The top of the cherry red jeep was down. The sky was dark. The air was warm and a touch wet, cooling our skin. A beautiful summer’s night in the Midwest, like hundreds I had experienced before.
But this one, this one was different.
We drove on the gravel road. I smelled the dust as it swirled around us. Down the hill, up the hill, to a stop. Vast expanse surrounding us. Dark space. Shadows of trees and hills. I knew the path, the landscape, and the colors, even though the view escaped me now. A road and place so familiar.
He shut off the jeep. The hum of the engine halted and a dreamlike quietness welcomed us. He confidently and tenderly slipped his hand in mine, strong and warm. We looked at each other and then back over our shoulders. Above us, a black starry sky. The kind you behold only when you’re in the middle of nowhere. The stars bright and truly twinkling, like someone meticulously and creatively glued each one in its perfect place.
As we gazed down and out over the pitch black expanse, they became obvious. Fireflies. Millions of them. Their little lights pulsing on and off, over and over, again. Steady yet random and unpredictable. The whole thing was a natural night-time masterpiece.
And then the farm house, about a half mile stretch from us now. It was glowing, giving off an aura that cut into the silent darkness. In that place, I took my first step. Had my first dog. Shot thousands of hoops with dad. Explored the pasture with my siblings like Lewis and Clark. Learned how to make bread and sew. Ran through the sprinklers and slid down the banana slide. Celebrated birthdays. Got my first zit and my first car. Had family holidays and graduation parties. And now, tonight, the place where I walked down the lawn and said my vows, shared my first dance with the man of my dreams and serenaded my sweet husband with karaoke. In that place were all our best people—representing all seasons of our lives—who traveled near and far to celebrate with us. The people who loved us, took care of us, supported us, stood up for us, celebrated us. All our favorites in one place, for one night.
As we peered at the night’s scene he squeezed my hand, a nonverbal sign on our wedding day to take a mental photo of the moment to store in our mind’s memory for a lifetime. Snap. We look at each other by the light of the sky, feeling the weight and beauty of that moment. Our whole selves overwhelmed by the day, by the people, by the snap shots, by the other. Our hearts pitter with thankfulness and anticipation for the hours and years ahead.
He starts the engine and we continue on…