Like Michael Jackson said, it’s close to midnight – and there’s something lurking in the dark.
It’s happiness and bliss. It’s joy and gratitude.
It’s a crazy little thing called love.
This is Sept. 22, 2017, and Sara and I have been married 10 years today.
It almost didn’t happen. No, I didn’t get cold feet, I just got too comfortable. I fell asleep in my hotel room in Page, Arizona. The wedding was set to begin at 4 p.m.
At first I thought the ringing sound was part of a dream, and then I thought it must be from the TV. This old cowpoke fell asleep watching a western on the hotel TV – and they don’t have too many phones in them.
I finally realized it was the phone in my room and I groggily picked up the receiver.
“Open the door,” I heard Sara say.
“Your brother’s here.”
“Huh?” I replied, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. My family’s on the East Coast – Rhode Island and Florida – and as far as I knew none of them were going to be able to make it to the wedding.
And then I heard my older brother Eddy’s voice from the other side of the door. “Open the door, you knucklehead!”
Yep, that was my brother. I opened the door. Eddy was there with his youngest daughter Brandi and her husband John.
“You’re not dressed,” Brandi noticed. I had clothes on, just not my wedding attire. It was 3:40 p.m.
I hurriedly dressed and we made it to the Navajo Village hogan where the ceremony was to take place. Sara, the daughter of Page residents Bernice Austin-Begay and Reuben D. Begay, and I were having a traditional Navajo wedding. I huddled beneath an overhang to hide from the deluge falling from the sky.
I didn’t know how it was for Navajos, but in my Narragansett culture it is a good sign when rain falls on a solemn occasion. It means you are being blessed by tears from heaven.
Man, was I being blessed. Luckily I was so fast that I was able to dodge all the rain as I made my way inside the hogan. Well, I wasn’t that fast. I arrived at the hogan looking like a half-drowned puppy.
A few moments later – at 4 p.m. – Sara, a 1987 Page High School graduate, entered the hogan carrying the Navajo wedding basket filled with the blue corn mush. Later, some of the guests who could not squeeze into the hogan told us something amazing happened. As Sara entered the hogan the sun came out, the rain lessened – and a rainbow appeared over the hogan.
Yes, we were being blessed.
For those who know Norse mythology, the rainbow was Bifrost, the bridge the gods used to travel between Asgard and Midgard (earth).
I guess I was being blessed the Narragansett way, and by Thor, Odin and Freya. Freya is the goddess of love and beauty – I guess she came to see her rival!
Sara had versed me on the Navajo ceremony. There was one part I didn’t much look forward to. No, not the honeymoon part. It was something else.
To bind the two families together the medicine man, Johnson Dennison, blessed the basket of mush with the Navajo corn pollen offering, and presented us with the blue corn mush to eat. Now, I hate blue mush. As far as that goes, I don’t eat green eggs and ham either. Well, maybe I would eat green ham.
From an earlier wedding ceremony she attended Sara informed me that the bride and groom eat a handful of mush and then the basket gets passed around to the families. I decided to be slick. I took the tiniest pinch of blue corn mush and swallowed it.
“We’ll be here all day if you’re going to eat it like that,” Dennison said.
He did the ceremony differently and Sara and I had to eat the whole basket of blue mush ourselves.
It was worth it. It’s been 10 years, and yet it feels like only 10 days. My heart skips a beat every time I see her. Maybe the rainbow appeared over the hogan because it wanted to see something more beautiful than itself.
I don’t know how I got so lucky. Not only did I get a pretty wife, but I got my best friend, my soulmate.
She encourages my writing, always with a word of support. When my spirit is down, she lifts me up.
She’s the rock that I lean on.
Sara is smart and kind; she still leaves me little notes taped to the bathroom mirror. I can’t help but grin when I spot a note from her.
We laugh a lot together; we seem to read each other’s minds and hearts.
I value her advice more than anyone else’s. With a life of loneliness and unhappiness behind me, it seems strange to have someone that I know always has my back. To know I have someone in my life who loves me unconditionally and accepts my faults.
I have my own lovely angel, and I pray that it will always be so.
John Christian Hopkins, an award-winning novelist and humor columnist, is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe. See his writings at http://authorjohnchopkins.blogspot.com.