubt it." Seriously?
"Up until now, you've only seen each other at your finest," he droned, "but one day you'll wake up and see each other as you truly are ... warts and all. Will your love survive that?"
I told you it was the worst ever!
To say that Jim's family did not like me is an understatement. After all, I was not Catholic. And I'd had a baby out-of-wedlock and given her up for adoption. I certainly was not the dream bride for their Jimmy. Despite them, we married and worked on having a happy life together. Because of them, it was a rocky road.
I personally have not experienced as much evil as I experienced with my former in-laws, from the molestation of one of my daughters when she was two-years-old and the subsequent accusal of me being the molester (in order to frame my mother-in-law), to the stealing of my husband's life insurance after his death, and so much more. You see, our marriage only lasted eight years, not because we were unable to survive the attacks on it, but because Jim was unable to survive the chemical flash fire that left him with third degree burns on 98% of his body.
His father was a life insurance agent who, after Jim switched the beneficiary on his policy to me, purposefully did not send the paperwork in to the company. I have letters from my former father-in-law stating his reasons why he did this, none of which are acceptable. After Jim died, his parents collected the $200,000 and refused to give it to me unless I agreed to award them partial custody of my children. Excuse me?? What mother in her right mind would agree to allow her children to go stay in a home where one of them had her insides ripped up by pens stuck inside her by her grandmother?? Let me tell you, I was a grieving mother who was not in her right mind, and I still refused the offer. My children were not for sale.
As a legal battle ensued and the threat of losing my children loomed, I was well-prepared to leave the country to protect my daughters. That's what mothers do.
Why am I sharing all of this? Perhaps because it's been bottled up inside of me for way too long. My late husband's parents have since passed, taking with them their twisted secrets.
I survived. My girls not only survived, as well, but thrived. Despite the many struggles they had to overcome, they are remarkable young women who are the source of my greatest pride. We had a rough road to walk, but we made it. God blessed us with an amazing man to come alongside us as a husband and incomparable father. I cannot imagine our life without him.
So, as I reflect on that wedding day thirty-one years ago yesterday, I have such mixed feelings. I had no idea what was ahead for us, as none of us do. My husband died the most horrific of deaths, which I had no way of predicting on that hot day in June when I stood looking down at him singing these words:
Make of our hands, one hand
Make of our hearts, one heart
Make of our vows one last vow
Only death will part us now.
Sharing my heart,