By now, many of you have seen pictures posted of me wearing beautiful dresses and makeup galore from my epic wedding day. But the first picture taken of me on August 26, which you haven’t seen is this one:
Filled with horror, I took this selfie in the middle of the night just hours away from hair, makeup and video production. When my over-excited brain finally started considering sleep and I shut off my music, the crooning of Fernando Ortega was replaced by another humming creature.
A blood thirsty mosquito took a bite of my lip which rapidly grew into the swollen state pictured above.
I was staying at a friend’s house in hopes of getting a good sleep before the big day. A good sleep though was becoming an ever more distant hope. My sister had said “text anytime!” So I sent the picture off with a “this is actually happening?! SOS. ”
Thank God for drugs. After seeing a light under my friend’s son’s door I knocked and frantically and asked for ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory. “Is it really noticeable?!” I asked. He paused, trying really hard to reassure me. “Well… Yes.” He finally said. The Advil put me to sleep and decreased the swelling a little bit. I woke up to my alarm at 6 am. The hairdresser was arriving at 6:30.
I couldn’t feel my lip. A familiar sensation to when the dentist froze my mouth to insert a filling. Not the feeling I had anticipated on my wedding day! If anything, I was looking forward to lip tingling kisses, not this!
Antihistamine! That’s the key! I found my friend in the kitchen, “you won’t believe what happened!” She quickly pulled non-drowsy allergy meds from a box and then gave me what I really needed.
She wrapped her arms around my tired, confused, nervous body and said, “I am going to pray for you. I think this is something that is trying to steal your joy.”
With a calmer heart, I sat at the kitchen table and ate a giant plum. Pretty soon I could feel my lip again and the whole event became a hilarious story with photographic evidence.
I love sharing crazy hilarious stories but there is another reason why I am writing about this now. Fast forward the wedding day to reception time… I am sitting decked out in my mother’s wedding dress with my new husband at my side feeling very blessed and humbled as friends and family share about the qualities they treasure in me… Especially seeing the good in tough and tragic circumstances.
At midnight the night before, I was struggling to see the good in this mosquito bite. Actually I was thinking Of course! Of course this is happening. I am Melody Conchie, weird, crazy, bad things happen to me. I couldn’t possibly believe that I could have a great wedding day without something like this happening. And that attitude kind of pervaded throughout the day…
At the rehearsal I was upset about parking,
before the photos I was impatient to see Forest while sitting with my siblings.
At the reception I wondered why I had done the table seating plan and messed up some tables, I wondered how I was going to say hello to everyone and eat dinner and dance, and then I felt very sad when I did not say hello to everyone.
But that was only one half of the story and I realized that it’s not all about me and it’s not all up to me. When I was stressing about parking and other things at the rehearsal my sister gave me a big hug and said, “Everyone here is a smart adult and they are all here to support you and take care of you. Will you let them?”
I received so many gifts that day as I opened my heart to receive.
After the rehearsal, a taco dinner was laid out and hungry tummies were filled. It was so much fun to watch friends and family meet each other and connect. So good to eat yummy food that I hadn’t made or picked up or laid out. A friend from New York City comes to the church. “Something borrowed…” She says as she holds out a sparkly cross necklace.
Early Friday morning, many people were up and working. The hairdresser who came to do my hair happily cared for everyone in my family. Even my dad’s curls were spruced up. My brother was transformed into a brunette version of Legolas, complete with a half pony tail and tiny braid.
The parking problems drift from my mind as the report comes that Dad and Mom made signs and everyone is doing their best.
My dad sees me in my dress and veil.
” O Melody.” He reaches for a hug with tear filled eyes.
My friends opened their home and made breakfast wraps. I heard many times that I wouldn’t be able to eat on my wedding day but, boy, did I eat!
The house was transformed into a movie set. Blast from the past…. Two buddies from Comox turned videographers capturing every moment.
For a few precious moments, I sat with my two sibs in Daniel’s shiny truck. My dress was piled up almost to my face. My mother-in-law bought me a 10 lb princess dress. So much fun! We shook our heads and grinned and marvelled that the third Conchie wedding had come.
Photos at the park…. A little girl looked on with wide-eyed delight. “Look, a real live princess!” Our photographer told her. I felt like that little girl. Not fully sure what was happening but filled with awe.
Five strong groomsmen picked me up for a pose. Forest’s mighty men.
Sushi is waiting at the church. I eat again. No starving bride this time.
Minutes before the ceremony I slip into my mother’s gown slightly remade. The satin is almost 40 years old and a delicious creamy shade. Whenever I look at it I want to drink a big glass of milk. “You can’t find satin like this anywhere.” Sylvester says. My family is not “rich” but we do have our very own dressmaker. Sylvester is a star.
We have prayed and the bride is ready…. But the wedding is not yet ready for the bride…
“Do you want to do some deep breathing relaxation?” My sister asks.
“No, I want to go on Facebook.” Yes, I said that.
Finally, we are ready!
I am so excited as I see familiar faces at the back of the church. Then I look up….
Forest is weeping. Tears of joy and love pour down his face as he shakes with sobs and gives me a little smile. I have never seen him look more beautiful.
Forest was worried that the crying would curb his singing but he pulled our duet off with class. I am so happy that I married a singer!
Promises and prayers and songs poured forth and over 200 people pledged to encourage us in our marriage.
In that nest of love, Melody Rose Li was born.
We skipped down the aisle as Mr and Mrs and drove away. More friends set up a resting place in their basement to give a break in our 17+ hour day. When she showed us to a cool bedroom with a double bed I had a fleeting thought of “this isn’t appropriate….” Then I realized that we were married!!
When we arrived at the reception, my sister led us to an air conditioned room and said there would be a delay because of the tables got mixed up. I felt a flood of shame and anger and stress. I had battled so long with those spreadsheets and still failed?
I slumped down in a chair and closed my eyes. Dear Calliope Rose sensed that I was sad. So she climbed on to my lap and started feeding me her crackers. “Eat, Maunty.” My heart was full of joy again as we danced around the room.
Before long we were ushered to the banquet with world class food, witty MCs and moving speeches. The room sparkled with ribbons, flowers and lights. More hard working friends and vendors.
My nephew Isaiah was the most chatty he has ever been as he sat beside me. Little Autumn grabbed my hand for dancing and poses in the photo booth. Jackson came over for lots of hugs. Little Eden came up for a rose. Seth and Annalynn gave us handwritten notes. During an overwhelming emotional celebration, children reminded me that I was safe and very loved.
When we arrived, exhausted, at our hotel room we found that more friends had lovingly decorated the room with candles and rose petals, chocolate and scripture verses. What a gift.
On our bed was a verse from Genesis:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (2:24)
Don’t worry…. What happened in Hawaii stays in Hawaii. 😉
I will say that Forest and I received a breathtaking beautiful gift from our creator.
Everyone comes into marriage with a past, pain and joy. My past has some darkness and pain as I have written earlier. But when one candle is lit in a dark room, fear is transformed into beauty and intimacy. The love of our powerful Creator, humble saviour and victorious King has lit a fire in our hearts that will never be extinguished.