Hazel had forgotten just how much stress was involved in planning a wedding. The flowers, the music and the food all had to be arranged and paid for long before even a whiff of perfume or a puff of powder was applied to the bride. Not to mention the expense that came with the dress itself; Hazel smiled at the lacy contraption hanging on her wardrobe door and touched the trailing skirt thoughtfully. It was beautiful, of course, but perhaps too dated and formal to be considered fashionable. In fact, it was very like the one she had worn when marrying Isaac over forty years ago. She turned to the mirror and pulled at her cheeks gently; the skin had lost its elasticity but not its colour, she had always been fortunate that way. She scanned herself briefly; had it really been that long? Everyone had said they were a perfect match... and so romantic, getting married on her twenty-first birthday with only close friends and family. Totally without pomp or ceremony; all that was saved for the huge reception needed to cater for both of their rather extensive, families. With a sigh, she sat on the edge of the bed and wondered what he would have thought of all this going on now, twelve years after his death? Would he approve?
“Well, we have our something blue!” Sarah bustled into the room with a sunny smile and Hazels eldest granddaughter, Iona, in tow, “What's wrong mum?” She frowned and put down the small box she had been carrying,
“I was thinking about your father,” Hazel ventured cautiously; Sarah's heart was in the right place but she often panicked when Hazel told her such things. She seemed to think that such thoughts were a bad thing, that they could only lead to sadness. Sure enough, her mouth drew in and she sighed,
“Mum... you know you are allowed to move on,” Sarah rubbed her plump hands together anxiously, darting glances at the ever sombre Iona whose hair was now a shocking blue. Hazel grinned,
“Are you the something blue then?” Such a vibrant girl; it was simply a shame that she insisted on wearing such clunky, unflattering clothes. No matter, though, she was pretty enough to carry them well. She was always talking about one boy or another, so others must have agreed with her pride,
“No!” Iona screwed up her face and snorted, scandalised, before touching her backcombed hair gently. She took the small, ornate box from the dressing table and passed it to her with a rare twitch of her painted lips, “This is.”
A beautiful, blue brooch shaped like a dragonfly,
“Well...isn't this just gorgeous,” her granddaughter's face was impassive as ever but, under the Kohl and powder and heavy eye-shadow, Hazel thought she saw a glimmer of pleasure, “did you choose this, flower?”
“Me and mum did.” Iona nodded, chewing her short nails absent-mindedly,
“Mum and I.” Sarah quickly corrected, giving Hazel an amused look when Iona rolled her eyes and sighed,
“Mother and I picked it at an antique shop in Edinburgh,” she drawled, blue eyes rolling dramatically under heavy lashes, “Do you like it, though, Gran?” Hazel nodded and beckoned her over, gripping her pale hand,
“I love it.” She said, “I'll put it on my best jacket after today.”
So many of the small rituals were the same as they had been all those years ago. They checked the dress and shoes to make sure they were acceptable, they curled and straightened and teased hair until their scalps were sore and had a small glass of wine to ease nerves. They powdered and patted and perfumed themselves until the room seemed hazy. And, of course, at least three of the gathered relatives had major arguments which ended in tears, which gave them time for an extra glass of bubbly, at least,
“It's nothing Paula won't get over!” Sarah tutted as she ran the straighteners through Iona's hair again, “imagine fighting over who gets the aisle seat in the church,” She laughed and shook her head, “it's enough to make you glad you're past all that, am I right, Mum?” Hazel nodded and winced as a particularly stubborn curl was teased and sprayed into submission before taking a final sip of wine and putting her glass down.
“Well, here we are!” She stood and twirled with a laugh, “we have our something old too... and don't I look wonderful?” She struck a pose and touched her hair self-consciously; it had been a long time since she had been this dolled up... but it felt good. The whole day, tantrums and all, had been lovely so far, so much so that her doubts were slipping away,
“You're not old Gran!” Iona shrugged, arms crossed over her waist and looking pretty but uncomfortable when stripped bare of her cosmetics, “What are you, like, seventy-nine?”
“I am seventy-three and not a second older.” Hazel admonished, pretending to be shocked as she raised her brows at the brash confidence that comes with being fifteen. Pursing her lips she brushed some dried flakes of hairspray from her shoulders and smiled at her duly sheepish granddaughter, “but thank you, darling.” Isaac would have wanted her to be happy, she reasoned. As her youngest son, Carl, applied a fine layer of make-up to her face, Hazel reasoned with the pangs of guilt; her memories of him were permanent. No matter how long they were together, Stuart was not a replacement. He was her something new.
Sarah buttoned up her dress while Iona clipped on the brooch and, all the while, she felt Isaac beside her,
“Go one, girl, go have some fun.” His memory seemed to whisper in her ear... and didn't she deserve some fun? Wasn't that the point of doing it all again with some panache? The dress, the make-up, the champagne were all little luxuries that could have been dispensed with this time around but, as she slipped into her shoes, she asked herself what the point of a wedding was without celebration? No need for a limo, though Carl had offered to hire her one for the day; bless him, he was more glamorous than all his sisters put together. If anyone had told Hazel her youngest would be a renowned make-up artist, she would have laughed herself silly... but here he was, sitting in the drivers' seat next to her; proof that making choices that make you happy paid off. He'd encouraged her to do the whole lot; the full shebang, so to speak, reasoning that it was her and Stuarts hard-earned cash and if they wanted to spend it on a wedding then they should,
“You only live once, Mum.” He'd said as he slumped onto the well-loved sofa, “Why not? Everyone needs a good party now and then, it is your day. Remember that!”
Of course, when the bouquet was pressed into her hands and her sons gripped her arms, it was hard to forget that. Their local church was packed full; every tiny inch of its stone walls put to hard use. Though considering its size, she reflected, that wasn't hard. The butterflies in her stomach seemed to be having a party and the minuscule heels on her shoes now seemed towering. One step at a time, she told herself and began to walk, listing in her head their four somethings. There was herself who, despite her families protests, she had cheerfully labelled the weddings 'something old'. Then there was the brooch; something blue. She had borrowed the shoes from Elsa; her oldest friend had been nearly as happy as her when Stuart proposed. Then there was Stuart, standing at the head of the church with a wide smile on his face, who had revitalised her life so quickly. He was her something new. Hazel gripped her long dress with one hand and raised the hem a little as she took the small steps; with the other, she reached out to her future and smiled.