When July finally arrived we were miraculously ready.
The day wasn’t perfect. That only happens in stories. There was a high wind. The waves on the beach were huge. The sky was overcast. I didn’t care. I was marrying, officially, at least in one state, the man I loved.
Against the drone of the wind, the justice of the peace said, “You may exchange your vows.”
I looked around. Here we were in tuxedos, standing before the assembled witnesses, in the wind and the roar of the waves, professing our love for one another and our desire to live the rest of our lives in union. How could the rest of the world see this as a threat to them? To me it seemed so simple. I loved this man. He loved me. What else needed to be said: oh yeah, economics, politics, religion. Fuck them. I only wanted to live the rest of my life as partner, spouse of this man.
“I, Andrew, take thee, David, to be my wedded husband,” Andy began. “To honor, love and cherish, for richer for poorer, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, (he had already proven that) forsaking all others, till death do us part.
I couldn’t repeat the vows I’d made to Patti. So, I’d made up some of my own.
“I, David, take you, Andrew to love for the rest of my life. I will rejoice with you in good times. I will suffer with you in bad. I will take care of you if you are sick as you have done for me. I will stay with you no matter what happens in our lives. You brought me back to life when I thought I was dead. I promise now to live my life in support of yours. And, until death takes either one of us, I will be steadfast in my love and faithfulness to you.”
The justice of the peace asked us to exchange rings. Brad, as Andy’s best man, stepped forward and pulled a ring out of his vest pocket. It was a gold horseshoe nail in a ring shape. He placed it on my finger.
“David, with this ring,” he said, “I pledge to you that you are my husband for the rest of my life.”
I’d bought a simple, plain, gold ring for Andy, but he had other ideas. When Mike stepped forward and took a ring from his pocket it was one that matched the one Andy had just given me. He handed it to me. I took it and smiled.
Andy, you are so wonderful.
“Andy, with this ring,” I said, “I pledge to you that you are my husband for the rest of my life.”
The officiating authority spoke. “By the power vested in me by the State of Massachusetts, I now pronounce you…uh…um…man and husband, I guess.”
Then we kissed, the wind roared and the surf pounded, the assembled crowd cheered.
Later we slipped away from the party. The wind had died down and the night was warm, the atmosphere magical. Mikey and John had arranged for the chairs from the ceremony to be replaced with a tent. but the night was so warm we pulled the air mattress out on the sand. We stood in the moonlight in our tuxes, facing one another, hands joined.
For my part, this was beyond imagination. I was standing on a beach on Cape Cod with a man, who, just five years ago, was an alcoholic bum living under a bridge in Ann Arbor, Michigan. By some quirk of fate, he had become my husband, spouse, or whatever you called a same sex partner.
I knew we were going to have sex. That’s what you did on your wedding night. But that wasn’t what was important. What was important was that we, Andy and I, were married, we were one. I thought back to last year after the accident, when I couldn’t perform sexually. It hadn’t changed one thing, not one single thing. He had loved me and I had loved him. The love was there without the sex. I knew, as the years went by, sex would become less prominent in our lives. He was fifteen years my junior. Yet, I trusted that when the time came for him to understand, he would. I had no fear of what was to come. I knew that he loved me, that he would never leave me and that as age took its toll, he would be there. Tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m just happy.”
God, you did this for me: moonlight. the ocean. tuxedos. wedding rings. Jerry Falwell, eat your heart out.
We backed away from each other. Our eye contact never wavered. Slowly we took off one piece of clothing at a time. We finally stood naked in the moonlight. How long we stood eyes locked I can’t begin to tell. All I know for certain is that the love I felt that night was infinite and eternal.
By some quirk of fate, or some divine hand of providence, Andy had come into my life. I was free to embrace him. Society and religion be damned. I was now married to this man, Andrew Jeffery Barnes, for the remainder of my life.
We stood in the moonlight, the waves pounding in rhythm with our hearts. Andy looked into my eyes. We enfolded each other in an embrace. We were one
© Terry O'Reilly
With These Rings
Author: Terry O'Reilly
Publisher: Excessica Press
David Bennett and Andy Barnes met “One Night In December” and created a family by falling in love. Their family was completed with the adoption of Brad Sturgis, orphaned with the death of his parents. The story continues in With These Rings.
David, Andy and Brad embrace the joys and face the challenges of being a gay family: the happiness of a wedding ceremony, the struggle of coming to grips with sexual identity and near fatal tragedies. All these combine in this story of love and commitment.
From horse shows, family celebrations, a wedding on the beach to bedside vigils, football games to identity crises, David and Andy face it all with steadfast love and punctuate it with the passionate physical expression of their love.
With These Rings reveals the highs and lows of life and binds them together with humor and courage.