Earl’s arms around me assured me that I was OK. After work the night before I’d gone to his apartment and told him I was going to The Caravan. He said, “If you drink too much call me.”
I didn’t drink too much, and I didn’t have a good time. The usual raucous crowd didn’t draw me in as I sat by myself at the bar nursing a warm Budweiser. Anger seethed through my veins. I had changed. What do I do now?
When I saw Earl the next day, I burst into tears and said, “I wish I had just gone home last night.” He wrapped his arms around me and said, “I love you.” He had spoken those words to me before, but as I calmed down, he looked into my eyes and continued, “Will you marry me?”
“Yes. Yes. Yes!” I wanted to get married right away, but Earl insisted we wait a respectable time. We set the date for December 29, and shopped for my wedding gown and my engagement ring together.
We found my gown at the first bridal shop on our list! White lace covered the simple white gown and formed elbow-length sleeves. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. The “V” neckline lengthened my already long neck. The bodice fit my small chest and the skirt was long enough that I wouldn’t need to have it altered. I turned around and around looking at my reflection in the room of mirrors. I felt like a princess in a fairy tale.
Shopping for my ring happened the same way. I saw exactly what I wanted at the first jewelry counter. “This is it.”
Saturday afternoon, December 29, 1985 my sister, Bobbi, nervously helped me put my gown on and checked my hair and makeup. My friend, Demita, came in and said, “Let’s go upstairs now.” She directed me to the sanctuary entrance. She settled my veil in place before slipping into a back pew.
I nervously peeked into the sanctuary and saw Earl and our pastor, John, standing at the altar. When the Wedding March began, I stepped into the sanctuary. My bouquet shivered and my mind whirled as I made my way to my future husband. I focused on Earl’s blue eyes. How had I missed the love they held for me?
John opened the service by reading 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter. We quietly repeated our vows, exchanged our rings, and John said, “Earl you may kiss your bride.” He did so with a grin that matched mine—from ear to ear. John presented us, “Reverend and Mrs. Earl Dickerson.”
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:5-8 NIV).