The morning of June 28th 1985 started bright and early for me. It was the day before, what was going to be the best day of my life. The day I had dreamed about as a little girl, the day I had talked about as a teenage girl and the day I had planned for as an engaged girl. My wedding day.
I was a dreamer by nature. With my head in the clouds most of the time, I was forever dreaming of the most wonderful things. Hoping, planning, thinking and dreaming of the endless possibilities my life would hold. And this day, the day before our wedding was going to be perfect, just like I had always dreamed it would be.
Although my mom and I had planned for a year, there was still some loose strings that needed to taken care of. We had family and friends coming in from Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Alaska and Mississippi that needed to be greeted and showed around town. There were phone calls to be made, details to be finalized, food to buy and bags to pack. I needed to write thank you cards to those who were helping, wrap the gifts for my brides maids and decorate the sanctuary and fellowship hall. And in the midst of all that, we had a bridal tea scheduled for me and my brides maids at one of my moms best friends house, a true southern tradition.
While I was running around like crazy, Devin was his usual calm, in control self. Never flustered, never overwhelmed, and as always, the calm in my storm. Oh how I loved that man, the smell of his skin, the warmth if his body, the strength of his hands, how he took control of situations, while never making me feel out of control or inferior. He was the perfect balance of strength, wisdom, integrity and humility…and he was perfect for me.
That afternoon, I met with my five bridesmaids and attend the bridal tea. I had always envisioned having seven bridesmaids, but when I told Devin he needed seven groomsmen, his eyes widened as he replied, “seven?? I don’t even have seven friends!” I was dumbfounded by this statement. “How can you not have seven friends? I have hundreds and you can’t come up with seven guys?” “No”, he said profoundly, “I can’t”. “How about five?” I asked sarcastically, “do you have five friends?” He hesitated for a minute and said, “yeah maybe I can dig up five.” After that near tragedy, I asked five of the best friends a girl could ever have. Ginger and Kay, my room mates from college, Selina and Sissy my cousins that were more like sisters, and my forever friend from high-school, Lynne.
The day flew by and before I knew it, it was time for the wedding rehearsal. The entire wedding party gathered for a quick run through. We played the music, rehearsed the songs, coached the kids how to walk slowly with a smile, and showed everyone where to stand. It was all perfect. After we were finished it was time for the rehearsal dinner. The dinner had been a source of contention from the beginning for Devin and I. When Devin found out he had to pay for everyone to eat a full meal he was not happy, then when I told him what it was going to cost he almost swallowed his tongue. “Why do we even have to feed these people anyway?”, he protested, “we don’t do it like this in Verdigris, we just throw them some nuts and a piece of cake and call it good! Why do they need an entire meal?” Frustrated with his lack of culture and common courtesy I said, “first of all, we are not in Verdigris, we are in Mobile Alabama, and here we feed our guests! Second of all, cake and peanuts are for the wedding reception, not the rehearsal! And thirdly, I have waited all my life for this wedding and we are having a rehearsal dinner with real food and you have to pay for it!”
After we had eaten our “full meal” rehearsal dinner and enjoyed our guests one last time before calling it a night, after the clean up was compleat and the guests had gone home, Devin and I found a few quiet moments alone. We had been so busy with the wedding and his internship it felt like we hadn’t seen each other in days. As we stood there, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of overwhelming joy and satisfaction with the man who held me so close in his arms. I had heard all my life that God has someone for everyone. Now here I was, standing in the church parking lot, under a dimly lit street light with God’s perfect will for my life. I looked up at him with a smile and said something I had said many times before, “Devin Rohr, out of all the boys on CBC’s campus, and all the men in the whole wide world, I choose you to be my husband.” He chuckled and said, “you mean out of all your men, you like me the most?” I stood high on my tippy toes, kissed him firmly and said with absolute certainty, “yes I do!” We stood in the church parking lot as long as we could. With it being customary for the groom not to see his bride before the wedding, we knew this would be the last time we would get to see each other for a while.
As we said our good byes the dark of the night, out of nowhere, a car came racing through the parking lot then came to an abrupt stop right beside us. The door flew up and out jumped my bridesmaids. They ran over, tied a blindfold over my eyes and said, “sorry Devin but we’re kidnapping your fiancé! See you tomorrow!”
They threw me in the back of the car, took my cloths off and re-dressed me in a crazy outfit with a bright pink hat, high-heeled shoes and white socks. Then they pinned a sign on my back that read, “laugh at me, I’m getting married tomorrow”. I had no idea where they were taking me or what they were going to make me do. With the blindfold still firmly in place, they paraded me throughout town. First to Mc. Donald’s to buy some food, then on to chuck Cheese Pizza, forcing me to ride the kiddy rides and jump in the big bin of plastic balls. Although i could see nothing, I could here strange people laughing at me in the background.
Finally, after every ounce of dignity I had, had been taken from me, and every trick up their sleeves had been performed, it was time for us to call it a night. It had been planned earlier in the week that all of the girls would spend the night at my parents house. When we finally made it home, we all crashed from sheer exhaustion. We made pallets on the floor in the living room and giggled and talked just like we used to do as kids. Before I knew it everyone was fast asleep but me.
It was now early morning and I was still wide awake, my head and heart was full of excitement and bursting with joy. I got up from the floor, drug my blanket with me to the den and curled up on the couch. It was dark and quiet as I thought about how this would be my last night in the house as a single girl, how bittersweet it must be for my mom and how in less than 24 hours I would officially be Mrs. Tonya Rohr, just as Devin had written in the sand some fifteen months before.
I could finally feel my mind slowing down and my eyes growing heavy. I knew sweet sleep was soon to be had. But before I was to drift off I had to pray one last and final time. “Dear Lord, thank you so much for giving Devin to me. Tomorrow is our big day, the day I’ve prayed about and waited for. It’s the day I marry the man of my dreams, my hero, my partner. I believe with all my heart that he is your perfect will for my life, but if I am wrong Lord, if I have made a mistake, please tell me and I will not marry him, I promise. Amen.” It took every ounce of courage I had to pray that prayer one last time but I trusted that God knew best. As I lay curled up on the couch in the quite of the night I listened intently and waited…He never said no. To be continued…