I could already feel the tears forming when my dad led me out into the warm July sun, the double garage doors waiting to be raised before my grand entrance.
"Elora. Quick. Drink this ice water. You can't cry when you're drinking ice water."
I blinked and turned toward the voice, wondering how she got back here when so many people were blocked at the gate. What else was I supposed to do? I reached for the plastic cup and downed the ice water, grimacing at the way the cold bit my throat on the way down. I offered a small smile.
She leaned forward and kissed me on the neck and then giggled, wiping away her lipstick mark on my skin. I tried not to wrinkle my nose.
"Love you, punkin."
I looked at my dad, still latched on to my arm. His eyes wrinkled around the edges when he smiled at me. I looked away quickly, knowing that within seconds, he would be crying as well.
All morning long, I'd been breathing.
All morning long, I'd been laughing and calm and easy and anticipatory.
Now, the tears were lodging themselves in my throat as we took one step—two—three toward those glass doors.
I'm going to cry. I'm going to cry. I'm a bride and I'm going to cry.
"I love you," my dad whispered as we began our walk down the aisle.
My breath caught.
"I love you too." I whispered, blinking fast to keep the tears from ruining the make-up I applied a few hours before.
The doors crashed open and slid against metal, and the ethereal voice of our friend filled the auditorium.
Be thou my vision
Oh Lord of my heart...
The tears started flowing and a small smile played on my lips.
I didn't look at my groom the entire walk down the aisle.
I was thinking of ice water glasses and the way we can be snapped from reality. I was thinking of the feel of my dad's arms wrapped securely around my own. I was thinking of this student who showed up and that one who sat next to her. I was thinking of the cookies that guest used to bake for me on high school road trips because she knew I loved them.
I was thinking of the way that videographer assistant tried to break up my marriage weeks before we even said I do.
I was thinking of how my finger had already formed itself around this ring I wore for the past two years.
I was thinking of love and how it overwhelms you—completely saturates your being.
But as many thoughts as were rolling through my mind, I couldn't help but try and step a little faster down that aisle. Because more than anything, more than disappointments and setbacks and expectations, I knew these tears were coming from the realization of dreams.
Sometimes, beauty can fill us to the brim in such a way that we can't help but bubble over—sometimes through laughter, sometimes through singing. And sometimes, through tears, rolling down our cheeks as if the condensation from our restoration is spilling over into our lives.
No ice water can quench that.