Our civil marriage

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A, me, & Judge Kopf just after he married us.  - November 21, 2012

She wore white.  He wore a suit.  Their mothers were smiling and talking to each other.  They were standing on our courthouse steps, our umbrellas protruding into their pictures as we departed for a morning coffee break.

I wanted to hug them and love them.  To tell them I noticed their wedding and that it was special.  I wanted them to know it had been noted by me.  That their crowd was small, but I cared.  I cared so deeply.  They took me back to the day that I married A in the federal courthouse in the District of Nebraska.  It was the most meaningful day of my life, and yet, there was a certain reality to it.

A and I got engaged on a beautiful day in September 2012.  He planned a huge scavenger hunt.  It was adorable.  I was so excited I didn't even manage to get a good picture.  Our parents were happy.  People were shocked.  It was our little moment.  It was perfect.  Except, he had this lingering cough, sickness.  We put down a deposit for a venue for September 7, 2013.

A few weeks later, the answer came swirling in like a tornado that took my understanding of life upside down and shattered everything steady into shards.  Cancer.  We started treatment.  The beginning of cancer treatment reminds me of the beginning of my first Bikram class or running the first truly hot day of summer.  You finish five minutes, think you can't possibly do anymore and realize you have another hour to go before you even get a rest.  You eek by it by forgetting about the hour and intensely focusing on the moment only.

I asked the doctor once about the wedding date and the deposit.  I asked A about canceling, postponing.  I asked these questions once.  I never asked them again.  They weren't important.

The beginning of chemo wasn't easy.  A had a blood clot from the first PICC line.  A fever here and there.  Then pulmonary embolisms.  There were nights when I called the 24-hour number and we lost no time getting to the cancer-ER.  The hospital locked, I knew to pick up the phone at the back door for an escort in.  I would look at the clock and slip into a plastic chair while the nurses ran the labs.  I would pour A a glass of water with ice from the machine.  I would walk around the treatment center and explore the empty wings.  Occasionally, I was afraid and I called my mother crying.  Sometimes I was just exhausted.  Other times I did cartwheels through the hospital corridors because why the hell not.  Rules didn't apply.

There was one night when I was alone with A.  It was the middle of the night and he was finally into a room up on the usual floor after a traumatic admission.  His heart-beats were...staccato. I was doing what I could to try to relax him to get that machine to stop alarming, when I heard the machine next door overpowering ours.  I watched everyone move quickly into the room.  I stepped out into the hallway and watched the electronic screens on the wall that have a constant image of the vital signs for all the patients on the floor.  A eventually stabilized, his hadn't really been that bad.  The room next door to ours flat-lined.  And I realized people died on that floor.  It happened without warning.  That was a thing.

September seemed eons away and I knew that if the worst happened, I would have wanted to have been married.  He is and was my person, after all.  But, I left the decision to him.  About a week before Thanksgiving, he decided that he wanted to go ahead and get married.  I contacted a Judge Kopf.  I had interned in his chambers.  He and his clerks had been very supportive in helping me establish a legal career and they were particularly supportive during A's cancer.  He immediately agreed to perform our ceremony and took care of everything.  He had flowers and champagne in the courtroom and even performed the marriage on the record so that we had a video.
Judge Kopf tells us some important things about marriage and we exchange vows. 

The day of our ceremony, A went into the hospital for labs and they asked to keep him for hours of blood transfusions.  He told them to hold off and met me for the ceremony.  He was sick--I'll spare you the details, except to say that I think he barely made it through the event.  We skipped dinner and went straight back to the hospital.

Our story is a happy one -- we got the September wedding that had been predicted unlikely.  A dislikes remembering our November ceremony because it isn't what he wanted.  But, my heart melts the most thinking about the cold Nebraska day and our commitment.  A lot of people went out of their way to make it something that is special to me.  I felt like our commitment had been noted and I felt like it mattered.

The rest is just icing on the cake.

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