The ceremony is beautiful, there's no question about that. It's an outdoor wedding, specifically a beach one. More specifically, an ocean.
The scene is like one out of those wedding magazines. Almost eerily flawless. The white chairs make perfect, symmetrical rows. There are two rows of six chairs apiece resting on the golden sand. A total of twelve guests are expected to attend.
A path of lovely rose petals of a deep, blood red rest between the chairs, breaking the two rows of six into four separate rows of three. The flower petals look somewhat out of place on the sandy shore of the beach. That incompatibility somehow ties the whole scene together, though.
The bridesmaids are wearing unusually flattering lavender dresses. They all look lovely, contrasting the typical bridesmaid stereotype. They aren't meant to make the bride look better. You've always hated that about bridesmaids' dresses.
The tears begin to escape your eyes as you stare at the lovely scene before you. You know this is important. You know you're doing this for a reason. You even know that you love the man standing at the altar.
The problem is, you don't recognize the man. You don't recognize the bridesmaids. You don't recognize the groomsmen. You don't recognize the guests either.
When the maid of honor steps beside you, you recognize her. Your daughter, the oldest one. You know that. She has your long, straight, blonde hair. She has your piercing green eyes. She has her father's olive skin, his strong jaw line, and his perfect nose. You know she is your child, but try as you might, you can't remember her name.
She looks at you and recognizes the confusion in your face. You can see the pain in her eyes as she holds back her tears and you remember the diagnosis, clear as day. Alzheimer's. Knowing that you have it doesn't mean you can fix it though. It doesn't mean you can remember your daughter's name. It just means that you know why you can't remember her name.
"Da-" she begins to call to her father, but you shake your head.
"No, honey. Don't worry." You smile your most reassuring smile at her, hoping to comfort her. She seems to relax a bit, not noticing your lack of using her name. If she does notice, she ignores it and begins her march up the aisle. You follow her after a moment, to meet up with the man you do not recognize.
If you hadn't recognized your daughter, you would not have a clue who the man beside you is. You see the resemblance though. The one you knew was there even though you couldn't remember her father. He is older now, much older than your last memory of him. Then again, that memory is fuzzy. Like trying to study someone in your peripheral vision.
The man before you is in his sixties. Which makes sense, as you recall. This isn't a wedding. It's a vow renewal. You still don't remember his name. You don't know the wedding guests. All you recognize is your daughter and your husband.
He smiles at you, revealing perfect teeth. Perfect teeth that are his, not dentures. You smile back, searching your mind for his name. Trying to remember. You don't realize you're crying until he wipes the tears away. The joy is gone from his face. It's replaced with a sadness so intense you want to take it away immediately. You would rather die than put him through this.
He turns to the crowd and without knowing how you know, you know that he's going to call off the ceremony.
"No!" you whisper quickly. Even to you, your voice sounds crazed. You take a deep breath. You're old and forgetful, but you're not crazy. "No, sweetheart. We have to do this."
You're losing your mind. You need him to have this memory. You need him to know that you love him. You need him to know that you always will.
Even if you can't remember his God damned name.
Even if someday you won't even remember his face.
Even if eventually you won't even remember the marriage.
You need him to know. With an unbelievable certainty, you want him to know that you love him.
It's more than that, though. You want him to be there for you while you slowly lose your mind. You don't want to do it alone. You need his support, especially when you no longer remember him.
He frowns, but allows the ceremony to continue. You smile and your tears transform from those of sadness, to those of joy.
You say your, 'I do's and despite the fact that the preacher just said his name, you didn't hear it. Still can't remember it.
The kiss is short, but sweet. The 'proper' kind that your generation believed in. Getting hot and heavy in front of a crowd of people is distasteful. You may not remember your husband's name, but you still have your sense of propriety.
He smiles at you and tears pool in your eyes again, but this time they're happy. So unbelievably happy.
You blink them away, but the wedding scene dissolves, replaced with the bland white walls of a hospital. The smell of ammonia burns your nose, but the smile is still in place. The memory is too pleasant to be ruined by the realization that it's just that. A memory.
The nurse looks over at you, smiling back. You meet her eyes.
"Where's my husband?" you ask.
Her smile falters and her eyes are saddened. "He died three months ago."
Your eyes widen in shock and your chest tightens as you hold back tears. "Why didn't anyone tell me?"
Her eyes are even sadder. "We've been telling you everyday since it happened."
The pain in your chest increases. The tears return, sad this time. Suddenly you hear the loud beeeeep! of a hospital heart monitor.
The hospital will tell your kids it was a heart-attack.
You know the truth.
You died of a broken heart.