God, the vows. That’s what I’m the most nervous over.
I wrote mine a year ago.
Then proceeded to rewrite it.
And rewrite it.
And rewrite it.
And it’s literally the day of the wedding and I’m trying to rewrite it again.
“Nova, stop,” my mother says, looking over my shoulder. Mahina is doing my hair (yeah, she’s a pro surfer and awesome at hair) and just finishing putting it up, pinning plumeria in places, while I’m trying to edit my vows on my phone’s note section.
“I just want it to be perfect,” I tell my mother.
“Honey, look at me.”
I glance up over my shoulder at her, Mahina stepping to the side and pinning another flower above my ear.
“Just relax, honey,” my mother says. “Have faith. Deep faith. You know everything is going to be fine.”
I nod, taking in a deep breath, as if to conjure my faith from within.
My mom looks absolutely gorgeous. She always does. She’s ageless. She has the best skin, so flawless, no wrinkles, her hair is short and natural with a few highlights at the tips from being in the sun. She also has a flower in her hair, a giant coral hibiscus that Mahina clipped in, which matches her lipstick.
She and my father have been in Hawaii for a month now. Once they knew I was getting married, well they couldn’t object to my buying their tickets, and my father put his fear of flying aside. But they decided if they were going to come all this way, they wanted to do it in style so they’ve spent their time on a cruise visiting all the different islands.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but I feel like they’re falling in love with the state. For years I have been begging them to move out here. With the motel sold and Rubina gone, there’s nothing to hold them to Washington except for guilt and memories. I want them to break out of the rain and gloom and spend their days in a place where you feel Aloha in every single part of you.
Selfishly, I want them here for me. I want them to be with me and Kessler and Hunter.
I want them to spend their days on the beach with their new grandchild.
In fact, I’m almost ready to explode. I’m at seven months and my dress has had to be taken out a lot, even though it’s empire-waisted. I look like someone’s lost beach ball got wedged under here.
I know that we probably should have held off on the whole preggo thing until after the wedding but I’m just going to blame a wild night where I’d been lazy with the pill and Kessler had reached for a piña colada condom and well, surprise. Baby on the way!
Not that we aren’t overjoyed. I wasn’t sure how badly I wanted to be the mother of Kessler’s children until I saw that positive test and then I was smiling through morning sickness.
Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. Morning sickness was absolutely horrendous and it was a lot of Kessler holding my hair back in the bathroom, at the beach, at the pool, etc. But Kessler has been a trooper. He’s taken to this pregnancy like nothing else. I think he’s finally making up for lost time when he couldn’t be there for Hunter.
Speaking of Hunter, he’s pretty darn cute about the whole thing and is super protective of the bump, speaking to it already like a big brother. He’s five now and, though he’s still quiet, he’s an active, curious little guy who calls me mom so freely and with so much love that it breaks my heart a little to hear it.
I wasn’t aware of how much love I had inside me until I met Kessler.
Until I met Hunter.
Until they asked me to be a part of their lives forever.
Until I learned I was going to bring another soul to love into this world.
Now I feel like a star about to implode in the most beautiful way.
I exhale slowly, letting any fear and worry leave me. It’s something I’ve been working on these last few years, especially after I went into therapy. There were some things to do with Rubina that I hadn’t quite dealt with that I needed to deal with. The guilt. The fear. The loss.
My mom massages my shoulders. “There you go. Let it go. All that worry. Honey, you’re going to marry the man of your dreams today, the father of your child. That’s the only thing that matters right now, nothing else.”
I give her a sad smile. “I wish Rubina were here.”
She sighs lightly. “I know. You know I do too. But she’s around us, she always is. You know that, don’t you?”
I nod. I do. I feel it growing in my chest in a place I kept barren until Kessler convinced me otherwise.
“I hate to interrupt,” Mahina says quietly. “But I think it’s time.”
She gestures to the doorway of my bedroom where Kate and Desiree are, dressed in the same teal flowy bridesmaid dress Mahina is wearing. Because we’re just blocks from the beach where the wedding is, we figured my house made a good staging place as any. Plus, there’s a lot of POG and champagne here and I’m looking forward to finishing it all off when this is over.
When this is over, Kessler will be my husband.
I wonder if I’ll ever stop marveling over that word.
I hope I never do.
While Kate squeals over how good I look, my mother picks up my long train and we head out of the house and down the road. Since Mike, who, yes, is my assistant at Kahuna Hotels, picked up the photography hobby out in Thailand (which he insists had nothing to do with porn) he’s our wedding photographer and taking pictures, running ahead of us all and making us pose. Occasionally, a flock of chickens get in the shot and I think about Kessler’s reaction if it makes the final wedding photos.
And then…it’s time.
The beach has been taken over by guests in white chairs flanked by plumeria and orchid blooms, a shell-lined aisle leading up to the altar where Kessler stands with the officiant, and Bradah Ed and Teef as his best man and groomsman, with my bridesmaids on the other side. I know Hunter would have come up the aisle earlier as the ring bearer and I can only imagine how cute that was.
When I start going down the aisle with my father on my arm, I feel all my cares and worries drift away.
“You’ve never looked more beautiful,” my father whispers in my ear, and I see tears glistening in his eyes. I swallow my own tears down and try to keep it together for everyone’s sake. I look forward as we walk, my eyes locked on Kessler’s. Both he and my father are giving me strength and love every step of the way.
Once at the altar, everything becomes a blur. We went for the shortest ceremony because we didn’t want to bore people but it goes way too fast and before I know it, it’s time for our vows.
Kessler goes first and I’m holding my breath at how gorgeous he looks, dressed in his tuxedo, reminding me of that New Years when I realized I was in love with him again, even if I didn’t know it.
“Nova,” Kessler says to me, holding out a wrinkled piece of paper with shaking hands. It’s practically see-through. “When people talk about your name, they say you are a new star in the sky. That you suddenly appear where there wasn’t a star before, bringing light into the darkness. I couldn’t agree with that more. But the truth of what a Nova really is, is that you’re not just a star alone. You’re part of another star. You’re the result of two stars that come together, becoming so much brighter than what those stars were before.”
He takes in a deep breath, looks across the crowd, and keeps reading. “That’s how I feel with you. That you shine so bright it blinds me but when we’re together, we become something else. We transcend the people that we were. We become something greater together, a bright force in an ever darkening sky. Nova when I’m with you, I…”
He trails off, stares at me and I see wetness forming in the corners of his eyes and I really hope that it’s sweat because if he starts crying I’m going to break the fuck down.
“Nova, I…” He goes back to reading from the paper.
Looks up at me.
Looks at our officiant and gives him a sheepish smile.
Looks at the crowd.
Crumples up the paper and flicks it to the side.
“I can’t even read what I’ve written now,” he admits to me. “I wrote it before I even proposed to you and the rest of the words have all faded away.”
“You know you probably should have double-checked that before the wedding,” I tell him but I’m laughing because honestly, now that we’re standing here like this, the vows aren’t the most important thing. The important thing is that I’m here with him and we’re pledging to be together forever.
“I’m just going to wing it,” Kessler says. He grabs my hands and squeezes them tight. “Nova, baby, I love you. That’s really all I can say and it isn’t enough. It will never be enough. Maybe I’m better off not having those vows because all of those words couldn’t describe the way that I feel about you. I tried and I did my best. You know how I like to try and market anything, and yet I knew I would fail when it comes to telling you how I feel. I’m trying to be a romantic but it’s hard when maybe the best thing to say is the easiest. So here it goes. Nova, I can’t wait to love you forever, to sit on the porch and name geckos and grow old with you. With Hunter, with our baby, with nothing else but our love. That’s all I need. That’s all I need for the rest of my life.”
I’m not sure if he’s crying or sweating but I know I am, big fat tears running down my cheeks. I can’t stop staring at him, at my husband-to-be, at the beautiful ocean behind him and the sun coming through the clouds and everything is just too big for this moment, too grand to contain.
Words won’t do it for me either.
I glance at the crowd, at my parents, at Hunter and Loan, at Kate and Desiree and everyone from work. Everyone I care about, my closest friends and loved ones and I think how lucky I am.
Like Kessler, I need to keep it simple.
“Baby,” I say to him. “I had written my vows a long time ago too. I had written them and rewritten them and rewritten them because I could never get it quite right. I was rewriting them this afternoon, thinking I finally found the right words, but you made me realize no amount of words will do. I love you Kessler Rocha. I am honored to become your wife, to be the mother of your children. I am filled with Aloha for you, my spirit and yours will be together until we’re all just stars in the sky.”