GOOD HOPE CHURCH - CHAPEL
Jillian!" Reginald called out as he held her in his arms.
"Jillian, speak to me!"
"I...oh....um...." she stammered weakly as she
tried to will her eyes to focus. "W-what happened?"
"You passed out. Are you all right?
Should we call a doctor?"
Janet Stokes spoke up urgently as she handed Reginald the glass of water she'd quickly
slipped out to retrieve. "Maybe this will help."
He carefully held the glass for Jillian so that she could
take several long sips.
"I'm...fine," she insisted and then shakily
attempted to stand under her own power.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure," she nodded before taking a deep
breath and smiling. "It must be nerves and this unbearable
"If you're not feeling well, we could always
postpone," Reverend Rutledge explained. "There's no need
"We will not postpone anything!" she snapped
flatly, her strength quickly returning. "We've already had one
postponement too many."
"Jillian, darling, are you sure?"
"Reginald, the only thing I've ever wanted is to be
your wife." She smiled warmly at him and lifted her hand to touch him
lightly on the cheek. "I don't think I'd be able to stand it if I had
to wait any longer."
"All right, then," he sighed, both pleased with
her decision, yet concerned about her sudden collapse. "Let's get
"Very well," Reverend Rutledge nodded and then
motioned to the crowd of guests that everything was fine. After regaining
his composure and the demeanor needed for the ceremony, her turned to Jillian
and continued. "Do you, Jillian...."
"I said 'wait,' Reverend," she spoke up with as
much determination as before. She couldn't help but laugh because of the
naturally confused expressions on everyone's face. Her lightheartedness
instantly relieved the natural tension that her interruption had caused.
"I know that this is slightly unusual, but there are a few things I'd like
"Very well, then, Jillian," Reverend Rutledge
to look deeply into Reginald's eyes, she fought back her tears of joy and began
to speak. "Darling, we've had a rough time of it this past year, haven't
we? So many things to overcome and get through." Without
thinking, she glanced past him and in the direction of Stephanie who stood
silently by Patterson's side, and then past him to
Dane who seemed to be staring
a hole through her. "But we did get through them. Just you and
me -- together. And
just like Reverend Rutledge said, that's how it's going to be from now on.
I love you with all of my heart. More than I ever thought I could love a
man. Any other couple with a lesser love than ours would have just given
up and thrown in the towel after the year we've had, but not us. Our love
and devotion got us through and will continue to see us through -- no matter
what difficulties fate might throw in our way. And as we travel down this
road of life, I know that I'll be able to weather anything because of you.
You and your love are like a bright promise of hope and I promise to love you and
cherish you all the days of our lives."
Reginald sniffled and fought back a tear, nearly overcome
by the emotions that Jillian's words had stirred in him. "I...I don't
know what to say."
"You've already said everything. You said 'I
love you,' and 'I do.'"
"But you haven't," Reverend Rutledge spoke up
with a gentle laugh. "Do you, Jillian Marie Stokes, take this man,
Reginald Charles Callison, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To love,
honor, and cherish; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; as long as
you both shall live?"
She turned to look at Reginald again as he took her hand
rings that you're going to exchange are a symbol of your unending love for one
another and of the commitment that you're making. A perfect circle.
Never ending and never broken. As you exchange rings, repeat after
me. With this ring, I thee wed."
"With this ring, I thee wed," they said together
Pleased that the first half of his job was over, Reverend
Rutledge turned toward the second couple and smiled. He began to speak,
but quickly caught himself and laughed. "Now, you wouldn't, by any
chance, feel the urgent need to say something, would you?"
"As a matter of fact, I do!" Stephanie smiled
broadly and then laughed when she realized what she'd said.
Regaining the spirit of the moment, she turned to
Patterson. She hadn't planned on saying anything outside of the typical
ceremony, but Jillian's words had moved her to speak. That and the fact
that she just couldn't let Jillian out do her.
"Paddy, if someone would have told me a year ago that
I'd be standing here with you today, I would have thought they'd lost their
minds. After all, what would a person like you see in a person like
me. I was so lost and mixed up and confused and I...well...I did some
pretty rotten things. But none of that mattered to you. Of course,
you didn't condone some of the things that I did. In fact, it was just the
opposite. But, even so, you saw through them. You saw
through the me that everyone else saw and tried to see the real me -- the better
me. Paddy, you became my guiding light. No matter what secret storm
I was going through, you were constantly by my side, reeling me in when I went
too far and holding me up when I'd let myself get too down. You see the
best in me even when I can't see it and you make me want to be a better
person. Of course, you seem to have that effect on everybody. I'd
feel lucky enough just to count you as my friend, but you became so much more
than that. You're my love. My heart. Everything in this life
that I've ever wanted. I...I can't stand here and promise you that I'll
never do something foolish or say the wrong things. That's just not
me. I think you know that. No, actually, I know you know that.
And you love me anyway. So, I'm just going to stand here and promise you
this -- no matter what happens in our lives, I'll always love you. For now
"Patterson, would you like to say
something?" Reverend Rutledge cocked an eyebrow and waited for a
this," he smiled. "Stephanie, I love your fire and your spark
and your love of life and that love has taken me away to another world that I
never thought I'd find. You are the best of everything that I've ever
wanted and I promise you that will never change."
He turned back to the minister and smiled, signaling that
he was done. With a nod of recognition, Reverend Rutledge continued with
the formal part of the ceremony.
"Do, you, Patterson Arthur Monroe, take this woman,
Stephanie Elaine Lake, to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love, honor,
and cherish; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, for as long as
you both shall live?"
"And do you, Stephanie Elaine Lake, take this man,
Patterson Arthur Monroe, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To love,
honor, and cherish; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; for as
long as you both shall live?"
"I most certainly do."
Patterson heaved a huge sigh of relief as he reach out and
took Stephanie's hand. The most difficult part of the ceremony was
over. It wouldn't be long now.
"These rings that you're going to exchange are a
symbol of your unending love for one another and of the commitment that you're
making. A perfect circle. Never ending and never broken. As
you exchange rings, repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed."
"With this ring, I thee wed," they said together
Reverend Rutledge took a deep breath and smiled as he
looked at both of the happy couples.
"And now, by the power vested in me by our Heavenly
Father and this state, I now pronounce you husbands and wives.
Gentlemen, you may kiss your brides."