Apologies. I had forgotten that I posted this story already. But here's the second part for those who didn't see it last time.
The wedding day was a glorious fall spectacular and even the trees were in their finest form. Not to be outdone the attendees came to the wedding Mass dressed in their Sunday best and packed the beautiful old gothic Sacred Heart Parish church. The magic moment came for the bride to walk down the aisle and the mighty pipe organ, roused from its too long slumber of inept players by the finest organist money could persuade to play for the marriage rites, began the bride’s fanfare. Mary appeared at the end of aisle. Jerry’s breath escaped him and tears filled his eyes. The congregation gasped. As she passed each pew the people’s hearts were moved in love by her beauty. Reaching the sanctuary she placed her hand into her intended’s and electricity shot through his body. Everything was a blur to him until it came time to exchange their vows.
They stood holding right hands before the priest in front of the high altar and the priest began, “Do you Jerome Waverly take Mary Malloy as your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, will you love her an honor her all the days of your life?”
With great emotion Jerry responded, “I do!”
The priest then turned to Mary. “Do you . . .”
“Wait,” she interrupted him. Jerry’s heart began to beat erratically. Turning her eyes to the man who had just publically declared his undying love for her she asked, “Do you mean that Jerry?”
“This must be the test!” he thought to himself. So mustering all of his will he definitively declared, “Yes, Mary. Absolutely.”
“In good times and in bad? Sickness and health? All the days of your life no matter what?”
He started to tremble just a bit and with just a slightly less assured voice responded, “But of course Mary.”
“Then remember our deal.” And with that she left. Well, she didn’t exactly walk out as much as it seemed she faded away - or perhaps back – or up! In any event she was gone. Oddly enough nobody seemed to think it terribly strange. Mary was, after all, different.
Jerry was devastated. Believing that surely she would reappear over the next weeks and months he kept thinking that he spied her in a crowd or heard her voice across the room. With every door knock he was convinced it would be her on the other side of the door and every time the phone rang he answered with the question, “Mary?” But Mary had thoroughly disappeared. Nobody had seen hide nor hair of her.
Friends stopped by to console Jerry. Even Mary’s friends would drop in but often made things worse by reminding him, “Well, Mary was different after all.” One girl in particular made it her mission to heal his love sick heart and one day, one long day afterward, Jerry realized that he had come to love her. Not in the same way that he loved Mary, but he loved her none-the-less and so asked her to marry him. She gladly accepted and a year later at the stately Sacred Heart Parish church a wedding was once again staged with twice as many people in attendance (for who knew what might happen this time) and a new priest just for luck.
Nothing out of the ordinary occurred however and the guests, not entirely truthful in their stated relief, commented that the day went about as well as such days can. In reality each of them had been secretly awaiting a new development in the whole drama. But whole wedding day, the honeymoon, and even the settling into their new home went pretty much without a hitch.
Another year passed and Jerry was home alone when the doorbell rang. He felt a familiar tingling sensation in his stomach though he was not sure why. His heart raced. He opened the door and there on the stoop was Mary, still in her wedding gown, still radiant and hopeful looking. Next to her was the priest who was to marry them. “I’m ready now Jerry. I’m ready to say my half of the vows.”
Later he could only imaging how he must have looked; mouth agape, eyes bugged out, arms hanging limply. “B – b – b – but Mary! You left me at the altar.”
“That was the test silly! I warned you it would happen before I said, ‘I do.’ And now I am ready to forsake all and give my love to you fully and for the rest of our lives!”
“Oh gee Mary. I don’t know how to . . . you see . . . well gosh Mary, I’m married now.”
“I don’t understand.” She said it though with a wry smile as if she really did understand. “You promised publically to love me, and honor me, in good times and in bad forsaking all others for the rest of our lives. Did you falter in that so quickly?”
“But Mary! What was I supposed to do? I didn’t know!”
“But you said you were sick in love with me. That no matter what you had to have me and I told you that I would say ‘I do’ did I not? Can your true love only last a year and half?”
He opened his mouth but nothing came out.
She laughed. “Don’t worry my sweet Jerry. I knew you wouldn’t wait. You didn’t really love me like you thought you did. You wanted love from me, your new desire is to love your wife. You are going to be happier now than you know as long as you choose to love your wife in good times and bad, sickness and health, all the days of your life. I would have (and did!) eventually disappointed you and your dream would have been ruined too, but with her you are building a dream together.” With that she stepped backwards into the yard – really walking this time not just fading away. When she reached the middle of the yard she lifted her hands and as she did so she was transformed into a giant magnolia tree that over the years always seemed to be in blossom. Though people would comment on its beauty nobody ever questioned its blossoms. And on occasion when Jerry was standing out on his front stoop eyeing a pretty young lady passing by, a branch might fall from the tree and clunk him on the head at which point he would remember that he was happy, turn back into the house where was his wife and he would love her.