16 years today we did what I never thought I would do - said vows in front of my family, friends and God, to spend my life with a woman I love.
I was scared shitless that day, and frankly for a long time after that. I had no responsibility, lived with my parents, came and went as I pleased, did what I wanted to, That day I was scared of losing all that freedom. I wanted to marry you, but right up to the day I was apprehensive about the future, what marriage really meant, what starting a family would entail.
That morning 16 years ago, I disappeared - it was a beautiful morning and I took off at around 6:30 (around the same time I'm writing this), and sat in solitude in Jackson Park, listening to the birds, watching the people doing their morning routines, sitting in quiet contemplation about what to expect. Not just for the day ahead, but for the rest of my life. I wondered to myself if this was the right thing to do. I wondered if I was making a mistake. I was afraid. I sat there for a long time just listening to the voice in my head while watching the clouds and the birds overhead. Then I saw an older couple - maybe in their 60s. They were walking through the pergola near the end of the gardens, hand in hand. They too had come to see the morning in the park - they came to see the gardens awake. They never let go of each other. I watched them for about 5 minutes before they walked off out of the park and down the road. Then silence again. I looked back to the Lancaster, knowing that afternoon I would be standing under her graceful wings wearing my kilt, with you in your dress (that I hadn't seen yet), getting our wedding photos taken.
I knew then, it was the right thing. I knew then I had no misgivings about what I was about to do. I knew then how much I loved you and that I wanted to start a new life with you, as well as a family. I headed home.
When I got there, there was panic. People were up and about and looking for me. My mother got on the phone and simply said "he's back, OK." Then hung up. My best man Jim yelled at me, and my father just snickered. I didn't think it was any big deal - I got up early and went for a walk. Something I've done a thousand times, and again a thousand times since. But I did that on my wedding day and didn't tell anyone. Everyone thought I had bailed.
Now to put things into a sort of perspective, I was literally carried out the night before and taken to Charlie's for a last fling, so I was not exactly feeling my best that morning. Dad put on breakfast and I again contemplated the day - now realizing how much my head hurt. We decorated the cars, made last minute phone calls, and goofed off a bit. Later the time came to start getting ready, I put on my kilt, and took care of the rest of the bits. When it came time for my shoes, Jim told me to sit down and he'd put them on me. I replied that wearing a kilt really didn't prevent me from tying my own shoes, and it just sounded weird having someone else put them on me - I grabbed my shoes and went to sit down. Jim shuddered. He didn't want me to see what was written on the soles - HELP ME. One word in liquid paper, on each shoe. I laughed my ass off. He was afraid I'd take it off. I said 'Hell NO! It's staying!'
When I knelt down at the alter, the shoes had the intended affect - the congregation started laughing out loud. I looked over at Jim to see him red faced and almost not breathing he was laughing so hard, while trying to contain himself. Outside, I was made to kneel down so people could get pictures of the shoes. A big hit. And to think that Jim thought I would want it scraped off.
Then there was Kim. I had yet to see the dress, or the flowers, or her. When she entered the church I knew this was no mistake. She looked beautiful, and on her father's arm coming down the aisle, she knew it. I watched the procession in wonderment - I had never seen her this stunning. There was a part of me that felt as though I was not good enough for her, that she deserved more than me. She was crying. Her father was welling up, everyone in the church turned toward this vision entering the midst. As Canon in D played, Kim and her father came toward me, and I could see or hear nothing else. I knew this was no mistake.
After the service it was back to the park. My morning excursion was now common knowledge. The guys made jokes, the girls sent disapproval messages. But all was good, I didn't disappear. We walked through the gardens, posing in various places and in various manners, but when I walked through the pergola where I had seen the elderly couple hand in hand earlier that morning, I took Kim's hand. It just felt right.
It still does.
There was obviously much more to this day that could be written here, it ended up being the best day of my life. So full of every emotion one could imagine. And so memorable to those who were there. From the morning, to the shoes, to the munchies, to disappearing in the hall, having people trying to look up my kilt all day, homemade alcohol, cars full of balloons, and more. At the end of it all was my wife, who stunned me that day with her beauty and grace.
Thank you to all who helped us that day. John Day, Scott Wilson, Jim McAree, Grant Turner, Dave Bull, Chris Insell, Tracy Hardy, Joanne Noble, Heidi Watts, Denise Esson, Neil Noble, Father Jim Roache, My parents John and Faith Wilson, Kim's parents Bill and Tony Insell, Kim's grandmother Nora Gilles, and aunt Henrietta Lee, and all the rest who helped make the day special. And thank you most of all to Kimberly-Ann Insell. You have made me a happy man. Without you, I don't know where I would be today, and without you, my children would not be here to love and cherish. Without you, I would be lost.
Today will be a busy day. Lots to do before the party tonight with many friends and family, some of whom were there in 1994, I'm sure that memories dragged up, some of which I probably won't care to recall! It seems to me that today is following the same vein as our wedding day - Me with an early morning reflection, followed by last minute planning, followed by a party, all of this on a beautiful sunny spring day. But the one thing that parallels that day more than anything else is the fact that you still take my breath away.
I love you Kimberly. Happy anniversary. Want to go for a walk in the gardens with me?