I sit at my computer; my mind in turmoil as it rambles over what has occurred, and I still can’t fathom it . . . can’t grasp the ultimate reality – the death of my brother. Somehow I thought we were invincible . . . a family that would never cease to exist, Dennis and I, the belly button kids.
I remember us climbing on top of the dresser to proudly display our belly buttons. We were five and three, newly moved into our house in St. Clair Shores. The dresser we were on was mine. Just a snatch is this memory, a quick glimpse into what had been but enough to bring a smile to my lips and a warm glow in my heart.
Most who know me know I like to write. I am in group on notoverthehill.com called Creative Writers. We have thirty-two members but there are four main contributors besides myself: Freda and Susan from England, and Nikki and Sandy from the US. Once a week we set challenges designed to get our mental muscles working. They can be five words where we must incorporate the five words into our story, theme challenges where we must adhere to a particular theme, postcards challenges where we write postcards back and forth between two imaginary characters, thus creating our story. And then there are picture challenges.
The one I am about to share with you is a picture challenge presented July – August? of an old wedding dress. The story is fictional, yes but the characters are real in terms of who they represent. I used real first names and imaginary last ones. I wrote it in honor of my brother. And, seeing this is Christmas Eve, I couldn’t have found a better setting in which to present it. Here goes . . .
THE WEDDING DRESS
Fancy stores are not my bag yet here I was, standing outside of Bloomingdales, one of the fanciest stores in town.
“Come on, Dennis,” Jake said. “Time to get fitted for your tux. The wedding is only a month away. You should have done this sooner.”
I couldn’t help scowling. “I know but . . .” I let it hang.
“But nothing.” Jake pulled me into the store. “Procrastination is over. Val would be upset if you wrecked her wedding . . . YOUR wedding. It’ll only take a minute.”
I let Jake lead me to the elevator where we went up to the second floor and over to the formal wear department.
“Get that scowl off your face,” Jake whispered in my ear as a salesman approached.
“My name is Michael. Can I help you?”
Jake didn’t wait for me to reply. He said, “Yes. Dennis is getting married next month and needs to be fitted for a tux.”
“I see. Has the wedding party been here to select the preferred tux?”
I nodded. “My fiancée, Val, came in two months ago and picked them out. All the groomsmen have been fitted. I’m the last one.”
Michael arched a brow. “Are you sure you want to get married? I mean waiting to the last minute is not a gesture of compliance.”
I resented the statement and it showed on my face. Jake nudged me forward. “Yes, he wants to get married but Dennis here is a last minute guy. Go be sized. I’ll wait out here.”
I shot Jake a dirty look, but followed the salesman into the dressing room. It was large, considering, and very luxurious.
“What is your name,” the salesman asked.
“Thank you. Please sit down. I’ll be right back with the proper wear, Mr. Marshal.”
He left and I sat on a leather chair in the room. Leather, for goodness sake! No wonder everything was so damn expensive!
He came back a few minutes later holding a box, not a tux like I expected.
“Here you go Mr. Marshal.”
I took the box from his hand and opened it. Imagine my surprise to find a wedding dress, one made of pure white chiffon with tiny squares of flowers bunched together, creating a delicate pattern. It was the most beautiful wedding dress I’d ever seen but it was inappropriate. I am the groom after all, not the bride. I set the box next to me.
“You made a mistake, Michael. I am the groom. This is a wedding dress the bride wears. You didn’t inadvertently let me see my fiancée’s gown have you?”
Michael shook his head. “No, Mr. Marshal, I haven’t. I checked with my superior and this is what you are supposed to wear.”
A dress! I couldn’t believe it. “Is this a joke,” I asked instead of venting my frustration.
“Certainly not, Mr. Marshal. I never joke when it comes to this dress. It is special.”
“How so?” He piqued my curiosity.
“Here, let me explain.”
Michael waved his hand in the air before him and a scene appeared. It was outside of Bloomingdales, in front of the door. Jake was there, his face a frantic mess, while paramedics surrounded a body on the ground. They were working furiously, doing chest compressions along with breaths on a person stretched on the cement. “One, two, three,” I heard one man count as he massaged the heart. “Breathe!”
Another man blew air into the patient’s mouth.
“Oh my goodness,” I muttered upon seeing. “It’s . . . it’s me!”
Michael nodded. “I’m afraid it is, Mr. Marshal.”
“But . . . but . . . I’m too young to die!”
“All your days are written in God’s book before a single one of them comes to be,” Michael explained. “It’s your time to come Home. This is the wedding dress everyone wears when they become the bride of Christ.”
I looked from the scene to the dress and then back to the scene. “But . . . What about Val?”
“She will grieve for a time, but eventually find another man to marry. I’m sorry, but you suffered a major heart attack and have come to me, Michael, Archangel to God. Those tiny bursts of pain you were experiencing were signals from your heart. You didn’t pay attention to them but even if you had you still would have ended here. No one goes before their time and only the Father knows that time. It is a shock but you’ll adjust to Heaven. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t.”
He pointed to the dress. I looked down at it once again, marveling at the beauty of it, and yet no longer astonished. The scene of me lying dead on the ground vanished. There was only the Archangel Michael and me. That was the day I learned men wear wedding dresses too.
I put it on with pride.
In closing, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Whatever holiday you celebrate, take time to soak up the fun, even those tiny nuances that annoy and yet strike you as meaningful. They make up the fabric of life. May yours be bright this Season and filled with love. I know mine is.