From her open window, Jill took in the scene before her as she viewed the barn and surrounding land. In the corral, her Appaloosa mare, Shawnee, gently nickered at her foal, and in the pasture, her father’s prized quarter horse, Winchester, raced across the green meadow, kicking up his heels. In the distance, soft clouds billowed along the peaks, and overhead, a red-tail hawk soared, drifting gracefully on gentle breezes. The young woman closed her eyes for a moment as the familiar heartache ripped through body and tugged at her very soul. Three months hadpassed and still no word. Her father’s plane had simply disappeared without a trace in the San Juan Mountain Range. And this day had arrived all too quickly. Now, she had her doubts about the upcoming ceremony. What was she thinking?
In the garden, the ribbon covered chairs were arranged in neat rows. The covered patio was decorated with teal and creamy white decorations. Streamers and ribbons moved lazily in the wind, and on occasion, a balloon escaped its confines and drifted upwards towards the warm summer sun. The caterers were scurrying about here and there while putting on the finishing touches for the buffet. Daddy’s gazebo, the project he fussed over for months, looked beautiful with the potted ferns and colorful flower baskets, hanging from the rafters. She smiled even through her tears and remembered the day he arrived home with a pick-up load of lumber after she mentioned that a garden wedding with a gazebo would be heaven. Oh what she wouldn’t give for him to be here now.
“Daddy,” she whispered, “oh how I wish you were here to walk me down the aisle.”
“He’ll be here for your wedding, honey.” Her mother had slipped quietly into the room and wrapped her oldest daughter in a warm embrace. Wiping the tears from Jill’s face, Samantha smiled at her daughter. “After all the trouble he went through to build you that gazebo, do you really think he wouldn’t show up today?”
In spite of her loneliness for her father, the young woman had to laugh. “You’re right Mama. Daddy will be here.” Locked in each others arms, mother and daughter, looked out into the garden as they thought about the man they so desperately loved and missed.
“Mama, do you think I am doing the right thing?” Jill questioned.
“What do you mean, baby?” Her mother asked.
“Well, I sometimes wonder if maybe I should have postponed my wedding. After all, it’s still so soon after his plane crashed.”
“Nonsense,” her mother replied. “Your father was happy for you. He would not want you putting your life on hold. He loved…loves Kevin like his own son. He wouldn’t want you to postpone your future or your happiness. This is what he would want. And besides, this is exactly what this family needs, a little celebrating.”
“Oh, Mama, I hope you’re right.”
As her two younger sisters burst through her bedroom door, this mother-daughter moment ended in squeals and laughter. Samantha kissed her daughter on the forehead and announced to her younger daughters, “I do believe we had better help your sister get ready for her wedding, or poor Kevin will think that Jill left him standing at the alter!”
After fixing Jill’s makeup and adding a few more wispy curls to frame her daughter’s sweet face, Samantha helped her daughter slip into the simple lace dress. All that Jill’s mother and sisters could do was stare and smile.
“What?” Jill demanded. “What are you smiling at?”
“Well,” Barb quipped, “we just aren’t used to seein’ you in anything but faded blues and t-shirts.”
“Yeah,” agreed Kris, “every once in awhile you will have to fix up for Kevin, so he will know that he married a lady and not some old tomboy with scratches on her knees.”
Jill picked up a teddy bear, a Valentine’s Day gift from Kevin, and slung it at her laughing sisters. “I’ll have you know that he has loved my scarred knees since we were both in third grade,” the laughing bride retorted.
“He should,” Samantha scolded, “since he helped you acquire most of those scars with some of the dares he threw your way. I still shudder when I remember how you jumped from the barn loft into the hay bales below. You were lucky you only broke your leg instead of your neck, young lady!”
Before Samantha could begin to lecture her daughter once again, Jill’s brother, Keith, banged on the door and bellowed, “Is it safe to come in?” Just like always, her older brother had come to her rescue. Announcing that the guests had arrived and that Kevin was shaking in his boots in the gazebo, Keith reminded, “Well Sis, I guess it’s time I escorted you down the aisle, so we can put your future husband out of his misery.”
With that the family quickly moved out of the house and into the garden. First, Samantha was escorted to her seat and then Kevin’s mother, Jan. Soon her sisters walked slowly down the aisle, one by one. In the gazebo, her gazebo, Kevin waited for his bride, and soon Jill was walking down the aisle with her brother.
When the minister asked, “Who gives this bride in marriage?” Keith answered, “My mother and I,” and then he whispered in his sister’s ear, “and dad too.” After kissing his sister on the cheek, he placed her hand in Kevin’s. The handsome bridegroom smiled at his bride, and the two turned to face the minister.
The garden ceremony was perfect, and before she knew it, she was Kevin’s wife and dancing with her husband on the large patio. After the wedding dance, Jill looked over at the DJ, nodded and then smiled. With that the DJ announced that the bride had requested a special song in the memory of her father. On cue, Keith stepped forward and escorted his sister to her garden gazebo. Sweetly, the song, Holes in the Floor of Heaven, began to play. Keith danced with his sister as the music played, “And there’s holes in the floor of heaven, and her tears are pouring down, that’s when you know she’s watching, wishing she could be here now.” Softly, a gentle summer rain began tapping on the gazebo roof. And with that the audience gasped and clapped while the charming bride smiled, for her father had arrived just in time for her wedding.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Years ago, I attended a family wedding which inspired me to write this fictional short story. The young bride’s father had taken his plane and disappeared over a mountain range in Colorado. Months later, the daughter continued her wedding plans. At the reception, Holes in the Floor of Heaven was played. During that song, a soft rain fell to the amazement of all who attended. After the song ended, so did the rain. For me, it was a gentle reminder that love holds no bounds; without a doubt, our heavenly Father also sends sweet reminders of his loving kindness.