Clear, blue sky and golden sand. I look out onto the spot where I will get married on the beach. Waves crash in and just a few miles away– the smoke still rises from the rubble at ground zero.
The air was calm and light that morning. We had worried that it might rain. Instead it was four days after September 11th. With just a few close friends and family we got married anyway.
It was like the world stopped–as I danced in slow motion trying to ignore it all.
It was a feeling like someone had knocked the wind out of me. It was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives. I think we were numb. It was as if getting married was the most uncomplicated thing we could do- compared to the chaos in the world at that moment.
Our dinner rehearsal was spent the night before going over typical details, like the order in which the bridesmaids and groomsmen would walk out onto the sand. Afterwards, feasting on pizzas from our favorite neighborhood pizzeria– the way they can only do it in New York.
I hear the twinkling sound of seashells on the ocean breeze. Each drilled with a small hole and tied by a single string to the archway we would be married under. Sounds like wind chimes in the background of silence. They seemed to whisper, “We’re still here and there’s a wedding today”.
Looking around– a few are missing, but the most important players are present.
Holding onto two arms, trying not to trip over the front of my gown. I walk forward, barefoot, to meet the man I will marry.
The wedding had been planned for over a year. I always knew I wanted a beach wedding. We saved our money, until we were able to pay the balance in full for the wedding day festivities. Including catering, open bar, DJ, photographer, and minister.
A reception would follow at The Boardwalk Restaurant, overlooking the beach where the wedding took place. With its large open space and floor to ceiling windows looking out to the sea- it was the perfect setting. The menu was “a backyard beach BBQ” with BBQ chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, and corn-on-the-cob.
The cake, was a sea-foam masterpiece created by a close friend, complete with hand-molded, candy sea-shells.
Strangers walked by, stopping to congratulate us. Peering through the windows, smiles. Relieved to see that nothing could rob us of this moment.
When I look back now, eleven years later, it was the most beautiful wedding ever, at the saddest time the world had known.
If love can conquer all at the very beginning, I think it’s safe to say that we will be ok until the very end.
My husband and I were both flight attendants based in New York for American Airlines during September 11, 2001. He is currently serving in the United States Army. To read more about our story: Check out the rest of my blog.