As nervous as Barbara was just days before the wedding, to see her now, no one would have guessed.
Evelyn couldn't remember her friend ever being so serene. But when you knew in your heart that you were marrying the right man there was no need to be nervous. She knew that from her own experience when she married Rafe. Their circumstances were different than Barbara's, mainly because she wasn't going to have a baby but even in the condition she was in, Evelyn knew that she was marrying the right man. And he hadn't proved her wrong in nearly ten years of marriage.
The bride's room was quiet as Evelyn took the last of the rollers out of Barbara's hair and began to brush it out.
"It doesn't seem so long ago that I was brushing your hair out on your wedding day." Barbara commented with a sigh. "It seems like you and Rafe have always been married."
"It does to me too. Things happened so fast with us with Danny coming a lot sooner than we planned and having to get married sooner than we planned."
Barbara laughed. "Martha and I used to joke about how fast you and Rafe got married and how slow Danny and Sandra were about it. But we understood why they went about it the way they did. I guess Dennis and I kind of fell in the middle."
Evelyn felt her face flush. "We were lucky because even though we had to get married we knew we loved each other. If we hadn't had that, I don't know how we would have ended up."
"I've never known two people who were more right for each other than you two." Barbara smiled.
"How about you and Dennis?" She asked. "I've never seen a man who's made you happier and you seem to make him just as happy."
"He needed to be happy Ev. He's been without Laurie for a long time and he really missed having someone special in his life."
Evelyn smiled. "And I'm sure that she's happy that he opened his heart again."
Barbara's face flushed. "I sometimes wonder if he loves me as much as he loved her. And then when I do, I hate myself for wondering about it. When things started to get serious between us Dennis told me that he would never love anyone the way he loved her, but it didn't mean that he would love me any less."
"And he's always been honest with you, hasn't he?"
"That's the thing I love most about him. From the start, he was straightforward with me about everything and he let me know at the time that he wasn't interested in finding someone else."
That got Evelyn to laugh. "That didn't last too long did it?"
Barbara sighed. "And don't think that didn't scare him. He told me when he realized that he was falling in love with me he felt like he was being unfaithful to his wife and it was something he had a hard time dealing with."
Barbara never told her that. "So what did he do?"
"He went home and talked to his folks and Laurie's. He said talking to her parents about me and what was happening with us really eased his mind. He said they were wonderful about it and it was then they told him that they worried that he would spend the rest of his life alone."
"It sounds like he's very close to them."
"He is. The truth is that Laurie was literally the girl next door when they were growing up. She was engaged to an Air Corps flyer before Pearl Harbor when he went overseas. She ended up getting a Dear Jane letter and her parents were furious about it. From what Dennis told me, their parents were long time friends and decided to get Laurie and him together to see what would happen."
"They took to each other right away?" Evelyn asked.
She nodded. "He said she was really cautious at first because she was still in love with her flyer, but she enjoyed his company. It only took a few months to realize that she was the girl for him and before he got assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force he asked her to marry him."
"And she said yes."
Barbara shook her head. "She told him that things were moving a little fast and she wasn't ready."
"So what did he do?"
"He went overseas to Italy. They wrote letters to each other and he didn't mention his proposal again. He got two weeks leave about a year after he arrived and he went home. He was never sure if it was his letters or the fact that he didn't mention her turning him down but the day after he got home she proposed to him. Three days after that they got a marriage license and got married."
She smiled. "And you said Rafe and I moved fast."
"After she died, he said that her proposal and their sudden marriage were the happiest times of his life. He told me if they hadn't gotten married before he went back to Italy her death would have been harder to deal with because he would have always wished they could have had a little time together."
There was a soft knock at the door and Evelyn looked up and saw Sandra standing there. "You two look much too serious on such a happy day." She smiled at them. "The minister sent me back to let you know that everyone is here and that your father is on his way."
"Thanks Sandra." Barbara smiled back and stood up before Evelyn handed her the bridal bouquet.
"You look beautiful Barbara." She said as she hugged the bride. "Dennis is a very lucky man."
"I'm the one who's lucky Sandra." Barbara answered before she looked at Evelyn. "Let's get going Ev. My pop won't wait for long."
"Before your father gets here I think there's someone you'll want to see first." Sandra put a hand on her arm and walked back to the door. She motioned to someone that Evelyn couldn't see and to her utter astonishment Martha was there.
Evelyn knew Martha's absence had been a sore spot during the week and had rubbed raw when she hadn't shown up for the rehearsal dinner. "I'm sorry I wasn't here for dinner last night." Martha apologized to Barbara. "I got bumped from the transport I was booked on because some four-star got my seat. I tried to call you and Ev and Sandra but you must have been at dinner. By the time I got an available seat, I just decided to get here and get to my hotel so I could get ready."
Barbara looked like she was about to cry. "I didn't think you were going to come. Things were so awful when you left in January I didn't know if your would show."
Martha nodded. "I know that and I'm as much to blame as anyone."
It seemed to Evelyn that the two friends needed some time to talk before the wedding, so she picked up her bouquet and a smaller one for Sarah before she and Sandra stepped outside. She closed the door behind her and walked with Sandra down the hallway toward the chapel.
Sarah was standing with Barbara's father and he was making the girl laugh.
"So I see Martha finally got here." He commented.
"Now Barbara can have a truly happy wedding day." Sandra said to him and opened the chapel door enough to slip inside.
Barbara's father looked at his wristwatch. "Well, I'd better go get that gal of mine and get her up the aisle." And he left mother and daughter standing alone.
"I'm certainly glad she got here." Evelyn commented to no one in particular.
"Mama, were they mad at each other?" Sarah asked as she fidgeted with the ribbon on the front of her dress.
Evelyn gently grasped Sarah's hand and pulled it away from the ribbon before she handed the girl a small bouquet.
Sarah flushed with pleasure. "A real bouquet?"
She smiled at her daughter. "A real bouquet. And no, they weren't mad at each other. They just weren't talking things out the way they should have and there were some hurt feelings. But the fact that Martha is here is a very good thing."
"Barbara's coming." Evelyn heard Martha's voice carry down the hall and her eyes were red rimmed.
"Is everything all right?" She asked in concern.
Martha smiled and nodded as she approached the door. "Everything is fine Ev. I'll talk to you after the wedding." She said as she opened the chapel door and went inside.
"Let's get this show on the road Ev. I want to get married." Barbara quipped as she came down the hall on her father's arm. "Besides, Pop's been waiting for a long time to give me away."
Evelyn smiled before she opened the door and signaled to the minister that the bride was ready. As the door closed she heard the organist begin the Wedding March. Before the chapel door was opened from the inside, Evelyn handed her bouquet to Sarah and turned to Barbara to lower the veil over her face. "I hope your married life is as happy as mine has been." And she hugged her nursing school roommate before Sarah handed her bouquet back to her a proceeded her mother up the aisle.
The minister opened his prayer book as Evelyn stood next to Rafe and began a gentle discourse o the challenge of marriage, especially in wartime. He spoke about separation, loss and the blessings of children, which got them to glance at each other briefly and they smiled.
They repeated marriage vows to love, honor and cherish for better or worse until death would they part. They looked at each other again because they understood the gravity of that very possibility.
The minister motioned to Danny and to Barbara to put the wedding rings on his prayer book and he blessed them. He handed the smaller of the rings to Rafe and the minister instructed him to put the ring on her finger.
"With this ring, I thee wed." Rafe said and smiled.
Evelyn could feel tears gather at the corners of her eyes as the minister handed her the second ring and gave same instruction to her.
"With this ring I thee wed." She said and a tear rolled down her cheek. Rafe reached over and gently brushed it away.
She smiled at him as the minister concluded the ceremony. He indicated to Rafe and Evelyn to put their left hands on his prayer book. He covered their hands with his own and said, "For as much as Rafe and Evelyn have made vows to each other before God and this company, I pronounce them man and wife. Captain McCawley, you may kiss your bride."
He had a smile on his face as he glanced at the minister, who nodded. He grasped her shoulders and leaned over to give her a soft kiss. When he leaned back Evelyn's eyes were filled with tears. "Why are you cryin'?"
She laughed softly. "Haven't you heard that women cry at weddings?"
That made him laugh and he kissed her again.
Evelyn followed her daughter up the aisle and saw her young son standing with the groom and his best man at the altar. He looked just like his father and she got a sudden glimpse of what her son might look like on his own wedding day.
She reached the altar and stopped before she turned around.
Everyone in the chapel stood as Barbara started up the aisle and glanced up at her father who squeezed her hand and smiled.
They reached the altar and the minister stepped forward. He smiled at Barbara and Dennis and opened his prayer book. "We are gathered here today to join in marriage, Barbara Anne and Dennis Paul."
As she stood and watched her friend finally marry, Evelyn couldn't help but look to the pew where her husband sat with their youngest son and his best friend, his wife and their family.
Who would have ever guessed when they came to Hawaii in 1941 that they would have ended up the way they did? They began their lives in Paradise as young nurses and Air Corps flyers to become wives, husbands, mothers and fathers.
Life was changing for another one of their friends and Evelyn Johnson McCawley couldn't help but think that as it was for her and for Sandra and their pilots, Barbara would find just as much happiness with a pilot of her own.