Forty years ago today, June 14, 1980, I was married to Bruce Van Hine. We had a smallish wedding in a little white church in New Milford, NJ. We were married in the morning because I knew if we had afternoon ceremony, Bruce would schedule a tree job and probably arrive late. I dressed in my tea length wedding gown at my parent’s house where I still lived. My Dad and I traveled to the church in a Rolls Royce, supplied as a perk from the reception venue. My Dad walked me down the aisle. My bestest friend, Carol, was my maid of honor. My baby sister, my two cousins and my niece were my bridesmaids. Bruce and I knelt at the altar, received communion and as Pastor Charlie prayed I knew if I had opened my eyes to peek I would have seen Jesus’ feet standing behind us. The church bells rang out as we exited through a shower of rice. Photos were taken at a park and are cherished to this day. Sidenote: make sure people take off their sunglasses before photos.

The reception was a delicious brunch at a lovely place in Wyckoff. Afterwards my Mum and Dad hosted a small gathering at my childhood home. I remember Bruce and I sitting on my bed opening cards. I remember Tony telling me that while I was on my honeymoon he was going to ask Carol to marry him. He knew she would want me to know. We went to Bruce’s parents’ home for another celebration and to pick up his suitcase before heading to the airport hotel. That didn’t go as smoothly as I had imagined as he hadn’t finished packing. I wasn’t pleased. I reminded him I had planned the wedding, had my annual recital the week before and all he had to do was pack and plan the honeymoon. His sister was able to include some silly sayings and items since the suitcase hadn’t been secured. We enjoyed a week in St Thomas and returned to start real life together.

We experienced joys and sorrows. We grew as people and a couple. He was my biggest supporter and cheerleader. To be honest I don’t think much about what could’ve been. I can’t imagine because today would be different in every way if he hadn’t died in the line of duty. But I do know on the morning of September 11, 2001 that our life was good. We were in a good place and looking forward to the future. We were happy. I have no regrets.

Many times through our time together I would say to Bruce:

Don’t walk behind me I may not lead.

Don’t walk in front of me I may not follow.

Just walk beside me and be my friend. Albert Camus

Thanks, Bruce for being my friend. Thank you for the life we shared and the life you provided for me now. I love you.