The Wedding

The Wedding

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

The Wedding

We often look so long and so regretfully at the closed door that we do not notice the one which has opened for us.

Helen Keller

I was going to have the perfect wedding. With May 6, 2000, on its way, my mother and I were actively planning for the “event of the century,” as we liked to call it. We would talk every day, and discussing the wedding plans made the two of us especially giddy, like nothing we had ever shared.

At the time, I was finishing up my commitment to the navy at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, and had been in a long-distance relationship with my fiancé, Paul, for the past three years. We met in Bath, Maine, where we were both part of the commissioning crews of two different guided missile destroyers.

The trick was that his ship was being stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and mine was going to Mayport, Florida. We had been engaged for two years, so time was not our enemy . . . but it was for my mother. She had been battling breast cancer for more than five years.

One day, my mother sat me down to talk about the possibility of her not being at my wedding. I had been telling her all along that she was the reason I was making such a spectacle of the day. I would have been happy with a small ceremony, but Mom would not hear of it. She wanted me to have everything I had ever dreamed of.

I only had two dreams growing up. One was to attend the Naval Academy and to throw my hat in the air with the other 895 midshipmen of the class of 1995. The other was to be married under the classic dome of the United States Naval Academy Chapel with ten men waiting outside in their starched whites, swords drawn, waiting to welcome me into married life, navy style.

So I gave her my word that I would have an “extravagant” wedding, even in her absence, because, honestly, I never thought it would come to that. I remember her hugging me after I promised and whispering in my ear, “I will have the best seat in the house on May 6.” I hugged her tighter and said a little prayer right then and there. I had a great relationship with God; I didn’t see any reason that he wouldn’t help me with this one.

About six months later, my mother lost her fight with breast cancer. I had trouble accepting the fact that she was gone, and I kept imagining and dreaming that she would show up on my wedding day. My mom wasn’t just a mom; she was my friend, my confidante and my rock. No matter what was going on in my life, with her by my side, I could accomplish anything. I just couldn’t imagine life without her.

My wedding day drew nearer. The chapel, the reception and the rehearsal dinner were all set according to the plan. My fiancé and I were going to make this the perfect weekend getaway not only for us, but also for our family and friends.

I left the navy and was spending a few weeks with Paul in Hawaii before I found a job. We were at a ship function when his captain made the announcement that Paul had been dreading to share with me. The situation in the Gulf was heating up, and his ship’s deployment was moved from July to April. When the captain uttered those words, my body froze and my breath shortened. My first thought was May 6, the date my mom would be at the chapel to watch her baby walk down the aisle. I know the average and sane person would assume my mom would get the word and would be there whatever date we got married. But May 6 was the date she planned to be at the chapel.

Paul’s captain looked over at me, and I’ll remember that moment forever. He grabbed my hand and promised he’d try to do everything in his power to have Paul there.

We went ahead with the wedding planning, and Paul and I decided that we’d go ahead with the celebration, with or without his presence. He deployed to the Gulf as newly scheduled, on April 6. Every spare minute I had I was locked onto the headlines as I prayed for peace and for no events to stand in the way of his flight to Washington.

My dad, my sister, Katie, and I all met in Annapolis to do the last-minute planning. My mother’s absence was glaring. On our arrival, we went to visit the chapel, which was open and empty. We walked through the large doors and stood at the back, staring up at the breathtaking colors of the stained glass that fills the space with spirituality.

All of a sudden, “Taps” began playing. There was no one around, no one playing on the organ, no one checking out the acoustics of the dome, just “Taps” playing loudly, echoing through the chapel. We walked around and then stood once again at the back. The three of us looked at each other, comforted and moved by the music. As we left, the music stopped, but the solace it gave me that day has remained with me.

God came through on my wedding day. God knew I needed something to let me know my mother was still there for me, and he gave it to me that special day in the chapel where “Taps” provided me the most comfort of all. It was then that I understood that she was with me not only on that day, but always.

God gave me a mother who built my wedding dream with me, who touched my life and continues to touch my life in amazing ways. He gave Paul and me a courageous and understanding commanding officer who truly understood that, if at all possible, navy families come first. Paul’s captain is my hero.

Paul made the wedding.

Krystee Kott

More stories from our partners