Here is my heart
                      And I give it to you

March 17, 2015

Kemara secured the final wedding rehearsal photo and closed the scrapbook. JenniAnn had promised someone would bring it over to the reception that afternoon.

She stood up from the table and winced as her back protested hours of sitting. The sun was just peeking over the edge of the ocean and beginning to stream in the windows.

On impulse, she flung open the door and ran down the steps into the surf. Icy water from the rising tide splashed her nightgown, but she ignored it.

She lifted her face to the warm rays. “Thank You….so much. My heart’s just so full right now. I love You.”


“Coffee?” JenniAnn offered when Kemara walked into the Willowveil kitchen. Belle sat in her high chair attempting to feed herself oatmeal. She babbled excitedly when she saw Kemara.

The other woman put a hand over her stomach. “No, thanks. I could probably use it, but I’m so nervous I doubt it would stay down.” She dropped a kiss on the top of Belle’s head - the cleanest part of her at the moment. “Good morning, honey.”

“Didn’t sleep much?” her friend asked sympathetically.

Kemara sank into a chair. “No; I finished the scrapbook instead; it’s waiting on the coffee table - the glue still needs to dry a little. Are you the only ones up?”

“So far.” JenniAnn nodded. “Andrew gave Belle a small bottle about 4, and then he went back to sleep.”

Kemara raised her eyebrows. “I’m surprised all of the kids are still out.”

“I think they were up pretty late. Ciara tried to make them be quiet, but they were just too excited.”

“I’m glad they seem to be getting on well with Liam and Jacob. It’ll be good for them to have someone to play with at the reception.” Kemara got up and, going over to the refrigerator poured herself a glass of milk. She took a tentative sip, and carried it back to the table.

“How about some toast?” JenniAnn suggested. At Kemara’s nod, she put two slices of bread in the toaster. “We’ll make a big pan once everyone is up and then set out all the cereal for people to help themselves.”

Kemara smiled fondly at the brightly colored boxes lining the counter. “Froot Loops...Joshua’s favorite. I hope we see him today.”

“Me too.” The toast popped up and JenniAnn set the plate and the butter dish in front of Kemara. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” Kemara spread butter on a piece of toast and nibbled one corner. “Want some help?”

JenniAnn shook her head. “Nope. I’ve got it. You just sit and eat.”

Kemara watched as JenniAnn bustled around the kitchen: cleaning up Belle, setting out bowls and spoons and the pitcher of milk, readying more bread for the oven.

“Did I ever say, ‘thank you’ for doing all this?” she asked suddenly. “Letting our families stay here and take over your house and hosting the reception and the food and all?”

“It was my pleasure!” JenniAnn looked surprised. “You’re family, and I’m so glad we were able to help.”

Kemara got up and hugged her friend. When Andrew came into the kitchen he found them laughing and wiping away tears.

“Good morning! What’s all this?”

“Dada!” Belle squealed and held out her arms to him.

He went to her and lifted her out of the high chair. “Good morning, sweetheart.”

Kemara waved a hand. “I’m just being maudlin,” she said. She smiled at father and daughter. “I can’t wait to see Belle in her butterfly dress.”

“Or Liam in his suit!” JenniAnn added. “Monica made it just like Sean and Brad’s even down to the vest.”

“Oh, did you find a basket for Kelly to use?”

“Yes, we did,” Ciara said from the doorway. She was holding Erin, and Kelly stood beside her looking half asleep. “Mom has a silver one that will work great. Where are we feeding this bunch?” she asked JenniAnn.

JenniAnn gestured to the row of cereal boxes. “We’ll just park ‘em in the TV room with trays.”

Ciara shrugged. “Fine by me.” She grinned. “I’ll tell Brad he’s in charge of supervising.”

“Can I have some milk?” Kelly asked, yawning.

“Of course you can!” Kemara got a plastic cup a with picture from “Beauty and the Beast” on the front, and filled it with milk. “Here you go.”

Kelly had climbed onto Kemara’s vacated chair. “Thank you.” She picked up the discarded piece of toast and took a bite.

Ciara started to say something, but Kemara shook her head. “It’s OK. I was done anyway.”

Rose and Max appeared in the doorway. “Good morning! Oh, Kemara you’re here. Good! I’ve put all your stuff in the room your parents used.”

“Thanks. I’ll go hop in the shower then.” They had decided that the easiest way to style her and Ivy’s hair would be while it was still wet.


Kemara had just started down the fourth-floor hallway when the sound of a door opening made her turn around. Sean had just emerged from his room. When he saw her, he clapped both hands over his eyes.

“What’d you do that for?”

“I’m not supposed to see you!”

She pulled his hands away. He was grinning. “Silly….that’s only after I get all fancied up. Jeans and T-shirt is fine.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Oh, good. So, as much as I might wish it, I know you weren’t trying to sneak into my room.”

Kemara giggled. “Nope! Rose put all my clothes and makeup in the other bedroom. I came up to get my shower. And I’m locking the door, so don’t even try to peek,” she warned.

“Wouldn’t dream of it. I want to be surprised. But I wouldn’t care if you wore a St. Patrick’s Day T-shirt and jeans to get married in. You don’t need any ‘fancying up’.

She stretched up and kissed him. ‘Thank you. I’d better get ready.”

They parted reluctantly. “Oh, I almost forgot -” Kemara stopped with her hand on the guest room handle. “Ciara was going to make Brad supervise the little kids at breakfast in the TV room. You might want to steer clear.”

He pretended to shudder. “Thanks for the warning.”


Rose and JenniAnn had Kemara’s makeup and hair done by just after 9.

“Do you want Andrew to drive you over?” JenniAnn asked as she gathered up the makeup to leave the room clean for David and Joyce that night. “I’ve just got to get Belle dressed, but he’s ready.”

Kemara shook her head. “That’s OK. I’ll wait. Has Sean left yet?”

“I think I heard his door shut while we were doing your hair,” Rose said. “So probably.” She went behind Kemara and separated out a few more curls. “There! All done!”

Kemara gazed at herself in the full-length mirror that stood in a corner of the room. “I don’t even recognize myself. Thank you both!” She hugged them.

Her phone buzzed and she picked it up. “Mom says they should be at St. Mary Mags about 9:45.”

JenniAnn made a face. “I feel bad they have to get through rush-hour traffic this morning. I think we could’ve found room for them. “

“No, it’s OK.” Kemara hesitated. “Mom….she apologized to Sean and I last night about how she misjudged us and all our friends. I don’t think she was really in the mood to have everyone around after that.”

JenniAnn hugged her again. “Oh I’m so glad you were able to work it all out.”

“Yes,” said Rose, smiling. “Now you can leave tomorrow knowing that you’ve mended things with her.”

Kemara nodded. “Can I go with you to get Belle dressed?”

“Sure!" JenniAnn looked surprised. “But everyone will see you.”

“That’s OK. As long as it’s a surprise to Sean, I don’t care about the others. I have to ride over with y’all anyway.”

JenniAnn smiled. Her friend only “talked Southern” when she was nervous. “Alright. Let get the princess into her gown.”


Belle didn’t mind wearing the white dress with blue butterflies or having butterfly clips put in her dark curls. What she did object to were shoes.

“Noooo!” she screamed for the fifth time. JenniAnn and Andrew had both tried to put the soft navy Mary Janes on her, but she kicked and wailed.

“JenniAnn, it’s no big deal,” Kemara said. “She doesn’t need to wear them.” She sat down in a nearby chair and looked at her own heels. “I wish I could leave mine off.”

Belle, who had melted onto the floor in a puddle of tears, caught sight of her shoes. “Pitty!” she said, crawling over for a closer look.

Struck by inspiration, Kemara took Belle’s own slippers and held them up. “Yours are pretty too.”

Cautiously, Belle nodded.

“Can I put them on for you?”

Belle thought this over. “O-ay.” She said at last holding up one chubby foot.

JenniAnn and Andrew exchanged smiles.

“I’m glad that’s over,” he said. “I hate to see my little elf cry.”

“She really is,” JenniAnn agreed. “Sometimes I think it’s a wonder she’ll wear clothes at all.”

Kemara laughed. “I don’t blame her. Shoes can be bad.” She buckled the second Mary Jane. “Now you’ve got pretty feet, too!”

Belle pulled herself up and toddled over to stand beside Kemara’s chair. She looked down at their feet. “Pitty, pitty,” she said happily.


When they came downstairs five minutes later, they found Ciara waiting in the foyer with the little girls.

“Arthur and Monica took the boys, and Brad left with Sean about half an hour ago. But we decided to wait for you all.”

Kelly looked at Belle in JenniAnn’s arms and smiled. “We match!”

“You sure do!” JenniAnn said. “Are you excited?”

She nodded. “When do I get flowers?”

“At the church. We’ll give you a whole basketful!”

Andrew was counting noses as Ivy and Violeta clattered down the stairs. “Where are Max and Rose?”

“Oh, they’ve already gone, too,” Ciara said. “I knew I was forgetting someone! I think they took Max’s truck.”

“OK. I think we’ll all fit,” Andrew said. “Good thing we don’t have to go far though.”

When they drove through the portal, Kemara was a little sorry to see gray skies instead of sunshine, but even that couldn’t dampen her spirits.

Fr. Mike met them in the narthex. “Kemara! You look beautiful.” As he hugged her, he whispered. “Sean’s waiting in my office if you want a moment alone. You’re still planning to greet everyone out front?”

She nodded and kissed his cheek. “Thank you, Father Mike. For everything.”

“My pleasure. See you in a bit.”

JenniAnn watched as Kemara hurried down the hall. “Sean?” she mouthed to the priest and held up her camera. He nodded, and she followed the other woman.

Kemara stopped outside the door and took a deep breath before she pushed it open. Sean turned from where he had been standing at the window. Behind Kemara, JenniAnn took a quick photo of the groom’s stunned reaction before she slipped away.

For their part, the couple never noticed her.  

Sean walked up to Kemara, but made no move to embrace her as she had expected. She searched his face worriedly.


He raised a hand, but let it hover in the air.  “It’s’re so beautiful, I’m afraid to touch you.”

“Eejit….” She put her own hand on his cheek. “Of course you can. I won’t break.”

Gingerly, he wrapped his arms around her. ‘I don’t want to mess up your hair or anything. I love the little Celtic knots.”

Kemara sighed and relaxed into his embrace. “It’s got so much spray, I don’t think that’s possible, but I wouldn’t care if you did. And I’m going to get makeup on your suit.”

He shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. Did you sleep?” He rested his chin on the top of her head and swayed slightly.

“No. Warren and I sat up working the scrapbook and talking to Joshua - in my head, I mean. He wasn’t there physically.”

Sean chuckled. “I hope we’ll see him physically today.”

“I know we will. What about you? How did you sleep?” She pulled away and smoothed back a lock of red hair that fell stubbornly over his forehead. “I’m so glad you’re wearing your sword pin.”

“Seemed like a good day for it.” He shrugged. “I talked to Joshua for a while too, but I did manage to get a few hours.” He stepped back. “Let me look at you.”

She turned slowly so he could admire the dress from all angles, then lifted the hem to show off her shoes with their matching embroidery.

He turned her around again and ran one finger down her back where a silver ribbon laced the bodice closed. “Very nice….much easier to undo than buttons,” he teased putting his arms around her again. One hand fell to her waist, and he chuckled.

“So that’s what the brooch was for!” He toyed with it. “But it’s kinda low, don’t you think?”

Laughing, Kemara captured his hand and brought it to her lips. “Quit it! The last thing we need is for Father Mike to come in and find us all…”

“Excited?” Sean suggested innocently. “But we are, right? I’m very excited to be marrying you.”

He led her over to a chair and pulled her onto his lap. “Here, let’s sit. Might be the last alone time we have until tonight.”

“Yeah.” She shivered.

“What was that for?” He tightened his hold.

“I guess I’m a little….not scared exactly...but overwhelmed. Not just about today, but all of it.”

“Me too. We’ll figure it all out. We’re a good team, remember?”

She laughed. “That’s true.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the quiet.

He sighed. “Nice as this is, I’m sure people will start arriving soon. Why don't we pray before we go out there?”


There was another long silence while they waited for each other to speak.

“Honey, remember what Emma told you at Bible study the other night?” Sean said gently. “It's just like having a conversation with Joshua.”

“I know - and I did that this morning just fine. You start, and I'll join in.”

He shrugged. “Hey, Joshua! Today's the day and -”

“Wait! We need to include Maryam and Yosef in this conversation, too!”

“Oh right. Joshua, do you guys have a party line?”

They grinned as the sound of Joshua’s laughter echoed in their minds.

“I love when he does that,” Kemara said.

Sean hugged her closer. “Me too. Anyway…”

“Go on…”

“Joshua, Maryam and Yosef, we just want to say thank you for being with us as we’ve journeyed to this day, and we know you’ll be with us as we continue on together.

Kemara squeezed his hand and continued. “Help us to follow your example of love and sacrifice, and teach us how to keep the Father at the center of our relationship.”

“Thank you so much for all the family and friends you’ve surrounded us with over the past year. Their love and support has meant so much to both of us.” Sean glanced at Kemara. “And last, but definitely not least, thank you for my beautiful bride. I promise to try to love her as much as you do.”

Tears came to Kemara’s eyes and she blinked them back quickly. It was a moment before she could speak. “Joshua, thank you so much for bringing Sean into my life. A year ago, I couldn’t have pictured this day, but you did. Help me to always remember this feeling of being loved completely.”

“Maryam and Yosef,” Sean continued. “The two of you are the best example of what a marriage can be. And I hope we can do half as well as you’ve done.”

Kemara took a deep breath. “And...if it’s not too much to ask, we’d really love to see all of you today. person, I mean.”

“We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Sean concluded.

“That was so nice! But I guess we’d better - .”

There was a soft knock on the door and Andrew appeared around it, camera in hand. He snapped a picture, and Kemara laughed.

“I guess I need to get used to people doing that today!”

The angel of death smiled. “Yup, and we’ll get the whole ceremony on video too. I’m sorry to interrupt, but your parents just got here, Sean.”

Sean set Kemara on her feet, and held out a hand. “Let’s go play host and hostess.”

“Oh my gosh! Look at you two!” Megan said when the couple returned to the narthex. “You look stunning, my dear.”

“What about me?” Sean asked indignantly.

Keith patted him on the back. “Well, if you’d agreed to wear a kilt, you might have the ladies looking at you, but since you didn’t….”

“I tried!” Kemara said amid the laughter.

David’s eyes were full as he gazed at her. “You look real nice.”

“Nice!” Joyce said. “She’s gorgeous!”

With tears in her own eyes, Kemara hugged them both while Andrew snapped another photo.

“We should go,” Sean said gently.

“Will it be too chilly in here?” she asked as they swung the double doors open wide.

Sean shook his head. “Most people will just take a bulletin and go on in the sanctuary. And it looks like we got out here just in time.”

The Wilson family was coming up the walk. Zeke and Sy wore gray suits with navy ties, while Diana and the girls wore navy dresses.

“How cool!” Hailey said when she saw them. “I didn’t know this was allowed!”

Kemara laughed and hugged her. “Apparently this used to be tradition before people started making the bride more important than the groom.”

“I think we’re going to hear that question a lot today,” Sean joked, as he hugged Diana.

“Well, I think it’s a wonderful tradition.”

Zeke nodded. “I agree. As Father Mike said last night, you’re the ministers today. It’s only right you should welcome your guests.”

“We think so too,” Kemara said. “But I’m afraid both my grandmothers would be scandalized if they were here!”

Diana patted her arm. “I’m sure they’re very happy for you.”

After the Wilsons, came Adam, Kylie, Clay, Edward and Caleb.

When he saw Kemara, Adam dropped to one knee and proclaimed. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

Giggling, Kemara blushed. “Oh, stop it!”

Adam stood up and hugged her. “Hey, when it’s true, it’s true. We dropped the cake off at Willowveil, but we’ve got the flowers in the car.”

“Oh, thank you! I think Father Mike’s just inside so he can tell you where to put them.”

Kylie was next in line. “The dress looks even lovelier on you than it did in the pictures.”

“Here are Peter and Emma,” Clay said.

The crowd around the front doors grew as Elaine and several people from Kemara and Sean’s dance class also arrived. Everyone exclaimed over seeing the bridal couple outside where they could be seen by all.

When they had all gone inside, Sean drooped. “Whew! I’m beginning to think we should’ve gotten one of the kids to hold a sign so we don’t have to keep explaining ourselves.”

“Awww...I thought you liked being a rebel!” Kemara ran a hand over her hair, checking that the increasing wind hadn’t messed it up

“I do! I just get tired of having to explain myself.”  He caught sight of someone over her shoulder. “Kemara….”

She turned to see three people coming up the walk.

“Maryam, Yosef and John…” She started down the steps and stumbled in her heels. Sean just managed to catch her before she fell.

Laughing, she flung her arms around Maryam. “I’m so glad you’re all here!” She hugged Yosef and John in turn. Maryam kissed Sean’s cheek and the men shook hands.

“We would not have missed it!” Maryam brushed away a tear that threatened to ruin Kemara’s mascara. “You look beautiful, my dear. The two of you are happy, yes?”

Sean put an arm around Kemara’s waist. “A little nervous, but yeah, very happy.”

Yosef chuckled. “Ah, I remember that feeling well.” He smiled at them. “You do not ask, but yes, Yeshu is here. He will speak with you later.”

“Probably when you least expect it, if I know my cousin,” John said, grinning.

“Good,” Kemara sighed. “I mean, I know he’s here, but I do want to see him.”

Sean kissed the top of her head. “Me too.”


The last guest to arrive stood unnoticed at the back of the sanctuary. He sighed happily as the bridal couple entered from the side chapel and laid a bouquet of spring flowers on a shelf beneath Owen’s painting of the Holy Family. They stood with bowed heads for a moment, and then returned the way they had come. Three members of the congregation glanced at him and smiled.

Soft voices drew his attention to a nearby doorway where the procession was getting into order. He studied each of the beloved faces, one at a time remembering their pasts and anticipating their futures.

When he saw that all was ready, Andrew rose and walked to the ambo. “Good morning. On behalf of Sean and Kemara I want to thank everyone for being here this morning to share in their special day. Please stand and join in singing the processional hymn, number 548, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”

The Guest noticed looks of surprise from the congregation as they saw the bridal couple being escorted by their parents down the aisle.

When the wedding party had been seated, Father Mike said, “Good morning. Friends, we are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Kemara and Sean. Let us call upon God to be with us today as we celebrate this union of two into one."

“Be attentive to our prayers, oh Lord, and in your kindness pour out your grace on these your servants Kemara and Sean, so that coming together before your altar, they may be confirmed in love for one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”


The Guest stood near JenniAnn and Andrew as Owen rose and made his way to the ambo.

“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…” he read from Jeremiah.

Gazing around the sanctuary, the Guest thought of the community he had begun to build in a rundown theater. It had flourished just as he had hoped, and he knew today’s celebration was only the first of many.

He recited the sacred words along with Owen: “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me.”

Then, Zeke’s voice rose, strong and clear as he sang.
“Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.”....

Diana smiled at her husband and she took his place.
“Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Belle had grown increasingly restless. When everyone stood to hear the Gospel, Andrew set her on the floor.

“She’ll be fine,” he whispered to JenniAnn as Father Mike began to read about the wedding feast at Cana.

Amused, the Guest followed the toddler’s staggering steps around the church. Those who noticed her only smiled. When she reached the front row, Belle made her way over to Kemara and Sean and held out her arms to be picked up. Sean lifted her, and looked back at JenniAnn and Andrew. Andrew was starting down the side aisle, but Sean shook his head.

When the congregation sat again, Sean settled Belle between himself and Kemara where she seemed content.

Andrew turned back and retrieved his camera. Quietly, he moved up to the front of the church, and snapped a photo of the trio before returning to his seat.

The Guest stood beside Father Mike as the priest began to speak.

“We all saw Kemara and Sean honor Jesus, Mary, and Joseph by laying flowers in front of our beautiful painting of them. Their choice to honor and remember the three as a family struck me as particularly poignant on this day, the beginning of Kemara's and Sean's married life. I know many of you here have helped, advised, and encouraged them as they began their journey together. We were definitely not alone in that effort! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have been walking alongside our couple during these past months and I hope... and know... Kemara and Sean will continue looking to them for guidance. In their life together, Mary and Joseph exemplified many virtues that are so important to a happy marriage.”

Belle leaned against Kemara with a thumb in her mouth. The bride put an arm around her goddaughter and hugged her close.

The Guest noticed how Sean couldn’t help glancing at the pair even as he listened to Father Mike. He heard the groom’s prayer that he and Kemara would have children of their own. And soon, please?
“First of all, it may take a little work of the ol' imagination but I have to think that Mary and Joseph valued honest communication,” Father Mike was saying. “We read in the Gospel that Joseph intended to quietly divorce Mary after hearing she was with child.  That had to hurt Mary a lot.  I can't imagine Joseph was feeling too great, either.  Thankfully, for all of us!, the Archangel Gabriel intervened and, with a message from God, brought the two together.  It's not in the Bible but I have to believe that after Joseph came running back to Mary, they talked.  A lot.  I'm sure Joseph listened, with tears in his eyes, as Mary told him how his abandonment made her feel.  I'm pretty confident she got awfully choked up herself when he confessed how distraught he was about the idea of losing her.  It couldn't have been an easy conversation but I'm sure it's one they knew was necessary and that they came out of it closer than ever.  So, Sean and Kemara, remember that after you've had a disagreement or hurt each other.  There's a lot of healing in talking, in being heard.  Even if your conversation starts out awkward or angry, that's okay!  Keep talking.  There's a reason our God calls Himself the Word.  Words are so, so important!  Share them with each other.”
Belle shifted uncomfortably on the wooden pew. Hoping to distract her, Sean took off the sword pin from his lapel and showed it to her. Kemara leaned over and glared at him.

“What else am I supposed to do?” he mouthed back.

Father Mike smiled at the byplay and continued: “Once they were reunited, Mary and Joseph had a crash course on trust: in each other and in God.  They probably weren't the two most popular people in Nazareth at this point.  You have to imagine the snickers, the stares, the people who turned away as soon as they made eye contact...  And they'd barely had time to deal with that before they found out they needed to head to Bethlehem!  If ever there's a test of a relationship, it's a road trip!  But off they went, two newlyweds, their donkey, and a soon-to-be-born baby.  How easy would it have been for Joseph to bolt during that journey?  Maybe disappear in Jerusalem?  But he didn't.  In fact, I'm sure the thought never once entered his mind.  And Mary knew that.  And I believe Joseph knew that there was no other man she would have wanted with her in those difficult days.  How wonderful it must have felt to know someone else trusted them so much and was so dedicated to them!  I hope, in the years ahead, you know the security of such a bond, Kemara and Sean!”
The Guest was watching the bridal couple and saw the exact moment it happened. Belle’s face scrunched up, and Sean sniffed the air suspiciously. Kemara tried to discretely catch Andrew or JenniAnn’s attention, but they were too far in the back to notice. At last, she shrugged and sat back. Sean leaned away from Belle and made “hurry up!” motions to Father Mike.

“In Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph faced a true test of their faith.  Their baby was coming!  And they weren’t at home!  And there was no family nearby!  All they had was each other and God.  They trusted Him to supply them with shelter and He did... a lowly stable but a shelter nonetheless.  They prayed unceasingly as Mary labored and then there He was: the One who stood at the center of their faith and the faith of their mothers and fathers.  Jesus.  From the moment He was born, Mary and Joseph nurtured and loved Him and turned to God the Father to protect Him and them.  And, once again, the Father came through.  He sent Gabriel with another message: “Flee to Egypt.”  Mary and Joseph never stopped listening for God’s voice and heeding His will and, because of that, Jesus was spared.  It might have seemed a little insane to Joseph and likely to Mary, too, when he told her.  But they went.  So remember that, Kemara and Sean.  God may lead you to places you never expect to go... maybe don’t want to go... but if you trust in Him, you may just find that you’re in exactly the place you need to be.”

“And you probably don’t believe that right now,” the Guest thought, chuckling over Sean’s antics which had expanded to exaggerated nose-holding. Father Mike fought to ignore him and get through the last of his homily without laughing aloud. On the other side of Belle, Kemara was bent double with giggles. Next to Sean, Ivy and Brad had quickly noticed what was going on.

Brad gestured, and Sean passed Belle to Ivy who passed her to Brad at the end of the pew. JenniAnn finally noticed them and slipped quickly from her seat with Belle’s diaper bag over her shoulder. She walked to the back of the church and waited, ready to grab her daughter as soon as the priest’s homily was finished.

“For the rest of their lives together; Jesus, Mary, and Joseph gave each other unconditional, agapic love.  Mary and Joseph sacrificed nearly everything of the life they knew to raise their son in safety.  Without the support of family, it’s quite likely that both Mary and Joseph had to work even harder to support themselves and make a home.  But they didn’t keep score.  They didn’t begrudge each other the sacrifices they each made.  They simply loved each other and, together, they raised a Son who would love the whole world until His last breath and beyond.  If you take no other lesson from their lives, please take that one.  Don’t be afraid to love each other without limits, Kemara and Sean!  After all, it’s how God loves us.”

As the congregation stood to recite the Creed, JenniAnn hurried down the aisle, took Belle from Brad and carried her out through the side chapel.

Kemara and Sean took their places in front of Father Mike. The Guest stood between them with a hand on each one’s shoulder.

“Kemara and Sean, you have come together here today so that the Lord may seal and strengthen your love in the presence of the Church's minister and this community of your family and friends. In this way you will be strengthened to keep mutual and lasting faith with each other and to carry out the other duties of marriage. And so, in the presence of the church this community of your family and friends, I ask you to state your intentions.”

“Kemara and Sean have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage? Will you love and honor each other as husband and wife for the rest of your lives? Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the Law of Love and Compassion?”

All three questions were answered with a firm, “Yes,” from both.

“Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, with your hands joined declare your consent before God and his Church, this community of your family and friends.”

They turned to face one another and clasped hands. Father Mike smiled at the Guest, and continued.

“Sean, do you take Kemara for your lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health all the days of your life?”

“I do.” Sean’s expression was tender as he gazed at Kemara.

“Kemara, do you take Sean for your lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health all the days of your life?”

Kemara blinked back tears - of emotion this time instead of laughter. “I do.”

You have declared your consent before the Church and this community of your family and friends. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you with his blessings.” Father Mike made the sign of the cross. “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Ivy and Brad came to stand on either side of the bridal couple. Ivy took Kemara’s bouquet of white Easter lilies. Liam rose and carried the wooden bowl with the rings over to Brad who presented it to Father Mike.

“Lord, bless and consecrate Kemara and Sean in their love and compassion for each other. May these rings be a symbol of true faith they share in each other and always remind them of their love and compassion. We ask this through Christ our Lord.”

Sean fumbled a bit - deliberately, Kemara thought - with her rings, drawing chuckles from their family and friends. At last, he had the interlocking bands connected and slid them onto her finger.

“Take this ring with my love and fidelity.”

His was much easier, just a solid gold band engraved with the claddagh symbol for friendship, love and loyalty.

“Take this ring with my love and fidelity.”

“Please stand for the nuptial blessing,” Father Mike said. Kemara and Sean knelt as he recited:

Let us pray to the Lord for Kemara and Sean who come here at the beginning of their married life so that they may always be united in love for each other.

Holy Father, you created humankind in your own image and made man and woman to be joined as husband and wife in union of body and heart and so fulfill their mission in this world.

Lord, grant that as they begin to live this sacrament they may share with each other the gifts of your love and become one in heart and mind as witnesses to your presence in their marriage. Help them to create a home together.

Give your blessing to Kemara, your daughter, so that she may be a good wife, caring for the home, faithful in love for her husband, generous and kind.

Give your blessing to Sean, your son, so that he may be a good husband, caring for the home, faithful in love for his wife, generous and kind.

Father, grant that as they come together to your table on earth, they may one day have the joy of sharing your feast in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Arthur and Monica took turns presenting the prayers of the faithful.

“For Kemara and Sean as they begin their married life together, may they always know Your presence in good times and in bad. Let us pray to the Lord.”

“For their families, may they be good examples of love and faithfulness as they support Kemara and Sean in their marriage. Let us pray to the Lord.”

“For those here present, may we find Christ's love for us mirrored in Kemara's and Sean's love for each other. Let us pray to the Lord.”

Then, JenniAnn and Andrew - carrying a now clean Belle - brought up the bread and wine for Communion.

Even though the offertory hymn they had chosen, “Come to the Feast,” was one of her favorites, Kemara couldn’t sing. She clung to Sean’s hand and concentrated on the cool metal of his ring against her fingers. She was in such a daze of happiness that she missed the beginning of the Our Father, and Sean had to pull her to her feet.

As she took Communion, Kemara thought she caught a glimpse of Joshua behind Father Mike, but when she looked again, he wasn’t there.

Before she knew it, Father Mike was beckoning them forward to face the congregation and asking everyone to “Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessings.”

“May almighty God, with his Word of blessing, unite your hearts in the never ending bond of pure love.”

“May your children bring you happiness, and may your generous love for them be returned to you, many times over.”

“May the Spirit of Love live always in your hearts and in your home. May you have true friends to stand by you, both in joy and in sorrow. May you be ready and willing to help and comfort all who come to you in need. And may the blessings promised to the compassionate be yours in abundance.”


“May you find happiness and satisfaction in your work. May daily problems never cause you any undue anxiety, nor the desire for earthly possessions dominate your lives. But may your heart's first desire be always your compassionate presence toward each other.”

“May the Lord bless you with many happy years together, so that you may enjoy the rewards of a good life.”

“And may Almighty God bless each and every one of us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Father Mike held out a hand. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Mr. and Mrs. Sean McCallum.”

A cheer went up as Kemara and Sean shared their first kiss as husband and wife.


“I’m so sorry!” JenniAnn said coming over to them in the narthex once the crush of well-wishers had thinned a bit.

Kemara hugged her. “It’s OK! Sean was cracking me up, though. I was so afraid I was going to bust out laughing in the middle of Father Mike’s homily.”

JenniAnn looked at him curiously. “Why? What were you doing?”

“Holding my nose and motioning to him to hurry up!” He demonstrated.

JenniAnn laughed. “I don’t blame you then!”

“I wish I’d gotten video of that, but I had no idea anything was going on,” Andrew said coming over with Belle.

“I don’t think anyone did except for us, Father Mike, Brad and Ivy,” Kemara said. “Like I said it’s OK, and it certainly made for a memorable wedding. Did you get back in time for our vows?” she asked JenniAnn.

“No, but I did get to see Sean nearly drop the rings!”

“I couldn’t decide if he was faking or really that nervous,” Elaine said. “And I know he’s not clumsy.”

Kemara snorted. “Well he picked out my rings so he has no one to blame but himself.”

“Can we get a picture of you two out front?” Elaine asked. “I want to put it on the wall in the studio.”


“Might as well get the rest of the wedding party,” Sean suggested.

Andrew called, “Kemara and Sean would like the wedding party out front for pictures, please!”

“Wow….” Sean whispered as the crowd poured out the front doors. “You mean we can get anything we want today?”

“Guess so.”

Outside, they were surprised to hear the noise of bands and crowds only a few streets away.

Emma laughed. “The parade! I’m surprised we didn’t hear it inside the church.”

“Usually you can,” Father Mike said. “I’ve had to cancel morning Mass every year St. Patrick’s Day falls in a weekday because it’s deafening.”

Keith shrugged. “Guess we got lucky and the wind was blowing the other way this year.”

The Friends of Joshua exchanged smiles. They knew luck had nothing to do with it.


“I’d love to get a photo of you in the stone circle at Skellig,” Sean said after they arrived back at Willowveil. “Your dress is perfect for it.”

Kemara sighed. “I love that idea, but it would keep everyone waiting too long. Maybe for our first anniversary, though.”

Max and Andrew approached them. “Where do you want to start?”

“Let’s get the group pictures first so everyone else can go on to the ballroom while we finish up,” Kemara suggested.

“Arthur and I will take the other children there now,” Monica said. “Max and Rose set up a play area for them, and Henry offered to make balloon animals. Wee Jacob and some of the Tunnel children are here, too.”  

“Great!” Sean told her. “We’ll send Liam and Kelly along as soon as we’re done with them.”

“Both of you stand on the gazebo steps with the others to either side,” Andrew directed.

After some photos of the entire wedding party, they took a few with Liam and Kelly together and with Kemara and Sean.

“Thank you guys! You’re done! Kelly, Liam knows where to go.”

The little boy nodded and raced off with Kelly close behind.

“Now Ivy and Brad,” Max said. “Oh, and somebody go get Sy. We need to get some of him and Ivy, too.”

Ivy blushed. “Thanks.”

Max winked at her.

Pictures with Kemara and Sean’s parents followed.

“Kemara and Sean, is there anywhere in particular you want inside?” Andrew asked.

Kemara glanced at her mother remembering their conversation of a week before. “I thought Joshua’s room might be nice.”

Sean nodded. “Yeah, the light’s good in there with the balcony and all.”

Andrew smiled, knowing that the light was only one reason they had chosen that location. “Sounds good. I’ll go up with you.”

They took several photos in the peaceful room, and before they left, Kemara removed three lilies from her bouquet and placed them the vase which sat on the dresser.


“Oh, how lovely!” Kemara stopped in the doorway and looked at the scene before them.

Small tables were ranged around the perimeter of the ballroom leaving plenty of space for dancing. Each was covered with a navy cloth and had a silver vase with white lilies in the center.

“It looks great,” Sean agreed, but he was gazing at the buffet tables which held a variety of biscuits, quiche, fruit, pastries, sandwiches, juice and milk.

Kemara shook her head. “I think as long as there was food, you guys wouldn’t care what the place looked like.”

“Nope. I’d be too busy looking at you anyway.”

“Nice comeback, but you’re a liar.”

“I am not! Do I look like I’m lying?” He pouted.

“Definitely, “Megan said tartly. “I know that face.”

Kemara smirked. “Oh, good. I’ll memorize it for later.”

“I’m going to find Brad and Adam...they’re more fun than you two…..” Sean grumbled.

Andrew and Father Mike walked to the center of the room.

“Hang on, I think Father Mike’s about to give the blessing, and then you can stuff your face.”

“If we could have everyone’s attention?” Andrew called. When the crowd had quieted down, he continued. “Thanks. First I think we need to give a shout out to Violeta who organized everything today including choosing the decorations, and Max and Rose who came over early to get everything set up.”

Everyone clapped.

“We’ve got a brunch buffet courtesy of Adrian’s with lots of delicious looking food that I can’t wait to try,” Andrew went on. “You’ll find a mimosa station for the grown-ups and milk and juice for the little people. If you get tired of dancing, Kylie and Clay have set up a photo booth in the corner. Choose your props and signs and get crazy! We’ve got a small printer if you want to take them home with you. And you’re welcome to wander outside for those pics, too. For the kids, the playroom is open with plenty of things to do, and Henry has offered to create some of his amazing balloon animals.”

This got some cheers, and Henry bowed modestly.

“So, I’m going to turn this over to Father Mike for the blessing so we can all get to eating. Oh, Kemara and Sean will have their first dance in just a little while so don’t miss that.”

“What about the cake?” someone called. Kemara thought it was Sy, but she wasn’t sure.

Adam held up a hand. “The cake will make its appearance in due time. Excellence cannot be rushed.”

“So that means I’m going to give a very long and complicated blessing,” Father Mike joked.

“Not if you want to eat,” someone mumbled but not loud enough for the priest to hear. A chuckle ran around the room.

“God our Father, Lord of all Creation, we gather to celebrate the love and commitment of Kemara and Sean as they share their first meal together as husband and wife. We thank You for giving Your Holy blessing today upon their marriage, and ask that You continue to bless them with Your love and mercy throughout their lives together. Let this be the first of many loving meals shared together with their family and friends, and blessed by Your amazing grace. We ask for Your Holy blessing upon this meal as together we say: Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty; through Christ our Lord, Amen.”


To everyone’s surprise, Sean stepped forward and took the mic. “Before we eat, Kemara and I want to say happy anniversary to JenniAnn and Andrew on this St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been living in Dyeland for a while now, and one of the first things I noticed was how the two of you - and Willowveil - are the center of life here. This world spins around you, and we’re so grateful for all you do. So we wish you many more happy years together with this family you’ve created.”

The cheers were deafening as the group surrounded a pleased JenniAnn and Andrew to offer their congratulations.

“The bride and groom need to go first,” Peter said waving Kemara and Sean toward the food.

“At last!” Sean hurried over, pulling Kemara after him. The others laughed and followed them.

Kemara put some fruit and a slice of quiche on her plate. “Where should we sit?” she asked Violeta

“Oh, your chairs are marked,” the angel said. “You'll see them.”

Sean laughed. “I think I found them, Kemara.” At one table, two chairs had been tied together. A white ampersand hung from the navy ribbon.

“Very clever!” Kemara set down her plate while Sean pulled out both chairs for them.

“What do you want to drink?” he asked once she was seated.

“A mimosa...peach and strawberry, I think.”

“Peach for a Georgia peach. You got it.”

Megan smiled as she put down her plate. “I bet you’ve heard that more times than you can count.”

“Too many!”

“Do people say things about you being Southern up here?” Keith asked.

Kemara shrugged. “Sometimes. Usually I just get asked to repeat myself. And back home they say I talk fast for a Southerner!”

“You do,” her mother said, joining them. “Your dad and I used to say it’s because you read so fast.”

David chuckled. “We finally gave up trying to control it” He turned to Megan and Keith. “We have pictures of her looking through Reader’s Digest when she was five.”

“Sean likes murder mysteries,” Kemara said. “We spent the last two days unpacking boxes. I loved looking through old pictures of him,” she told Megan and Keith.

“He was a scamp!” Keith said.

“What lies are you telling about me now?” Sean asked. He set a glass in front of Kemara “Here you go. And an orange one for me.”

As she reached for the drink, Kemara hesitated.

“Don’t worry. I didn’t put much champagne in it,” Sean said quietly so the others couldn’t hear. “Just in case.”

She smiled at him. “Thanks.”

“So do you like living in Dyeland, Sean?” David asked. “You haven’t been here long, Kemara said.”

“It’s great! I still don’t think I’ve seen half of the place, though. JennAnn says it’s as big as Disneyworld, but it feels even larger than that.”

“But don’t you ever feel….” Joyce searched for the right word. “It’s just, from what I’ve seen it’s not like living in a neighborhood or even an apartment building with your neighbors all around you.”

Kemara shook her head. “Each family has their own lives. We don’t see each other every single day, but we have Bible study once a week and family dinners every month. Plus, some of us work together.”

Sean nodded. “And we all just get along,” he added. “I guess it’s because we were all sort of hand-picked. We like being together.”

“Hand-picked by God,” Joyce said bluntly.

“We think so, yes.”

Kemara looked down at her plate, wishing so badly that their parents knew about Joshua. Maybe someday. She looked around for Maryam, Yosef and John but couldn’t find them in the sea of tables.

Sean seemed to guess her thoughts. “You’re not eating,” he scolded.

She smiled at him. “Not as hungry as I thought I was.”

He took a strawberry from her plate and held it up. “Then I guess I’ll have to help. Open up.”

She stared into his green eyes hearing the unspoken ‘I dare you’. She leaned forward and delicately bit into the fruit, leaving him holding the leaves. A few people clapped.

Sean looked so surprised that their parents laughed. “Didn’t expect that did you, Son?” Keith chuckled.

“No, but I can’t say I mind being bested,” He grinned. “Oh, I think this is us.”

Andrew was heading in their direction. “I think most people are just about done eating,” He said. “Are you two ready to hit the dance floor?

Kemara and Sean looked at each other.

“Sure, I’m tired of sitting anyway.”

“And I want to check out the photo booth.”

Andrew laughed. “OK. I’ll get it ready.”

“What song did you pick?” Megan asked as Kemara checked her hair and smoothed down her dress.

Sean smiled. “You’ll see.”

Andrew went over to the stereo and cued up a song. He picked up the microphone and spoke. “If I could have your attention? Kemara has a few words to say before she and Sean have their first dance.”

The room quieted, and Kemara took the mic from him.

“Thank you. This morning has been so wonderful, and we just want to thank all of you for making it so special.” She blinked back tears, and Sean put an arm around her. “The song we’ve picked is called ‘The Neverending Road’. As I was getting ready this morning, I realized that our family here in this room is like a never-ending Celtic knot - all twisted together and looping back on itself.”

“Emphasis on the ‘twisted’,” Sean joked lightly and everyone chuckled.

Kemara smiled. “Only sometimes! I spent last night thinking back over the past six months - the past year, really - and I’m so amazed at what God has done. Sean and I have both said how glad we are that we listened when a Dear Friend gave us a push at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day party.” She wiped away a tear. “So this is for Joshua. We love you, we know you’re here with us all in spirit.”

Andrew started the music, and a haunting melody began. Sean and Kemara walked to the center of the floor and began to dance.

The road now leads onward
As far as can be
Winding lanes
And hedgerows in threes

By purple mountains
Round every bend
All roads lead to you
There is no journey's end

Here is my heart and I give it to you
Take me with you across this land
These are my dreams, so simple and few
Dreams we hold in the palm of our hands

Deep in the winter
Amidst falling snow
High in the air
Where the bells they all toll

And now all around me
I feel you still here
Such is the journey
No mystery to fear

The road now leads onward
I know not where
I feel in my heart
That you will be there

Whenever a storm comes
Whatever our fears
The journey goes on
As your love ever nears

Here is my heart and I give it to you
Take me with you across this land
These are my dreams, so simple and few
Dreams we hold in the palm of our hands

As the sound of the bagpipes faded, Kemara and Sean shared a kiss.

Amid the applause, she walked over to David and held out a hand. Smiling he took it, and she led him on the floor as LeeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” began.

Joyce blinked back tears as she watched them make up for that long ago prom night.

“And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. I hope you dance…..”

When the song finished, David and Kemara were both in tears.

Sean took Megan out on the floor to “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof”. Kemara had finally spotted Maryam and Yosef at a corner table with Adam, Eli, Arthur and Monica. The Davidsons exchanged knowing smiles at the words, “Swiftly fly the years, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

“Now, let’s go play,” Sean said, coming back over to Kemara as more people got up for second helpings or to dance themselves.

They tried out the photo booth. Kylie and Clay had gathered an impressive selection of props from cowboy hats - Kemara suspected Caleb and Edward had donated those - clown noses, wooden mustaches on sticks, fairy wings, capes, and bow ties. Kemara found a huge, green leprechaun hat, while Sean donned a red feather boa and a harlequin mask. On a sign, Kemara wrote “Finally!’ in bright green chalk.

“Perfect!” Kylie snapped the picture. “Now try this,” she suggested as they tossed their props back in the box. Clay held up a large picture frame - minus the glass as Kemara and Sean kissed.

“I can’t wait to see everyone’s photos!” Kemara said, as they stepped aside to let Ivy and Sy have a turn.

“It’s been really popular. We let the kids go first while we were waiting for you get done with the formal pictures. They had a blast.”

Sean chuckled. “I hope they haven’t worn Henry out yet.”

“Nah, I think he’s indestructible,” Clay said.

“Let’s go see,” Kemara suggested. “I’ve only heard about his balloon animals.”

They found Henry in the playroom surrounded by Sean’s nieces and nephews, Liam and eight or nine Tunnel children including Jacob and Shelby. JenniAnn held Belle on her lap. The toddler’s brown eyes were wide as she watched the angel twist and turn the bright balloons into fantastic shapes. In one chubby hand she clutched a purple butterfly.

When he saw them, Henry only nodded and went on with his storytelling. As they watched, he twisted and shaped until a few minutes later he presented Kemara with a Siamese cat.

“It even has blue eyes!” she laughed. “Thank you, Henry.” She kissed his cheek, making him blush.

“What about me?” Sean asked.

Henry thought for a minute and selected more balloons. The more nervous children put their hands over their ears, expecting a bang when one broke.

“Has he popped any yet?” Kemara whispered to JenniAnn.

“Nope. Must be an angel thing.”

Deftly, Henry fastened the last balloon, used a sharpie to make some marks and presented the result to Sean.

“Air guitar!” he said, delighted. He struck a pose and played a few riffs on the red and black “instrument.” He clapped Henry on the back. “Awesome! Thanks!”

The angel smiled and returned to his tale of Noah’s ark, already working on what Kemara thought might be some sort of fish.

“I could use something else to drink,” Sean said when they were out in the hall again. Hand in hand they walked back to the ballroom only to meet Emma and Peter coming out.

“There you are!” Emma said. “We were just coming to look for you. Adam says it’s time for the cake to make its grand entrance.”

“Do you know what it looks like?” Peter asked as the four of them looked around for the angel of death.

Kemara shook her head. “No. We just told him we wanted lemon.”

“I bet he comes up with something great,” Sean said. “And I believe I have been promised a cake as well…”

“Adam’s bringing it out with the main one,” Kemara said as the angel of death, looking very dapper in his pale gray suit, picked up the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. I present two culinary masterpieces for your enjoyment.” He waved a hand and Max and Rose pushed in two wheeled carts each holding a cake.

There were murmurs of appreciation from the crowd.

The wedding cake was three-tiered, iced in white with an intricate knotwork design in navy icing decorating the top and bottom tiers. The middle tier had a claddagh in the center. The topper was a white ceramic heart with a trinity knot inside.

When he walked closer to see the groom’s cake, Sean gasped. Adam had recreated the bodhran Joshua had given Sean in perfect detail - from the Celtic cross on the top, to the wood-grain sides with their knotwork engraving and brass nails.

“Oh, Adam….they’re wonderful!” Kemara hugged him. “Thank you so much!”

“Yeah, they are,” Sean said, shaking his hand. “If you ever get tired of being an angel of death, I think you’ve got a future as a cake decorator.”

Adam smiled. “That will never happen, but I’m glad you like them.”

Rose brought a knife, and Kemara and Sean carefully cut a slice together from the bottom tier of the bridal cake. Kemara held out the fork for him, getting more icing on his nose than in his mouth. Laughing, he returned the favor.

They returned to their table and watched their guests. Most were in line for cake, but the photo booth never stayed empty and several people were dancing.

“Don’t Ivy and Sy look good out there?” Kemara said watching the young couple as they danced totally unaware of anyone else.

Sean smiled. “Yeah. They’re good kids. I hope they can make it work.”

“Me too.” Kemara sampled the groom’s cake - chocolate as promised with cherry between the layers. “I feel bad I haven’t had a chance to talk to Maryam, Yosef and John this whole time.”

“I think they’re having fun.” Sean nodded over to the photo booth where the trio were laughingly choosing props. Maryam put a bowler hat on Yosef while he chose a pair of sunglasses for her. John was tying a Superman cape round his shoulders.

The music tapered off and then a new song started. The ballroom doors opened and a group of children danced in. They wore black pants or skirts and shirts in various shades of green.

“I’ll tell me ma when I go home, the boys won’t leave the girls alone…”

The grownups laughed, clapped and sang along.

“They pulled my hair. They stole my comb. But that’s alright ‘til I go home.”

Kemara leaned over to Ciara and Brad who were standing nearby. “Isn’t that your bunch?”

“Yes, and I guess some of the Tunnel kids, too?”

“They better be!” Brad joked. “I don’t think we have that many.”

Sean nodded. “Yeah, Kemara’s been teaching them for about two years now. Did you two know about this?”

“No,” Ciara shook her head. “Not a clue.”

“Well, whoever thought it up, it’s perfect,” Kemara said, grinning. “We can’t have St. Patrick’s Day without dancing.”

The children finished to great applause then headed for the cakes.

“I’m going to get some juice,” Kemara said.

Sean noticed Keith waving at him from across the room. “OK, I’ll go see what Mom and Dad want.”

Kemara poured herself a glass or orange juice and gazed out over the crowd that filled the ballroom. Her friends and family mingled in a happy tangle. She caught a glimpse of her mother deep in conversation with Catherine. Her dad was with Arthur and Andrew in a corner probably discussing some woodworking project they could collaborate on.

She looked down at her wedding band, now fitted snugly together with the matching claddagh engagement ring. Only one thing - or Person - was left to make the day perfect.

"Have you seen Him?” Sean had left his parents and come up behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on the top of her head.

She sighed and twined her fingers with his. “No. I keep looking. Just a glimpse would be nice. I mean, I know He’s here, but….”

“I know…” Sean was quiet for a minute. “Wanna go walk on the beach?”

“I’d love to, but I don’t really want to make a scene,” she wrinkled her nose. “Everybody clapping and throwing rice.”

He released her. “I’ll handle it. Liam!” He motioned the boy over and whispered to him. Liam nodded and slipped back through the crowd.

“What’re you planning?” Kemara asked, amused.

“Just wait a -” He broke off at a resounding crash from the other side of the ballroom. People broke off their conversations and hurried to see what had happened.

“Come on!” Sean grabbed Kemara’s hand. They raced out a side door and down the path, giggling.

JenniAnn glanced up from where she was gathering the - thankfully empty and unbreakable - plates Liam had scattered during his diversion, and caught sight of the couple through one of the huge windows. She smiled.

“God bless.”

A walk on the beach

“I hope Liam didn’t break anything,” Kemara said once they were out of sight of the castle and had slowed down to a walk.

Sean laughed. “Nah, I think JenniAnn used the Corelle. My mom has that same pattern so I recognized it.”   

“Good. This has been such a wonderful day, I’d hate to think we spoiled it at the very end.”

“What makes you think the day’s over?” He looked down at her. “Still plenty of light left.”

“True. I'm sure we can think of something to….”

As they came over the hill, they made out a figure sitting on the porch steps with Warren in his lap. He caught sight of them and stood up.

“Who is that?” Sean squinted against the sun reflecting off the water.

Kemara gasped. “Joshua!” She kicked off her shoes and picking up the skirt of her dress raced down to the beach house. She threw herself into Joshua’s arms so hard she nearly knocked him over.

“I’m really glad it’s only you she greets like that,” Sean said ambling up a few minutes later. “Otherwise, I’d be jealous.”

Kemara raised her head from Joshua’s shoulder and wiped at her streaming eyes. “Sorry. He’s my first love. You’re only second best.”

“Agh!” Sean clutched at his chest. “Right to the heart!”

Joshua laughed. “Sean’s snark has rubbed off on you, little one.”

“I’m trying!” Sean grinned. He sobered and blinked back tears. “I’m really glad you’re here.”

Joshua reached out and enfolded both of them into his embrace for a long moment. Then he released them and picked up something lying on the steps.

“I know you saw Ama, Abi and John earlier. They left this with me to give to you Kemara.” He unfolded a woolen shawl in blue and green plaid and draped it around her shoulders. “Perfect. It matches the blue trim in your dress.”

“That’s the McCallum family tartan,” Sean said. “We’re Scots or Irish depending on who you ask.”

Kemara ran a hand over the soft, heavy material. “Oh, it’s lovely! I wish I had known so I could’ve thanked them at the reception.”

Joshua’s eyes twinkled. “Well, if you want to write a note, I’m sure it would get to them.” He picked up something else. “Sean, this is for you.”

Sean unfolded the cloth which turned out to be a matching scarf. “This is great! And I know we’ll use both of them on our trip.”

“You will.” Joshua grinned mischievously. “I can predict a few sunny days, but it will be mostly rainy and cool. Perfect weather for...getting acquainted.”

Kemara and Sean glanced at one another and blushed.

Joshua laughed. “Let’s walk for a bit. We’ll stay out of the water.” He held out his hands. They each took one and they set off down the beach.  

“I really enjoyed the ceremony,” he said after a comfortable silence. “I was there you know, but you probably didn’t see me.”

“I thought I caught a glimpse of you out of the corner of my eye,” Kemara admitted. “But when I turned to look there was nothing.”

Sean nodded. “Me too. But I think Father Mike saw you - during his homily - didn’t he? He seemed to be looking at something - or someone - at the back of the church.”

“And I don’t think it was Sean’s antics about Belle’s….umm….scented contribution.”

“Yep. I wandered around for a bit, but he saw me the whole time,” Joshua said. “I thought the readings you chose were perfect, even if no one else noticed the double meanings.”

“I’m sure everyone from the Bible study did,” Kemara said. “But yeah, our parents wouldn’t have.” She sighed. “I wish they could meet you - like this I mean.”

Joshua squeezed their hands. “Maybe someday. I’m not ruling it out, so keep hoping!”

“I know you’re both wondering about what I said at Christmas,” Joshua said. “About next year not being like you imagine it. But don’t worry. There will be hard times and wonderful times ahead, as in any marriage.” He smiled. “Ama and Abi can testify to that! Focus on your love for Me and the love you have for each other, and you’ll get through anything. I promise you that.”

“We will,” they murmured.

“As for tonight -,” Joshua’s voice was teasing. “Don’t worry about that either. Let whatever happens, happen. And if it doesn’t, that’s OK too. Dad and I and the Spirit aren’t going to be critiquing things.”

Kemara and Sean laughed, surprise easing some of the tension they had been feeling.

Joshua released their hands to put an arm around each of their shoulders. “That’s what I like to hear. We’d better go back now. I think you have some visitors.”

They turned around and started back the way they had come.

“Looks like you won’t have to write that thank you note after all,” Joshua joked as they came around a bend and saw Maryam, Yosef and John waiting in front of the beach house.

Kemara and Sean hurried to them.

“We brought you dinner and wine,” John said after a profusion of hugs and thanks. “Joshua said neither of you ate much.”

“And wedding cake,” Yosef put in.

“And we filled the freezer so you will have something when you return from your trip,” Maryam finished.

Kemara blinked back yet more tears. “Aww..thank you so much!”

“Yeah, that’s great,” Sean said. “Hey, can we get some photos with all of you?”

Joshua grinned. “Of course!”

“Let me get my camera!” Kemara hurried inside and came back out with her Nikon. “John will you do the honors?”

The baptizer looked hesitant. “Is it like a cell phone? I understand those.”

“Kinda….just turn this….and this knob...and press here to take the picture.”

The group gathered in various configurations as John photographed, growing in confidence as he did so.

“Thanks!” Kemara said kissing his cheek as she took the camera from him. “But I wish we could get one of all us - you included.”

Joshua smiled. “Dad can take one for us.”

Kemara and Sean looked at each other and laughed. “Sounds good to me!” Sean said.

They clustered together.

“One, two, three!” Joshua said. An 8x10 photograph appeared in his hand enclosed in a gilt frame with a knotwork border. “Perfect!”

“So does this mean God just took a selfie?” Sean wondered making them all laugh.

“Well, it’s not like we haven’t done that before!” Joshua pointed out.

Kemara threw her arms around him, crying again, so Sean took the frame from the Carpenter. “You’re awesome,” she stammered.

When she had calmed, Joshua gently released her. “We’ll say goodbye now, so you can get on with the rest of your evening.” He winked, and Kemara and Sean blushed again.

“We will be returning to Willowveil for a while,” Maryam said. “I believe there is still dancing…” She smiled at Yosef.

“I think my feet will be very sore at the end of the night!” Yosef teased.

Sean grinned. “You know, Joshua, after meeting your folks, the extra wine at Cana makes a lot more sense.”

“I always did love a good wedding,” Joshua said, smiling at his parents.

“And not just at Cana,” John put in. “I remember the time you….”

Talking and laughing the group started back towards the castle.

Kemara and Sean watched until they were out of sight. Then, they turned and looked at each other.

“What now?” Sean asked raising his eyebrows.

“Now, I’d like a shower and a change of clothes,” Kemara said. “Then dinner, and after that….” she let the sentence trail off.

Sean kissed her. “After that, we’ll see.”

March 18, 2015

“So did you guys have a good night?” Violeta asked at breakfast the next morning. Only she, JenniAnn and Andrew were up yet. They had been surprised when Kemara and Sean joined them; but the couple explained that they wanted one last meal together before they left on their honeymoon.

JenniAnn and Andrew exchanged stricken glances, but Kemara only smiled. “Very good! I am pretty tired this morning….didn’t sleep much.” She elbowed Sean in the ribs. “Because somebody snores!”

He looked offended. “I do not snore!”

“How would you know? You were dead to the world!”

Andrew chuckled. “What time does your plane leave tonight?”

“Eight,” said Sean. “But we have to be at the airport three hours early to get through security and all that fun stuff. I think we’ll probably leave here about 4. Gonna be a long day.”

“Would you mind if we drove you to the airport?” JenniAnn asked. “Since your parents went back last night, you should have some family to see you off on your honeymoon.”

Kemara smiled. “Awww….thanks! I talked to Mom this morning. She was sorry to miss saying goodbye, but she understood why we skipped out when we did.”

“Yeah, I don’t think there were any hard feelings,” Sean said. “Thanks. We appreciate it.”

Kemara yawned and stood up from the table. “I think I’m going to take a little nap.”

“I’ll come with you,” Sean stood up, too. “We’ll be back here about 3:30,” he told the others.

Andrew nodded. “Sounds good.”

Violeta smiled after them. “They look so happy,” she sighed.

“Yes, they do.” JenniAnn agreed.

“I hope they stay like that for a long time.”

“I think they’ll have times of happiness and sadness just like every family does,” JenniAnn said.

“But with Joshua’s help, they’ll manage.” Andrew said with a smile.

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