Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 15
He nodded vigorously. “There will be financial sacrifices but because of my occupation, I will visit more often.”
“Thanks Honey, that’s very thoughtful of you. We will prepare a schedule for our visits.”
He took bite of his chocolate cake before saying, “It will take some time for my visa to be processed and that will give me enough time to wrap up my business ventures here.”
“Have you thought about living in the United States?”
“No. Like I told you before, I never thought of living anywhere except Jamaica. I am going to leave that to the Holy Spirit.”
A soft sighed escaped my lips.
“No. It’s not a bad thing,” he said reassuringly. “I trust the Lord.”
“Thanks Honey. You know, I’ll be praying.”
“We will be praying,” he corrected me.
“Yes,” I nodded in agreement.
“Our times together will be precious,” he said. “So, when we are together…” I blushed as he paused and gazed into my eyes. “We must to take advantage of those special times.”
I felt my cheeks burning so I looked away. “Yes,” I murmured coyly.
My whole world flipped as I felt his fingertips softly stroking my cheek, infusing my mind with thoughts that could not be expressed. I sensed that he could see what was going on within me, deep within me.
He held my hand then kissed it. “I love you,” he said passionately. “I have never come across anyone like you in my entire life. Our relationship is a special gift from God and I will cherish it forever.”
I smiled tenderly at him and agreed. “Forever.”
“Amen,” he declared.
At dawn two days later, Orane and I travelled to the airport in silence. Parting again! He reached over and held my hand as I wept. “Babes, don’t cry. It’s going to be alright. Please don’t cry.”
I sobbed even louder.
He was on autopilot, trying to hold it together. Soon, he too was teary eyed. I stared through the window into the darkness knowing that many more days like this were ahead.
“Babes, it’s going to be alright,” he consoled me as we pulled up to the departure area.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to,” I said, clutching his hand and putting my head on his shoulder.
He kissed me on my forehead and wrapped me in his arms.
I exhaled loudly.
“Look at me,” he said holding my shoulders. “This is not goodbye. It’s see you later.” He made a funny face and soft giggles escaped me. “There’s my baby. Let’s move before they tow us.”
Orane took out my suitcases and carry-on from the trunk and we hugged.
“I’m not going,” I whispered.
He kissed my cheek tenderly. “I love you. See you soon.”
“I love you too. See you soon.”
With that, I disengaged from our embrace and moved quickly towards the revolving door, resisting the urge to look back. Walking away from him was one of the hardest things I had ever experienced. I gritted my teeth to hold back the tears as I checked in.
A few minutes later, I boarded the aircraft with everything in me screaming, No! I do not want to do this. A strangled sob escaped me as the aircraft taxied down the runway and I gazed blindly out the window trying to hide my tears. A light touch on my hand disrupted my despair. “Are you okay?” I glanced to my right, into the concerned eyes of the passenger sitting next to me. I nodded avoiding her eyes.
“It’s going to be alright,” she said reassuringly. “It’s going to be alright.”
Later during the flight, she introduced herself as Sherry and our conversation flowed naturally even though at the beginning, I was somewhat reserved. However, as our conversation progressed, I felt comfortable enough to tell her about my engagement. A bright smile lit her face as she clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Congratulations!”
“Thank you!” I responded with a half-smile.
Sherry eyed me. “Now I understand your tears.”
She informed me that her husband resided in Jamaica but she worked in Miami. Our common situation laid the foundation for the rest of our conversation. “It will get easier,” Sherry said knowingly.
I thanked God for providing Sherry, a comforting angel at a time when I needed one most.
CHAPTER 22: SHOPPING TIME
“Come on Annalisa, let’s see the hand.”
I could not recall who made that statement as I entered my office but my cover was blown. Soon, my co-workers heard the news of my engagement. Some offered assistance with planning while others offered tips on married life. Sandy was particularly elated to see that her labor was not in vain. “Way to go Annalisa.” She grinned at me. “You’re back with the ring. High Five!”
Lyn, a wonderful friend and co-worker, emailed me a link to access a free wedding planner. This detailed planner turned out to be just what I needed. Lyn and I started taking walks during lunch, just to keep me fit and trim for all my upcoming wifely duties and activities.
Support came from many quarters as news of our upcoming nuptials spread. Our wedding coordinators worked tirelessly to ensure that our vision became a reality. We could not have asked for a better team, they exuded much care in the process. Emails flew back and forth with suggestions and new ideas.
Melissa had waited patiently for this day to come and I could not have asked for a better maid of honor. Night after night, she and I ironed out the fine details of the wedding plan.
Melissa emailed me during this period:
My sister, my friend,
How great is our God, sing with me! How great is our God, Hallelujah! How great, how great is our God!
I love you so much. I admire and appreciate you. I am overjoyed for you and God’s obvious pleasure over you, His precious, faithful daughter. Ah indeed, great is His faithfulness.
It was a great and special day when God brought us together…and kept us together. Thank you Lord, for your grace and goodness to us.
Right back at you! God makes no mistakes. As I look over my life, God has truly blessed me with the gift of friends who are more like sisters. I am truly honored that you are my sister, my friend and my maid of honor. I could not have asked God for a more perfect friendship.
Even Orane noticed that we have a special friendship. It is not only you but your entire household and extended family. You have all been a blessing to me. God is faithful and I am humbled by the love and support that Orane and I are receiving as we get married. We have brought joy to a lot of people, including our families. We seek to use our marriage as a testimony of God’s faithfulness.
Thank you my sister! You have been a great example to me in your walk with the Lord and your married life. I love you with all my heart and will always be there for you and your family. Thanks for touching my life with good things from day one and forever. Have a wonderful day!
My sisters pulled out all the stops so that their baby sister could have it all.
All of it!
Nothing was off limit as they shared their love, time, talents and money.
Orane joyfully embraced his role to attire the groomsmen. I solicited the help of the bridesmaids with the selection of their gowns. However, since none of the bridesmaids lived in Tallahassee, Anaya and I spent countless hours at different bridal stores in search of the perfect gown. Anaya fitted several gowns and I took pictures with my cell phone and emailed them to our bridesmaids. After numerous fittings and several emails, we all agreed to purchase the gorgeous apple red gowns from Zandee Bridal Shop.
“How’s your gown shopping going?” Maydine asked, during our telephone conversation.
“More like not going,” I grimaced, reclining in the sofa at home.
“I thought you had worked through your issues.”
I sighed deeply. “Still working.”
This may sound a little bit strange but it’s the truth.
Shopping for my bridal gown was not th
I was astonished by my own reaction.
But…I am still learning about me.
I visited a few bridal shops with friends to look at bridal gowns and I was scared stiff. Yes! Scared stiff! The task was extremely daunting. Half of the store looked like a ‘sea of whiteness” so I literally fled from the bridal section. I calmed my nerves by looking at potential bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories.
Phew! An overwhelming sense of relief would hit me after leaving the bridal shops.
I contemplated browsing the internet to view gowns but fitting would be an issue. So, I did what any well thinking Christian woman would do. I took the situation to God Almighty who knows me best. I asked the Lord to show me the right wedding gown.
As I anticipated, God did not disappoint. Harriett visited for a few days and I made another visit to Zandee Bridal Shop. Without warning, my inner warrior arose.
“I am interested in looking at bridal gowns,” I said to the store clerk.
“Great! This way please. I will get you a wedding consultant.”
A few minutes later, the store clerk returned with a smiling lady who introduced herself as Sally Henderson.” Sally took us to her desk and I completed a form which captured information about our wedding.
“We have a process to select your gown,” Sally said enthusiastically. “Please look through this catalog and identify the gowns you would like to fit.”
“Thanks! I will,” I responded.
“I’ll be back shortly to answer any questions that you may have,” Sally said as she handed me a post-it pad.
“Thank you.” This was even better than I thought. Suddenly, the selection of my wedding gown was not so overwhelming. I should have asked for assistance on my first visit but I was too busy running scared.
Harriett looked over my shoulder as I marked my few choices. My spirit quickened as I laid eyes on a white satin A-line gown. This was the vision that I had in mind.
I fitted my other selections before fitting that particular gown. What do you know? The gown fitted like a glove, no adjustment needed. “Wow! You look gorgeous!” Harriett clapped her hands enthusiastically as I exited the changing room. “It’s perfect.”
“Thank you!” I was dizzy with excitement as I glanced at myself in the full length mirror. Stunning!
And just like that, I found my wedding gown.
As I slipped out of the gown, my eyes caught sight of its size.
“Sally, what is the meaning of this?” I asked playfully. “I usually wear a size six or at most a size eight.”
“Not to worry, the size of your bridal gown would be one size up from your regular dress size.” I looked deep into Sally’s eyes to see if she was pulling a fast one on me. She grinned. “I’m not kidding. It’s the truth.”
I smiled at her. “Okay. I’ll take your word for it.”
It turned out that Sally was right.
CHAPTER 23: GOOD NEWS
Orane arrived in Tallahassee in late spring. With our big day set for summer and tons of preparations still going on, we took on the task of compiling our guest list. Reality kicked in quickly! Our budgetary constraints gave us much needed perspective, so we settled our guest list at immediate family members and close friends.
Two days after Orane arrived, we took on the task of purchasing a wedding band for him. Eventually, after making trips to several jewelry stores, we found bands that suited our budget and taste. Orane wanted a plain band but I convinced him that a unique band with three perfect diamonds was a better bang for the buck.
The search to purchase a tuxedo for him became a little troublesome and time consuming. While tuxedos were available, the tuxedo we wanted had to be ordered in advance and Orane would no longer be in Tallahassee, to fit it. In the end, we decided to rent.
“We are making progress,” Orane remarked as he browsed our wedding plan. We were seated on the sofa at my home, still knee deep in wedding planning. I placed the copy of Modern Bride that I was reading on the stack of bridal magazines on the coffee table.
“Great progress. Everyone has been so supportive.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “Did you receive the invitations?” he asked.
“Yes. I told you. You forgot.” I had purchased beautiful pearl colored wedding invitations written in brilliant gold ink and assigned Maydine the duties of calligrapher and Aunt Joy as her assistant.
Orane gave me his full attention. “I believe you did…mention it.”
“Hmm!” I chuckled. “You’re at the age when you need to start keeping notes, not mental ones.” He threw a cushion at me and I squealed, “Help! I’m being abused.”
“Naughty woman!” he chuckled, tickling my side.
“Behave!” I giggled, escaping his fingers.
“What’s next?” he asked.
“I’m about to email the members of our wedding party so that they are clear about their roles. You can finalize the list of your family members and friends.”
“I noticed how conscientious you are about planning.”
“I am.” I eyed him. “And I’m about to be super conscientious 157 about this, because on that day, I’ll have eyes only for you.”
Orane chuckled. “Only on that day!”
I knitted my eyebrows cutting into his hilarity. “You better pray not.”
He winced. “We wouldn’t want that now.”
My face dissolved in a smile and he laughed softly, shaking his head before gently patting my knee.
“I am marrying a Godly woman.”
I pouted innocently. “I will always have eyes for you.”
He picked up my hand and toyed with my fingers. “Mmmm. I like the sound of that.”
We gazed at each other smiling and in a flash, we found ourselves leaning in until our noses were almost touching. My heart hammered and my lips parted eagerly in anticipation. Phew! The intensity was broken by the ringing of the phone. Orane exhaled slowly as we eyeballed each other.
“There is time,” he said softly, brushing his hand across my cheek.
“I…I’m going to get that,” I mumbled, still shaken from the adrenalin rush.
An angel to save the day!
I took the cordless phone from its cradle on the counter, absentmindedly playing with my hair.
“Hey Annalisa, sorry to disturb you guys but I have good news.”
“Arianna, how is it going? I could do with good news,” I responded, moving back to the sofa.
“Great! The honeymoon spot you guys wanted has worked out. I will…”
“Thank you Lord! Thanks Ari! Wait a minute Ari.” I grabbed Orane’s hand and my eyes bulged with excitement as I animatedly told him the good news.
“That’s wonderful!” he said enthusiastically.
The selection of the honeymoon spot was Orane’s baby. At first, it was top secret then he ran the location by me. He was bent on traveling to Europe but I persuaded him to let us spend our honeymoon in Jamaica. So, we narrowed our choices to three 5-star luxury hotels on the western side of Jamaica. Enter Arianna with hotel connections plus the desire to make a significant contribution to our wedding.
“Ari, thanks so much!” I beamed.
“You’re welcome. Call the hotel and ask for Matthez Zichy. Give him your exact dates.”
“I sure will. Thank you!”
“No problem. I will send you a check as we discussed. The outstanding amount won’t be much for you guys to cover.”
“Thanks. You’re a blessing!”
“Anytime! I’ll see you soon.”
“Bye and thanks again.”
I set the phone back on its cradle.
Wonderful! Just wonderful!
“God is good!” Orane said when I rejoined him on the sofa.
I nodded vigorously. “Yes, He is!”
“Annalisa!” Orane’s voice was calm and soothing, but there was an edge in it.
“Yes,” I responded, wondering what could possibly be wrong.
His face was somber. “Change is coming,” he declared in a deep dramatic voice.
I could not help but laugh. “You are funny.”
“Admit it, I had you fooled,” he said, tickling my side.
“Stop,” I giggled, begging for mercy.
Orane smiled as he leaned back on the sofa.
I nudged him. “Are you ready for the change?”
“Like never before,” he said joyfully.
“Marriage will be quite a change!” I remarked.
“Yep! I hope you don’t want your toothpaste squeezed in a particular way.”
“Of course!” I poked his side. “But, I plan to choose my battles.”
“That’s your strategy going in? I have none.”
“Yes you do.” I grinned at him. “Live one day at a time.”
He chuckled softly. “Yes, that’s it. And place everything at the foot of the cross.”
“Is that a hint for me?” I questioned with raised eyebrows.
“No. Noooo,” he replied, chuckling softly.
“I know it will be a great change for us but we will give ourselves time to adjust. I’m ready.”
He gazed at me, just the way my heart wanted him to, and replied, “So am I.”
CHAPTER 24: SHOWERS OF JOY
Orane was still in Tallahassee when my coworkers rocked my world by throwing a lingerie shower in my honor. Sandy was ‘head cook and bottle washer’ (Jamaican phrase meaning person in charge). She sent Evite invitations to the ladies at work and coordinated all the activities surrounding the shower.
I arrived at Bellaire Restaurant and Lounge on that scheduled Saturday afternoon to find several smiling faces gathered around a long rectangular table. The ambience was perfect. We laughed at anything and everything in a relaxed and pleasant environment.
The fun was amplified when we went on a picture taking frenzy. Anaya took on the all-important role of photographer. A few minutes later, I leaned back in my chair feeling the absolutely divine effects from eating grilled chicken breast, baked potato and steamed vegetables. I sighed and closed my eyes. Ohhh! They may need to call Orane to roll me out of here.