Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Wedding of All Weddings

Nineteen years ago this Tuesday, Dori and I exchanged our vows, cementing our commitment to love one another. I did that, without exception, until her death two years ago. I had my moments, of course. In any relationship, you always do. She also had her own, but not as many. She was the better half, and I knew it. What we did, through what I would call mostly mild infrequent turbulence, was provided balance, understanding and reassurance. Her strengths were my weaknesses, and vice versa.

Our wedding and reception were incredible. Dori beamed when she entered the church, and I struggled to keep my composure. I teared up immediately, then felt amazingly calm and warm. The ceremony went quickly. I learned later that Dori's sister Kathy lost the ring, and borrowed my Dad's at the altar. Kathy found my ring later.

The reception at Two Rivers Mansion, a restored home from the Civil War era, was one helluva party. Some have said it was the best reception ever. It was a cool crisp fall evening, Oct. 15, 1994. Vanderbilt had beaten Georgia in football, a rarity, and our Commodore friends were in good moods. We danced outside - the young, middle-aged and old. No one seemed to have a care in the world. They soaked up the energy, and so did we.

At milestones, I reflect on the moments, the people and the lessons. What's been on mind this week is that Dori taught me so much through her example. I am like her now, in some ways. When I deal with a teenager's issues, for example, I call on her example. Her words sometimes almost come through my lips. It's not like being two people, but it is feeling her presence and spirit. Dori was calm, a phenomenal listener, slow to judge but very intuitive and incredibly gifted understanding people and situations. Her physical absence is a huge void in our lives, but it's not a complete void. She already showed us what to do, how to handle situations and people. It's not being able to hug her, celebrate moments, see her smile and hear her laugh that sucks.

Dori emphasized that we - the kids and I - needed to live rich, full lives when she was gone. That's great advice, advice we are taking and realizing more each day. The first year, we survived, but we probably looked like Hans Solo, frozen and pained under the watchful eye of Jabba the Hut. Through support, faith, and hell probably the force, we managed to break free and begin rebuilding and reshaping our lives.

I know Dori would be proud of us. We will never forget that she was our rock and our earthly light, and I was one very lucky man to have her in my life. The kids know they're lucky they had a Hall of Fame Mom. Mark Faulkner called her Saint Mom in his eulogy. Well said, friend.

Dori and I honored our vows until the end. Through thick and thin, for better or worse, richer or poorer. We experienced a great deal, but our faith and trust in each other never wavered. How could it, with her unwavering example? It's now my obligation, passion and honor to try to match it.


karen said...

A sweet and well-deserved tribute. God bless you and your fabulous children

PJ said...

After reading your post (and wiping away the tears), I felt as though I'd been at your wedding. You're a brave and fabulous writer.

Ronni Gordon said...

Beautiful post, Jim. I am glad that Dori is with you and that you and your children are doing well.

Emily Walsh said...

Jim, great writing and a beautiful post. I was actually just reading a few of your posts and had a quick question about your blog. I was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance, thanks : )