The Next Step

All eyes are on me.

The distance between me and my future husband is only a few metres, but the end of the aisle feels like miles away.

A beaming congregation of family and friends stand before me, framed by the delicate coral roses and white ribbons that line the pews. The butterflies in my stomach start to somersault as I sense the air of anticipation all around me. It makes me realise that everything has come together, and it begins with this very moment.

Breathing out slowly, I turn to my dad whose arm I am holding to steady myself. He gives me a reassuring nod and the organist begins to play the Wedding March. I know this is my cue to move.

I take my first step. My right shoe peeps out from underneath my dress and sparkles in the sunlight. As I pick up the pace, my brain takes over and directs my feet: step left, step right, step left. I can hear my heart pounding as adrenaline sprints around my body.

The sea of faces follow my every move; they study my white lace dress as it sways from side to side, my hair that cascades in loose curls either side of my veil, and my coral and white bouquet as it bobs up and down in time with my steps. I’m not as elegant as most brides, but then everyone is different.

Feeling the pressure, I begin to stumble. My dad catches me and squeezes my elbow reassuringly. I ignore the gasps and continue towards the alter to greet my fiancé, who waits patiently for me.

His eyes are on the ground; I can’t read his face at the moment, but I know he will be trying to control his emotions. He is the first person to help, but the last person to show the world how he feels.

As I approach the end of the aisle, he turns to face me. He has tears in his eyes, as he simultaneously shakes his head and grins in disbelief.

“You look beautiful”, he mouths. I never believe him when he says that, but today it feels right. This means so much to both of us.

My left foot joins my right foot and I breathe a big sigh of relief.

The music fades and I suddenly think about how I am smiling. I didn’t realise that I was. Out of nowhere, the congregation begins to clap and cheer. It gets louder and louder, so I turn around to face them.

My eyes scan the pews, and the crowd becomes familiar: I see my mum in the front row and her loving, kind smile; my cousins, who have flown over from Australia just to be here; and, of course, Dr. John, the man who saved my life the night of the accident.

“I’m sorry, Jaquie, but there is very little chance that you may ever walk again”, he once said to me.

“Little chance? So, there is a chance…”, I remember replying.

I begin to laugh and enjoy the moment. All eyes are on me, but now it is different.

 

Jaquie was told she would never walk again after an accident left her paralysed from the neck down.

After years of intense physical therapy and teaching herself how to walk again, Jaquie made it her mission to walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

Not only did she walk down the aisle, she also danced the night away with her husband and family.

The End

Story based on real life events.

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