Surviving nearly getting my organs harvested was something I had no time to reflect on. Mark had scheduled the surgery for when I returned so that had to be taken care of. We had to move forward. I remember the day he had to be prepped for the surgery. I had given him a golden ring as a promise to marry him while I was gone to Peru and he was not wearing it.
He took my little hand and in his fist he revealed the gold ring. He proceeded to hide it in my hand with a silent promise of coming back to me alive. A tear rolled down my cheek and it dripped off my chin. Mark caught it in his hand. I pressed my forehead upon his, “Oh I want to call in a minister to marry us this day!” I was scared that certain people who did not approve of me would bar me from my love if something went wrong. The whole scene plagued my mind as I thought the worst. It was a ridiculous request and I just needed to trust the Lord. After all, the Lord who saved me from the hands of those that meant to kill me, was the same God who could keep him safe.
I watched them wheel him out of the room and I sat there waiting for hours to find out if he was okay. It was no simple operation. They had to make a cut that was over a foot in length up the middle of his abdomin. I rested on the fact that God was with him. Out came the doctor and I could overhear him telling the others that he made it through okay.
I did not approach. I held my peace. I wanted to see him but I was not family so I waited until late. I sat in the waiting room until just after the last visitors left and I begged the nurse if could just see him for a moment. They granted my plea and there he was, a dim light above his head, tubes coming out from his mouth, nose, and around his sides. He was sleeping and I just prayed for him. I had hoped he did not think I abandoned him. When I saw his eye lids flicker, I rushed beside him and held his hand. “I am here, my love!” I felt a weak squeeze over my hand. He was okay!
The time he was there, I knew I had to wait until after hours to see him for the nurses had to keep me away otherwise based on the request of other family members. It was hard to feel like I had to lurk in the shadows like a criminal just to see if he was okay. Eventually, when Mark could speak, he was able to give me permission to come as often as I wanted. After that point I never left his side. When he was able to sit up, I fed him. I washed his hair in a basin behind the bed and cared for him any way I could. The day he was discharged, I took him back to my home in Wisconsin because that is where he wanted to stay, so I could care for him. It was a long road of recovery for him but I knew he would be okay.
We started to plan our wedding for the coming spring. I was still studying at the university so in between my classes, I was planning it out. Mark did not want a big wedding. He did not want bells and whistles, nor pomp and circumstance. No tuxedos or frills. To his surprise, I did not either. I ended up finding the dress that my mother wore on her wedding day. Her mother made the dress some 25 years before. I tried it on and it was a perfect fit. My mother and I just happen to be the exact same height. Wearing this vintage dress was very special to me. The white polyester was barely aged. Now for the veil. I went to my grandmothers home and she pulled out something very old. It was about 40 years old—my mother's first communion veil that she wore when she was only 5 or 6 years old. My grandmother made that as well. She was an amazing seamstress and keeper of the home.
On one afternoon as I was visiting my mother, she pulled something out of her jewelry box. It sparkled and shined with bright blue light. The ornate work around the pendant was incredible. It was a big blue translucent, precious stone about the size of a quarter. So old, so beautiful, I gently allowed her to place it into my hands. “What is this?” I asked. She answered, “You can borrow this for your wedding.” My eyes lit up as she continued, “This is my great grandmother’s necklace. It was given to her by her husband. Since I am her namesake, it was passed down to me.” This was a very special piece to wear at my wedding. It made the old saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” work for my wedding.
I found the perfect place to have our intimate wedding. It was a little chapel in Door County right on the shores of Lake Michigan. The chapel was all handcrafted from the hand hewn beams and timber frame construction, the paintings on the walls, the hand carved pews each with a part of the bible story pictured, to the needle point work on ever seat. Everything had meaning. A married couple, 50 years before that day, built the chapel. They put their whole heart into every square inch of that little place. Somehow I felt that it was the perfect place for us to start our journey. A place that was handcrafted. At that time, I had no idea that we would also continue down a similar path as the old couple that would lead us to become more self sufficient one day.
“Mark, it is the perfect place! You will absolutely love it. It is simple just like you wanted for our wedding,” I said with such excitement.
He returned, “How big is it? You invited 75 guests!”
“Oh, it is plenty big enough,” I said with complete confidence. I always had a way to see things bigger than what they actually were. I did not read the fine print where it said the maximum capacity for the chapel was 30 adults.
At the university as I was studying art, I did an engraving of a picture of us in an embrace so that I could use that as the cover of our invitations. I found some fellow music students that I hired as the string quartet. Mark was able to find a nice suit coat and tie for this joyous occasion and we were ready to start our journey together as a married couple.
May 23, 1998 was a misty morning in Door County. I put my mother’s dress on and looked in the mirror. I knew I was not the perfect bride. I knew I was spotted but I had faith that God had washed me white as snow when he forgave my sins. I felt brand new. I felt perfectly clean and white. If the only one that saw me in that light was Christ, I was okay with that. Only Christ knew my heart. It was a heart that yearned to serve and to yield to His perfect will for my life. That day I knew that His perfect will was that I would be Mark's wife.
I looked out to the waves on the shore and felt the breeze brush my hair and the sun caressed my face. The sun was peaking out from behind the clouds with the promise of clear blue skies. Oh how I loved the mornings. I love how the sun cascades its glorious light through the trees until it flickers on the ground. Having a morning wedding was perfect. It was nearly ten o’ clock in the morning and all the guests were arriving one by one. I was told Mark was very nervous because he saw the actual size of the chapel. While my head was swimming in the clouds dreaming about sunshine and roses, my love was back on earth trying to figure out logistics. As I approached the chapel for my journey down the isle, I noticed half of our guests standing outside. First my maids were in a row. The first was carrying the word of God, the lamp to our path, and she represented FAITH. God's word was something we wanted to stand on. After the first was another maid who held within her hands the candle which symbolized HOPE. This candle that we would both light as one. The next maid carried with her LOVE in the form of our rings. I walked down behind the last maid who sprinkled the floor with flower petals for me to walk on. My father’s arm joined with mine as we walked to the beautiful concerto of the string quartet.