Life’s A Roller Coaster

Sometimes life is a balancing act. Sometimes it’s a roller coaster ride. Take this last month. Please.

My fiancé and I returned from a dream vacation in France, expecting that the next big project was getting out overdue invitations for our October 11 wedding and tasting the tortilla soup at the caterer’s for the lunch-time reception.

Like couples younger than our children, we became mired in critical pre-wedding decisions, such as whether the icing on the cupcakes, like the napkins, should be red and yellow – to symbolize two different families coming together – or just orange like the tablecloths.

I favored orange. “Red is too garish,” I pointed out, “and also might stain people’s clothes.” He disagreed.

“Red is festive,” he said, “perfect with yellow.”

Before the debate heated up, I sent him and his artistic talents off to design invitations with fall leaves (all three colors). After all, the only other thing on his calendar that day was an endoscopy his allergist had ordered to check out a funny feeling in his throat.

“It’s probably a little hernia,” he said. “My mom had one in the same place.” It made so much sense that I didn’t take my usual path – Googling all the possible outcomes of endoscopies – so we were completely unprepared when mom’s hernia was not the culprit. Instead, it was a suspicious growth in his esophagus, which turned out to be malignant.

This was a bit of a problem, not only for the obvious medical reasons but because we had issued a raft of “save the date” card for a date the groom would likely be staggering around, recovering from major surgery with his body full of tubes.

Family members uninitiated in the realities of medical life offered suggestions like “Do the surgery tomorrow and postpone the wedding for 30 days.” We, being more initiated than we would have liked from taking care of our late spouses, knew that “surgery tomorrow” occurs mostly in the case of auto accidents and healing occurs whenever it does.

“Let’s take control,” I proposed, “and get married first.”

Since the surgeon suggested a wedding “in the next week or two” might be a good idea. I speed-ordered a couple dresses online, we dashed off for the license, sent out a letter inviting guests to a celebratory party sometime later, and text-messaged family members an invitation of sorts. We’d meet in good weather at an outdoor location (for which we made no reservations) and in bad weather at our church.

The details that seemed so important a few days earlier fell off the radar screen in our medically induced rush to the altar.

If it hadn’t been for my daughter, passing through town on her way from Chicago to grad school in Boston, I might have forgotten the bouquet.

“I’ll handle it,” she said and while I got my nails done, she texted pictures of the bouquet-in-progress from the florist “so the polish will match.” I nixed the perfect match – “Honey, Not Tonight” – in favor of “Hawaiian orchid.” The wedding dress choice was easy, too. I eliminated the one called “Titanic.”

Perhaps that accounted for our good luck. The predicted thunderstorms passed us by, and no one was running a 5K race or hosting a frat party at the spot we had chosen. The sports bar we chose spontaneously for dinner afterwards even gave us a corner table, and my new husband (Bill Hurley) managed on short notice to come up with a Hurley T-Shirt, since I’ll be using his last name socially.

I’d like to say we were easily off to surgery within the predicted two weeks. But actually we were off to surgery only after a three-week postponement during which we planned a honeymoon that we had to cancel when a next-day opening arose.

We’re grateful that the cancer was an early (Stage Two) catch, and we’re settling into an at-home recovery. We’re not sure yet when the post-surgery, post-wedding celebration will be.

But whenever it is, I think I’ll agree to red icing.

Copyright 2014 Pat Snyder

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3 Responses to “Life’s A Roller Coaster”

  1. Judy Gattis Says:

    OMG, Pat. Having also just returned from France, the most obvious thing to say is C’est la vie!!! You seemed to have taken it with good stride and come out on top. You and your sweet Bill will be in mine and Charles’ prayers. I would love to be kept up with your new life and unexpected burp. And yes, I agree, go with RED!!!


  2. Linda Miller Says:

    Thinking of you and wishing Bill a speedy recovery!

  3. Clay Lowe Says:

    Two brave and caring souls, trusting their instincts and sharing their love — to each other, and the others who love and respect them. Yes.

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