Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 16
“Come Annalisa, it’s time to open your gifts.” Sandy motioned me to a round table stacked with gift bags.
“I am afraid. Is it safe?” I laughed, moving to the table.
“Be very afraid!” Sandy teased.
She read the name of each giver then handed me the gift while Kay took notes. Screams of joy erupted from my lips as I read each card and opened the gift. I received couple’s games, gifts cards and unique appealing lingerie of all types, colors, shapes and descriptions.
Then it happened!
Sharp intakes of breath and gasping sounds filled the air.
I felt hot and bothered just by looking at them—a black lace spaghetti strap body suit and edible underwear. I made a loud gasping sound, creating hysterical laughter in the room. Some of the ladies laughed so hard that they clutched their chests while others collapsed in their chairs.
Then, we were hit again with another shock and awe moment!
Spontaneous outbursts of “Noooooo” and groans came from the group as I displayed a home wrecker—a ghastly multicolored floral flannel housedress.
“Check the pockets,” Renita called out amidst the laughter.
“Pheeeew,” I exhaled. Thankfully, a pink sheer bikini along with the matching bra was hidden in one of the pockets. Chuckles broke out as I gazed in amazement at them. The pieces were so tiny that I deliberated where to tie them on my body.
“Where am I going to put these?” I asked, totally bewildered, bringing much laughter to the group.
“Anna, this is what you do.” Renita stood up and explained dramatically. “After an argument with Orane, slip this housedress over the lingerie. Then say, “Goodnight Orane” and let the housedress fall to the ground.”
Girlish giggles welled up in me and raucous laughter erupted all over the room.
After all the gifts were opened, I cut a beautiful cake labeled “Congratulations Annalisa” and then I insisted that I served the cake to the lovely ladies. While we ate, I listened to their advice on relationship and marriage.
Don’t start anything in the relationship that you do not plan to continue
Do not go to bed angry
Never say no to sex
Buy a chandelier
Don’t keep the same routine
Keep it spicy
“Thank you ladies!” I beamed. “I appreciate all that you have done and all your gifts. I am eternally grateful to you and I feel highly favored. God bless you all.”
I was surprised by the thought that went into each gift. The ladies did not only give me an enjoyable bridal shower and much needed gifts but memories that I will cherish forever.
Half an hour later, I arrived home. Orane was nowhere in sight. “Orane, where are you?” I called out.
“I’m coming.” He ran down the stairs. “Mrs. Conway, you’re back?”
“Yes I am, Mr. Conway,” I grinned at him. “I need help. The trunk is full.”
“Not a problem. Is it open?”
“Yes! But don’t look at my goodies.”
“Why not?” Mischief was written all over his face. “My bad!” He chuckled at my expression then disappeared into the garage.
I held the door as he entered with a stack of my gifts. “Honey, please put them on the washing machine,” I requested, opening the door of washing area, near the stairs.
In a few trips, all my gifts were packed away. “Thanks love.” I patted his back as he closed the door leading to the wash room.
“Come on, give me a hug,” he said, pulling me in his arms. “Mmm! This feels so good.”
“Yes it does.”
His head angled as he leaned in for a kiss. I pointed to my cheek and he began to trail soft kisses towards my lips.
“Naughty, naughty!” I scolded him playfully.
“No. Want more,” he murmured, reaching for me as I pulled away.
“Look at you!” I teased. “You’re biting off more than you can chew.”
“Not nice, after all the work I did.”
“You will be duly compensated.”
“Yes!” he jumped in the air. “I am counting. There were a few times…”
“Yes love.” I winked at him. “We have a life time to take care of all of that.”
“Oh come on!” he teased with open arms.
“Tempting but no!”
“Fine! I’m going upstairs. You’ll be begging me to come down,” he said proudly, marching up the stairs.
“You know I will Honey. You know I will,” I said, grinning at his back.
Two days later, Orane and I drove to the airport in the early morning light, sometimes talking and at other times silent, just enjoying each other. We knew that our times together would always be precious.
“I will call you later,” he said, reassuringly as we stood on the curb in the departure area.
“Okay Honey.” I managed a half smile. We had devised a departure strategy; albeit, not an exciting one—I would leave him in the departure area and keep going.
“Come here my baby,” he said smiling and I walked into his open arms. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I purred softly, almost giddy from his light kisses on my forehead. Reluctantly, I pulled away but not before reaching forward and brushing my lips lightly against his. “Bye. Have a good flight.”
“Bye Babes, see you soon,” he said, gazing tenderly at me.
I smiled at him. “See you soon!”
He exhaled loudly. It was the smile he wanted to see.
With that, I mustered up all my courage and jumped in my car. My heart clenched and my throat closed as I drove away. Tears flowed and I just allowed them to…until my tear ducts were dry.
Equally excited about our upcoming nuptials, the ladies at my church hosted a second bridal shower for me. I arrived at the church hall on a cool Sunday afternoon to find a large rectangular table laden with all kinds of goodies and a beautiful cake labeled “Congratulations, Annalisa & Orane”.
It was fun to be surrounded by great women of God, playing games, laughing and eating. Anaya took on the role of moderator and once again, Kay took notes as I opened each amazing gift. Orane and I scored some pretty sweet loot. Our kitchen and bathrooms were perfectly outfitted because of the generosity of these ladies.
Later, Kay recorded as I listened to their advice.
Leave and cleave
Establish home rules first using God’s word
Marriage is a journey. Put God first always and trust him
Always remember the three Cs—Communicate, Compromise and Cuddle
In all you do, seek the Lord first so that He can direct your path
Enjoy each other, love each other and spend time with each other
As you get closer to God, you will get closer to each other
Keep God in the center of your relationship
Stay away from divorce court
Read Psalm 71
Pray together every day and love God more than each other
Make each other the focus and never say no…
Do not tell all your girlfriends about your marital problems
Keep your own individuality
Love one another and be good to each other
Talk about finances
Pick your battles
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Love never hurts especially after the honeymoon
Set the rules from day one, for example prayer times
Protect your husband
Support your husband in his calling
Never have a comfort zone
Watch your tongue
Pray, have faith and love
Later that evening, I was floating on air from an absolutely delightful time spent with the wonderful spirit-filled ladies. Orane and I were certainly blessed by their extraordinary love and tremendous support.
I am getting married!
It suddenly hit me like a sack of cold potatoes on my last day at work before leaving for my wedding. I sat at my desk way past my departure time. My nerves were shot and I felt terrified. Eventually, I pulled myself away and begged my co-workers not to say goodbye or any mushy stuff.
I walked to my car feeling a sense of loss as if I was leaving everything behind. During my mental anguish, I wrestled with returning to the office because I had not said bye to Sandy. She had not returned from an early morning meeting. As I contemplated calling her cell phone, I saw Renita walking towards me.
“Renita!” I greeted her with a half-smile.
She looked at me excitedly. “Leaving for your big day? Let me accompany you to your car.”
“Thanks,” I responded half-heartedly.
“Why are you looking like that?”
“I don’t know. I just feel so…emotional.”
“It can’t be Orane because I know you love him. Are you sad because you are leaving us?”
“I don’t know. I…” Tears welled up in my eyes as we entered my car. I did not utter a word as I drove Renita back to the office.
She gently patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry! You’ll be alright. Think happy thoughts.”
I stopped the car and gave her a slight smile. “I didn’t say goodbye to Sandy.”
“She knows you’re leaving but you can call her.”
I called Sandy but I could barely speak, tears began to flow.
“Anna, where are you?” Sandy asked.
“I am outside the office.”
“Wait, I’m coming.”
In a matter of minutes, Sandy was standing at my car door. Her light brown eyes were filled with concern as she gently rubbed my shoulder. “Why are you crying?”
I dabbed my eyes then looked at her. “I don’t know.’
“It just nerves, don’t worry. You’ll be alright. You will have an amazing time,” Sandy said comfortingly.
I gave her a slight smile. “Yes, I will. I wanted to say goodbye.”
“Have a safe trip.” Sandy smiled at me then proceeded to dance around. “It’s time for fun! Have a blast!”
A soft giggle escaped me. “I will try.” I exited the car and gave her a hug. “Thanks. I am going to make it.”
“Yes, you will,” she said reassuringly.
“Have fun Anna.” Renita hugged me.
“I will,” I said, climbing back into the driver’s seat. I managed a half smile. “Thank you, ladies. Bye!”
“Bye!” they responded cheerfully.
I drove off with the memories of their smiling faces.
I smiled widely. Indeed, just nerves!
A sense of relief hit me as I thought of my loving supportive family, friends and coworkers. I knew that prayers were going up. I recalled my email to our bridal party, family members and friends, nearly two weeks ago.
My Prayer Warrior Family Members & Friends!
Happy Monday! Hope all is well with you and your families.
I need your assistance with respect to fasting and praying for our (Orane & I) wedding and marriage. I know many of you have been praying and fasting but I would like to dedicate this week (Sunday—Saturday) to prayer and fasting. In particular, this Wednesday is a day of fasting. Let’s send our praises up to heaven so that what is established in heaven will be done on earth in our marriage.
Thank You! Have a blessed week!
Later at home, I took a break from packing and stretched out on my bed. A smile broke out on my face as I thought of my delightful season; a beautiful time, perhaps the most beautiful season I had been through. Granted, I had been through many wonderful seasons but this season was far different from anything I had experienced. God was awesome, showing up in every little detail of our wedding plans.
Everything was lined up to perfection.
A strange phenomenon?
No. I call it miraculous.
And speaking of the miraculous, I must confess that at this point, being single seemed but a distant memory. How could it be? Did God design it this way? I was single and happy. Yet, getting married added a new dimension to my happiness. I was happy, undeniably happy.
I surprised myself with the mature approach I took towards my relationship with Orane. Evidently, the days of waiting for my husband taught me valuable lessons. I was so glad that I waited. The time was right and I was ready for the newness. All my dreams and desires were about to be fulfilled on a whole new level.
Secretly in my heart, I was looking forward to the novelty of being a wife. Wife! That would definitely be a new title. What kind of wife would I be? I had set my mind to be a great wife. I had asked for God’s help in this regard. I had to. This was all new territory and I preferred to cover all my bases. I planned to enter my marriage fully equipped. I had set my mind to stay committed and in love with my husband.
So, full steam ahead!
CHAPTER 26: LET IT RAIN
I woke in a daze, to the heat of the morning and sounds outside my bedroom window. May melted into June producing a stream of hot days and warm nights. It was summertime! Jamaica’s climate was hot, very hot and humid. I peeked through my bedroom window and saw Maydine raking leaves and Mr. Mohan feeding the dogs in the distance.
“Good morning, Sister Maydine,” I called out.
Maydine looked startled then a bright smile appeared on her face. “Anna, good morning! Sorry to disturb your beauty rest.”
My nose tickled. “Not a problem. Ah…achoo!”
“Bless you, Mrs. Conway!” Maydine smiled at me.
I grinned at her coyly. “Thank you mother. I’ll be out shortly.”
Reaching for the bible on the bedside table, I meditated on Psalm 23 and prayed. Twenty minutes later, I kicked off the sheets, hit the shower and dressed in a pair of red cotton capris and white tank top with a splash of red hearts on the front.
Prior to my arrival, I had made a list of things to do, so after breakfast I immediately started on the list. Wedding paraphernalia were laid out all over Maydine’s guest room.
Humming, I took up the stack of unfinished wedding programs and began to glue red ribbon with a tiny red bow at the center, across the top of each. Maydine sat on the bed and folded the programs.
“You are all about love.” Maydine smiled, pointing at my tank top.
I smiled at her. “All about love.”
“The programs are beautiful,” she commented.
“Thanks. Anaya did a great job.” I paused for a moment from my labor to peruse one of the folded programs. Anaya had spent hours designing them and the menu cards. My ‘baby sister’ was extremely creative.
My eyes widened.
Do not panic, I cautioned myself.
“Noooo!” I shrieked, pointing to the error on the program then falling backwards on the bed. The words had shifted on the back page.
“Okay, let’s see,” Maydine said calmly, ignoring my melodrama. She inspected the programs. “Half of them have the error,” she concluded.
“I am not panicking,” I said in a dry voice.
“We can reprint.”
“Yes. I have the program in my email or on my jump drive.”
“You need special paper,” Maydine remarked. “Let me call Harriett and see if she can help.” After a quick call to Harriett, the situation was resolved.
At midday, Orane joined us for lunch and later we used the time to firm up our schedule. From the sofa in Maydine’s living room, we confirmed transportation for our bridal party, immediate family members and overseas guests. In the midst of the planning, I began to cough excessively. I freaked out at the thought of getting sick, now, of all times. Sensing that I was catching the flu, Maydine gave me a homemade remedy before leaving for a church event with Mr. Mohan.
“Babes, you don’t look yourself,” Orane said,
I exhaled loudly. “I’m feeling exhausted and a little off balance.”
“Not good. Come, let’s pray.”
After he prayed, Orane fell backward onto the cushions, arms flopping loosely over his head. “Annalisa, you need rest.” He eyed me with concern. “Come here,” he said, hugging me close. “Please rest. I don’t want you to be sick.”
“Yes, Honey,” I said comfortingly, running my hands gently down his chest. “I’ll get in bed early.”
Orane gazed at me, capturing my chin between his thumb and forefinger. He briefly ran the pad of his index finger over my eyebrows. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as I shuddered under the onslaught of his touch. He planted a kiss on my forehead before standing.
“I am leaving. You need to hit the sack now,” he announced.
“Noooo!” I groaned pouting. “I know you’re tired,” he insisted halfway through the door.
I followed closely on his heels. “Not that tired!”
“Come here!” He gently kissed me and I sighed contentedly. “Be a good girl while I am gone,” he said softly.
“I’ll try,” I responded with childlike innocence.
The low sound of his laughter followed him as he entered his car.
An hour later, I climbed into bed, hoping to ward off the flu like symptoms. Sleep did not come as quickly as I anticipated. I was not accustomed to going to bed this early and my intermittent coughing did not help. Nevertheless, thoughts of Orane and our wedding day skittered through my mind as I tossed and turned.
“Sickness is not a part of the plan. Lord, I receive my healing,” I declared boldly.
Turning on the lamp on the nightstand, I began to read a novel which I found in Maydine’s study. I made it through a few chapters before my eyes grew watery and heavy. Laying the book on the nightstand, I dimmed the lamp and snuggled into my pillow. Thankfully my coughing had somewhat subsided.