5AM Wokeup - can’t go back to sleep. Anxiety about wedding? Not sure. Lie in bed trying not to be anxious, trying to relax, knowing that it will be a long day.
6:30 AM Shower & dress in comfortable but nice dress. I will change into my Mother-of-the-Bride dress later.
7AM Make list of what needs to be done. Breathe. Stage everything but dresses by door for loading into car. Have breakfast and coffee. Breathe.
7:30 AM Get Bubba off to salon with hairdresser to prepare First Baby for her big day. Get my big sister up. Breathe.
8AM Have a cup of tea. Breathe. Begin boutenierres. Making doubles of all, just in case.
8:19 AM Barn Owner calls. First Baby’s beloved horse Jake is down and not doing well. Blood coming from his eye. I ask him "You’re kidding, right?" No. Drop everything, run downstairs to grab jeans and boots to go over to barn to see horse and call vet. DH stops me, calls back barn owner and asks what symptoms are. Calls vet, vet away, another vet on call. DH tells me to stay saying that I am needed here to make sure everything is all set for the wedding, he will go over and take care of Jake. I do not want to, but I agree. DH calls First Baby to let her know and tell her that he will take care of everything, she is to stay where she is and prepare for the wedding. Through tears, she tells him where the Banamine is and how much to give Jake. DH leaves, I try to breathe, focus on just one thing - finishing the boutennierres.
8:30 AM DH calls to ask for names of any other vets. Jake is not ok. The Banamine is not helping. I give him the numbers I have, he instructs me to focus on the wedding.
9AM DH lets me know they are working on Jake and can’t get a vet. I call the photographer. She has horses, maybe she can recommend another vet. Get her voicemail. Go back to list. Focus on only the next thing to do. Boutenierres done, prepare 4 gallon jugs of fresh flower petals for flower girls/junior bridesmaids. Begin loading car trunk, then lay sheet over back seat of car so that wedding dress will not be marred. Load bridesmaid dresses, wedding dress and veil into car. Get neighbor to bring over table to wedding and reception site for guest book.
9:30 AM Florist calls - where am I? Not at wedding site to meet her to get the rest of the flowers! I explain, she agrees to meet me there in an hour after she delivers her funeral flowers. I arrange with neighbor to transport my sister and brother when they are dressed and ready.
9:45 AM At site, unload car. First person there. Lay out wedding gown, hang up bridesmaid dresses. Put boutenierres in fridge. Lay out makeup, toiletries, shoes for bride and bridal party. Kind of glad to be alone at this moment, as I feel on the brink of totally freaking out and collapsing. Take some deep breaths, get control. Just focus on one thing at a time. What is the next thing?
10 AM Meet florist. Try to engage. Mercifully short. Segregate flowers for First Baby’s bouquet, make floral arrangements for head table and guest book table. Lay out ribbon for bouquet and scottish sixpence. I am told that First Baby has left the salon and is at the farm trying to save her horse. She refuses to leave him. I remember that DH was to pick up coffee pot from church and make coffee for reception. Call DH’s friend to see if he can - no answer. Call DH’s best friend - he is a saint! He says without hesitation that he can pick up the coffee pot and come over and set it all up. I’m so grateful.
10:30 AM Groom’s father arrives, we hug and try not to cry. We will be doing this a lot this morning. He lets me know his wife is over at the farm trying to help with Jake. Bartender arrives, we negotiate kitchen space. Caterer arrives, I let him know that there may be a delay in the ceremony and therefore a delay in the reception.
11AM DJ arrives. I let him know that there may be a delay in the ceremony, and why. Ten minutes later, he yells at me because the ceremony site is further away from the carriage house than he thought. I politely encourage him to deal with it in a professional manner. I scream at him in my head as I smile sweetly at him and walk away to deal with the bartender’s emergency. Which isn’t one. I smile sweetly at him, too.
11:30 AM DH’s best friend Jim and his dear wife Claudia show up, 80 person coffee pot in tow. I am so very glad to see them and hug them. Claudia exudes calm and sweetness, Jim exudes calm and strength. Just what I need. Jim goes to work on the coffee. Claudia helps me with myriad little things, but most importantly is just there. DH calls to ask me to get First Baby to leave because no vet has come yet, it is looking worse and they are pretty sure they will have to put Jake down. I talk to the mother of the groom first, she adamantly wants First Baby to leave. Then I talk to the groom, he disagrees. He just wants to be there for First Baby, and when I ask him to be honest with me, he tells me that he is certain she won’t leave, that she’ll want to be there even if Jake has to be put down and he just wants to be there with her. I ask him if they think they might not want to get married today if that happens and he says that no, they’ll still get married, one thing doesn’t have much to do with the other. I appreciate his pragmatism. I talk to First Baby then, telling her that I am with her and Jake and I ask her how things are going. She is so sad, but so calm. They are working so hard with Jake, but she knows it isn’t good. She is prepared for the worse and wants to be there with him in the end if that is necessary. We hope it isn’t, we’re holding out hope for the vet who still hasn’t come. (Unknown to me, DH has called every single vet - small and large animal - in the state over the last three hours trying to get someone, anyone to come out. Finally, one is on the way.) This whole thing makes me sick, I just want to scream and sob, I want so much to be there with them. I wish someone else would take over so I could go to her. I stay calm, I tell her I love her again and that I am there for her, with her, praying for her and Jake. And I tell her that I will let everyone know to leave her alone and let her stay with him. She knows everyone wants to protect her from this, but she insists she needs to be there. She thanks me and gives the phone to her fiancé who passes it back to DH. I let him know that she has to stay to the end, she’s an adult and she needs to deal with this in her own way. And we need to stand by her and let her, no matter how hard it is and how much we want to protect her. And then I go back to managing and organizing. Things are falling into place. The groom’s aunt and father are most helpful. The photographer comes, I fill her in. She is generous with hugs.
12 PM The cake lady shows up. The cake is leaning like the Tower of Pisa. She is not doing things the way they were agreed upon. I tell her I will be right back as I need to deal with something else, because I am afraid I will scream at her. I take a moment to breathe and then I go back, speak to the caterer, enlist his wife to cut the cake (which the cake lady was supposed to have done and delivered precut cake for the guests, only the very top layer and a small cutting portion were to be real, the rest of the cake looked real, but was to be fake), get the cake lady to straighten the cake and put the topper on and then place some flowers and petals around to make it look pretty. Somehow, I’ve managed to do this with a smile. My sister comes with the things I left behind but needed. She is very helpful.
12:18 PM DH calls, the vet came, he could not save Jake. They had to put him down. He is going back to the house to shower and put on his tux. He will be there as soon as he can. I tell him that the coffee is all set, thanks to Jim. I take big gulps of air and try very hard not to cry. Claudia and Jim hug me, I get control. I go tell the groom’s father. We hug and try not to cry.
12:30 PM I ask Claudia to help the flower girls spread the excess flower petals in the pathway under the tent. I make First Baby’s bouquet. That’s a good thing to do while crying - it doesn’t matter if the roses get wet or my hands shake. Bubba is here, she and Claudia pull pictures of First Baby from the scrapbooks and put up with pictures of the groom near the entrance. The bridesmaids get dressed and ready. First Baby arrives, we cry and hug and cry and shake. And then she goes upstairs to put on her dress. The groomsmen dress. The Groom’s mother arrives, we hug and cry. I give the groom’s aunt the boutenierres. I get dressed. By about 1:15, all the guests are seated, and the procession begins.
I’ve never been one to cry at weddings. I did tear up when the Pastor took a moment to pray for Jake. I cried when First Baby danced with her father and the groom danced with his mother. And then when the newly married couple had their first dance together. DH cried too. For the first time in his adult life. And the father of the groom came and sat with me and we cried together as our kids danced. Very powerful, very emotional stuff. First Baby was so beautiful, what a lovely bride she made. She was so graceful that day, so engaging. She mingled and talked to everyone. In spite of the tragedy, it was a beautiful day.
I think Jake left her when he knew she had someone to care for her. He was there for her during some of her roughest times. He helped usher her into womanhood, helped make her the confident caring person she is today. He was a good friend, a great teacher. He loved her wholeheartedly and really liked her fiancé. He turned her over to her future husband, and in the weird way of the universe, it was good that she had her wedding right after he died. She had to focus on something else for six hours, she couldn’t fall apart for that time, but she got to be surrounded by family and friends and caring people.