Wedding Planning Interrupted



June 19

The days have been filled with the tedium of rubber stamping Alice's decisions and the constant struggle against my delusional belief that I could ever win an argument with a vampire.

A force of nature under any circumstance, Alice has really taken wedding planning to a higher art form. Alice is my maid-zilla of honor—and there is absolutely no way to corral her momentum. She is a wedding machine. Disabused of hope there would be any reason at all that I should be able to participate in the planning of my wedding, I pretend interest nonetheless for Alice's sake…

At least I did win out on the idea that we would not have a big reception, just an intimate gathering of friends and family with simple canapés, champagne, wedding cake, flowers and music. It is not like we have big families that we have to invite…

One of my secret wedding wishes came true when Rosalie accepted my invitation to stand up with me as my sister and bridesmaid. I think she was genuinely surprised that I was so excited and she said she was honored to be asked. One cannot have too many sisters and I hope that Rosalie really understands how very much I would like to be her—and not just for the pictures…but forever.

Though it was a coup d'état, .I did manage to band the cliché "Here Comes the Bride' and "There goes the Bride" which are the traditional processional and recessional music. Apparently, Carlisle considered Wagner a personal friend, which was supposed to clinch my acceptance of these classics tunes. But I won Alice over when I told her that although the Bridal Chorus from Wagner's opera Lohengrin, and the Wedding March from Mendelssohn's ballet Midsummer Night's Dream, were fine pieces of music, but they were stories of fantasy, murder, sex, and other earthly delights that really didn't belong in our lovely, traditional service. It was hypocritical, of course, but she couldn't argue with her own twisted reasoning and so, she let me off the hook.

We going to have traditional Irish folk tunes played on a Celtic harp. Edward is picking them out.

Little did I know these were the very least of my problems.

June 21

"oh skittles! Oh shirt! Oh shot…Oh Snape!" Oh snapping bird Oh sugarflakes Oh hot butter! Aw shit.

Alice hissed as she ran up the stairs and burst into the room long before the receiver reached the handset, and just before the first of many tears fell on what would become the single worst day of Bella's life. As she turned to face the opening door, her eyes burned with a profound sadness which she could barely comprehend.

I didn't have the ability to form the words, but Alice already knew what they would be.

"I thought it was a misunderstanding, you know, a mistake…," Bella said, disintegrating into a thousand pieces and into her big sister's little arms. "…but now I know it is true,…" Like an avalanche they crumpled to the floor, Bella trembling with the shock of the news she had just received. "My mother is not coming to my wedding."

"oh Bella!" In spite of the vision predicting it, Alice was shocked to hear the words.

"I just talked to her…it's true." Bella face was expressionless, frozen in shock as the reality of their conversation just began to settle into her consciousness.

My mother had rejected me and in doing so, she had broken my heart.

"I should have known better, Alice. I should have just sent a card from a chapel in Las Vegas, so then she couldn't do anything, couldn't say anything about it. Maybe if it was impulsive …"

"…or if I was pregnant, then it would have been necessary, and that would have been ok,…

"but this…actually wanting to be happily married and plan a whole life with the man I cannot live without, to my soul mate …well, she just can't handle that …can't handle that I would actually choose to get married at all never mind right after graduation…so she is not going to…"

"Who was I kidding? How could I have ever expected her to approve—I didn't think she'd like it, but I never dreamed…"

"… she wouldn't be at my side…I never considered she would do this…to me."

Bella collapsed completely, wailing in her pain, keening with the heavy burden of such unexpected grief. The piercing sounds of her distress alarmed Esme and Rosalie who, followed by Emmett and Jasper, came running into Edward's room, convinced that Bella must have done some grave physical harm to herself. But as they drew closer to the room, Jasper could tell the cries were clearly of a pain much deeper than an gash or broken bone and more potent than any concussive force, yet they still felt deeply anxious and their protection instinct where all things Bella are concerned took over. Virtually in unison, they bounded up the staircase and burst into the room, to find Bella sobbing incoherently with no outward sign of injury and Alice kneeling frozen at her feet.

Emmett was the first on the scene. No one of the Cullen's was more fiercely protective of his fragile little human sister than he. Training as an EMT never really left the consciousness of anyone who had served others in emergency circumstances, and under the stress of a family member's suffering such memory propelled him into action.

"Talk to me Bella…" he said with authority. His was not as sophisticated as Carlisle's bedside manner but it was highly effective. Gathering her up from the floor in his burly arms, he laid her gently on the leather chaise, all the while observing each possible sign of trauma, monitoring her vital signs.

Jasper's face reflected Bella's pain, as he registered the sensations of her emotional state and attempted to inform his brother that what Bella suffered was not a medical emergency.

"Emmet, I think…it is a broken heart that cries so fiercely…."

Emmett's concern for his baby sister was extraordinarily tender considering how he enjoyed teasing her to utter distraction. This was different—no one was allowed to make her this upset--not even him. Bella could not speak for the trembling and her wild eyes of panic and fear terrified the Cullen's into an eerie collective silence. Emmet persisted with questioning her knowing that the phone would ring any moment and they needed to have answers. Her tiny face fit in his palm and he was mystified watching her eyes well, spill, and roll with hot salty years. He brushed them away, but they kept coming and coming, an endless flood, a deluge.

"Tell me what's wrong, Bella? Come on, now, kid…have you been hurt?"

Have you been hurt?

The words echoed in her imagination, until Bella's head snapped to attention, her tears silenced instantly with a blank stare of recognition.

The abrupt cessation of her tears was more terrifying than they could have imagined. They had not witnessed Bella's breakdown when they suddenly departed Forks on Edward's insistence that he was bad for Bella, but Alice had shared as best he could what information she had gleaned from Charlie about the elements of Bella's subsequent clinical depression and lasting psychological distress. They feared for her reason. Clearly, this shock must be caused by a single instance, an event, and her reaction to whatever has happened initially, but everyone feared the possibility that her emotions could get the better of her. Once a loved one has experienced a breakdown, family feared the hurricane at the slightest hint of rain.

...have you been...?

"Bella?" Emmett's question tried to penetrate beyond her mask, but she was hidden from him—as if she wasn't present. He rolled her face between his palm without any resistance, massaging her cheeks to illicit a response. It was as if she…"Bella!" His fear fueled his demand for her attention, "Bella, snap out of this. Bella!"

...have you…?

I remember those words, echoes of a grief long forgotten harkening to a time wet with the soaking moss of the cold forest floor where the broken one was found, rescued and delivered by the strong arms of a stranger.

Yes, I have been hurt….I was lost…in the woods…and it was wet and cold and he found me.

"But she was fine this morning…" Rosalie was more surprised than she expected to see what a change there was in Bella and horrified to think that a human could be so tortured by her feelings alone. No one held her down. No one forced violence upon her, yet, Bella was tortured in her head…by her emotion.

Emmett began to struggle with a feeling building in him that could only be called rage, with a heated restraint he growled, "Alice, Where is Edward?" His raw emotion and the possibility of disaster created an electric charge in the air as the unbearable thought raced through their minds until Alice diverted their anger as she whispered the words she dared not to speak.

"Edward? No, no…it's Renee…she's not coming to the wedding."

The audible gasp from the breathless creatures was entirely involuntary and highly appropriate. Relieved as they were to know that Edward was not the cause of Bella's suffering, the idea that her mother was the problem offered no solace. It only brought more confusion to an already chaotic situation. They were shocked at the news.

"How can this be?" Esme hissed as all her motherly instincts ignited in outrage. "Oh, my poor, sweet Bella," she cooed piteously, heart broken for the only daughter she would have whose heart could be so easily broken.

Alice's cell phone sprang to life almost immediately. Edward's attention was never far from Alice's mind: she was his radar when he was away from Bella. They perceived the cascade of fear and raw emotion that erupted in the house. Esme answered, quietly murmuring the details of the scene as she understood it. Emmett relayed to Carlisle her stable but shocky vital signs and he sent Rose for a blanket; his cold hands weren't helping her trembling. Jasper infused the scene with every iota of peace he could manufacture.

Alice retrieved the crumpled letter that lay by the phone and as she began reading it, the contents were instantly transmitted telepathically to Edward.

Dear Bella,

Please forgive me for writing to you like this, but I see no alternative. We are traveling so much with Phil and the time zones are making me crazy... I can't figure out when to call...and you are never home anymore, it seems and I didn't want to wait another day.

I have to just say it quickly or I am afraid I won't be able to do it at all so forgive me for being if it sounds cold or abrupt. I don't mean it that way.

I don't want to upset you, but I know that I will, and I hate that you will be upset, but the bottom line is it is out of my hands.

I cannot come to your wedding. I am so sorry. I just can't. I know you are disappointed but the circumstances are much more complicated than they might seem. I hope someday you will understand and forgive me.

You know that I love you and you know I only want the best for you. I have to be honest with you: I have struggled for my entire adult life to make a better start for you…so I have to say that I cannot help but feel you are making a huge mistake.

I know you will be happy with Edward, and I hope you have a good life together, and I am sorry I can't share in the celebration.

Please call me when you can. I love you, Mom

Alice's composure turned to fury as the details of the exchange between mother and daughter fell into play.

"What did she say to you Bella, please, tell me, exactly." She demanded an answer from Bella's lifeless frame, but no one expected her to actually respond.

"She said she couldn't come, Alice!" Bella screamed in agony. "What else is there to say?"

Bella's tears were overwhelming and her cries were heartbreaking. None had seen such a display of human emotion from her. Her grief scared them with its passion. But they were happy to see that she was responsive once again. The silence of her blank stare terrified this family of vampires to the core of their being.

"Nothing makes sense, Edward. There has got to be an explanation and we have to find out what it is?" she demanded it more of herself than of him. "…the circumstances are more complicated than they might seem… what does that mean?" Alice was activated by her anger and she set out immediately to vision an answer to explain Renee's bizarre behavior that threatened to destroy her daughter's joy at her wedding. "what could be so important as to keep her away?" She was determined to find out.

Although his voice was tiny and far away, leaking from the receiver, I could tell he was a jumble of emotion: upset, worried, angry and sad. He felt guilty somehow that he was responsible for my mother's decision to stay away and he once again was the source of my pain.

"Perhaps we should call Charlie? What do you think?" Esme cooed softly, perched against the arm of the chaise, smoothing Bella's hair as she whispered, thinking she could not hear. "Surely he would want to know… as soon as possible about this…situation." Esme squeezed Bella tight wishing she could protect her sweet charge, but knowing the sad truth in her heart, as all mother's do, she could not shield Bella from grief.

"No, don't, don't you dare!!" Bella wailed in protest, sitting straight up in a demonstration of her diminished self control, brushing away tears with vehemence. "Please, don't put this on Charlie…it couldn't be fair to him…this is my mom and me…it's my problem, not his." Strength and conviction tried to surface in between her sniffles, but the Cullen's knew her too well for the charade to be accepted as truth. She could be brave, but she was hurting and deeply shaken.

"No, darling, you are wrong." Esme said lovingly, pulling her into her lap, holding Bella's tear stained face to her abdomen, patting her back like a distressed infant, "it is everyone's problem dear and we will all try to make things right, you see. We all care about you and Renee too much to let this just happen without figuring out why? Don't worry, my darling…everything will turn out fine. Maybe she just needs some time…"

Time was not an abundant commodity—the wedding was only a month away and the mother of the bride responded in writing she will not attend was not something easily dismissed or altered.

At the same time that she comforted Bella, Esme continued to comfort her son still hanging on by a thread of reason on the phone, "Yes, Edward," she said with a smile, looking down at Bella with a radiant warmth, an expression of perfect love and understanding. She looked down to meet Bella's swollen mottled face as she mouthed the words, "do you want to talk to him?" Esme hoped he could help soothe her agitation.

Overcome with a new wave of emotion, fear and sublime sadness at the thought of Edward's reaction to this news, Bella tears resurged, and she could not speak, waved her hands, unable to face the sound of his voice, trying to be brave, trying to mask the unnecessary guilt he no doubt would feel at her devastation and suffering. "I am not sure she is up to that, my dear, but don't worry…." Esme pursed her lips in acknowledgement, knowing that there are a time when talking doesn't salve wounds. Kissing Bella on the head and she squeezed her shoulders in agreement: there was no need to talk anymore now.

"Don't worry, Edward, we will take good care…and I will certainly tell her that, Edward," she said courteously.

Bella waved her arms again, begging for Esme's attention. Struggling to shake off the tears, thinking better of her decision, Bella begged for the phone. The agony he would feel being left out of this moment was worse than saying the words. He needed to be the voice she heard. Esme looked again, and smiled at her sweet little girl making such a grown up decision.

"Edward, just a moment," her smile warmed the chill away with her loving care. "….here's Bella."

Esme sat down, smoothing Bella's ruffled hair as if the gesture could soothe her ruffled emotions. It did of course. Bella held her breath a moment, swallowing the erratic twitches of sob and sniffles that jerked her body involuntarily.

"Hello, Edward," she sighed, after a moment of silence that seem too very long.

Her voice was small and child like. Her heart raced and her breath was uneven. She was heartbroken and confused, awash in grief. Careful to observe every detail he could take from Alice's projection and eager to reach out to his darling, cursing absence from her, he said the only thing he could think of to salve her pain.

"I love you, Bella."

She smiled at the sound and tears pooled on her lashes. She didn't want to hear about apologies and sympathy. All that mattered, all she needed was to know that as she faced the rejection of her mother, and she was loved by her family— most of all by him.

"It been a bad day, honey, a really bad one," she said bravely, but a shaking quiver belied her state; she wasn't going to fool anyone, least of all him, but she could manage a shred of dignity. "Edward, can you home now? I need you here." Tears ran silently down well-worn tracks in her cheeks, but her voice did not break as her breath was even and calm. She looked to Jasper across the room with an upturned if weak smile of gratitude.

His is a very handy talent, indeed.

Edward swallowed the venom he felt rising in anger over this insult to his sweet Bella. Through the clarity of Alice's sight, he'd seen every tear, heard every wail, and experienced the fear in his sibling's eyes. Stoically, he supplied the words she needed more than any other.

"I will be there very soon, and Bella, I will never leave you."

Bella nodded without making a sound and without thinking how he would receive her response. She handed the silver phone back to Esme and slid back to comfort her hot cheek against the cool smooth leather.

"You see...she is much better now." Esme said, reassuring him again. "Take your time. Be safe. Everything is well in hand." She closed the phone with a quiet click.

Esme had been more than a mother to me this past year, she was becoming a confident and a friend.

But she was not the only one endeavoring to become closer to me.

Just as the phone call ended, the doors swung open. Rosalie brought in a tray with some chocolate milk and warm toll-house cookies. She looked at Bella with a hopeful face, wishing she could entice her to take one. She lay the tray on the floor near the chaise, murmuring low under her breath, "mmmm, chocolate... you know you want it...mmmm...smells so tempting..."

Rose actually choose a cookie and played with it, admiring the crevices with so much interest one looking in on the scene would have thought she was preparing to take a bite. But Bella didn't budge. In a desperate measure to secure the reaction she sought, Rose lay down on the carpeting, and she playfully pushed the tray closer, inched it closer and closer to Bella's face but she would not let Bella see her do it. Every time Bella thought she'd caught her in the act of moving the tray, Rose looked away innocently. It was a delightful game. In a matter of minutes, Bella was giggling from the effort of trying to catch a vampire in a speed trap, the tray of treats was directly irresistibly right under her nose, and Rose was entirely pleased with herself.

Bella stared incredulously at the blonde goddess who until recently would not offer her the time of day, never mind deliver human comfort food delicacies on a tray and beg like a puppy for attention. She was very moved by her new sister's kindness; she smiled weakly, forced herself to sit up, and managed to say, "Thank you, Rose."

Rose smiled broadly, both from her reception and her success. Theatrically, she produced a wild looking twisted straw from out of thin air, like a magician. Bella's eyes sparkled for a moment and in a spontaneous reflex of childlike glee, she clapped her hands to her chest. "Rose! You remembered my crazy straw, too?" Acting quickly before Bella's smile slipped away, Rose planted the straw, delivered the glass, and patted her gently on the leg. Bella nibbled happily at the cookie and enjoyed the milk whizzing through the plastic loops, as Rose studied her carefully for the least sign of relapse. It was an unexpected and very human gesture that did not go unnoticed by Bella or the siblings.

This quiet moment was broken into self consciousness as Rose became aware of the others in the room. Their open-mouthed staring was unsettling to Rose who spat at them with annoyance but low enough that Bella was not disturbed, "What are you looking at? She accused them snidely, "I just thoughtMaybe she needed… some sugarto perk her up… what?"

Esme was the first to speak up, but not loud enough to reach Bella's hearing, "It was a beautiful thing you did, Rose."

"Yeah, Rose, really…" Emmett was surprised most of all, not because she cared for Bella, but he knew how hard it was for her to show that emotion.

"Oh, shut up…it's not that big of a deal." She was gruff, trying to hide her self consciousness.

The deep desire to help her little sister, Rose took charge. Convinced that it was woman's work to put the pieces back together of this broken bridal dream, she shooed the men from the room. Jasper could work his magic at a distance, but the real problem that had to be dealt with up close and personal was women's work. Mother's and daughters…was too complicated a subject to be explored otherwise. Men were unceremoniously uninvited.

Jasper knew he would feel connected no matter where he was in the house, the emotional energy emanating from the room was overpowering, so he seemed slightly relieved to leave but Emmett was visibly irritated to be banished. In spite of all his merciless teasing, Emmett deeply loved Bella and felt it his duty to care for her, especially when Edward was away. His heart told him that perhaps it was best that he leave het to the women, that maybe she needed to be surrounded and protected only by the love that the women could give...but he didn't like it. "Bella," Emmett said landing a heavy paw on her shoulder, "...just say my name...ok...you don't even have to scream, ok...and I am on it, you hear?" He screwed his face up and pointed his finger sharply, but then flashed that broad charming Cullen smile and she knew he was her protector too. He tussled her hair much more gently than usual and in a flash the big brother that she never had was gone.

"I love you, Emmett," she whispered, the she smiled broadly when he bellowed back from down the stairs, "You'd BETTER!"

The respite brought by chocolate and giggles was delicious and fleeting. In the silence that enveloped the women in the moments that followed, Bella sunk once again into the reality of her turmoil. But she wasn't alone. She was surrounded by all the women who loved her...save one. And yet she was completely lost in her grief for the one. She sighed heavily, her chest bearing a weight greater than her pain, greater because it was fresh. Unfortunately, she knew that in loss the burden grew more intense before it got better. Tears grew anew and rolled over her lashes without effort to suppress them or to fight to hide them. They just were.

Esme's maternal instincts and nurturing care focused her energies entirely on the need to help Bella understand this terrible disappointment. She knew it was not only the fact that Renee would not be here that disturbed Bella. It was much deeper than that.

"This is a terrible shock, I know my dear…in time we can think about what it all means. But for now it is just hurting, isn't it?" Esme said, joining her on the chaise, laying her hand on her flank, requesting entry into her private shell. Bella climbed up into Esme's arms, wrapping herself around her like a worn sweater.

It was comforting being held by her. Although they had never been this physically close before, it was as if they had always been this intimate. "Bella, your mother loves you very much, and in the best way she knows how…" Bella snuggled against Esme; she was soft and warm even though she was hard and cold. "Renee loves you in her own way, dear. That's all any person can do, you know?"

Rocking her as a baby Esme felt closer to this grown baby than she could have dreamed possible. Inhaling her scent she smiled thinking of Edward and his happiness. "She loves you, even if it is not the way you want to be loved by her." Bella listened carefully, calm and quieted by the lulling sound of her musical voice. "She wants what she thinks is best for you—she always has. You can see that can't you, my dear?"

Bella contemplated the idea that this bitter disappointment in maternal love could be all she could hope for. She knew all her life, as she was increasingly called upon to mother her mother that Renee could only give what she had to give, and Bella grew up more independent and capable because of it. Should it be a surprise that she would need to assert that independence now, and she would find herself looking for her mother's approval just as she was becoming a woman?

She was calm now, thinking outside of her pain. "Her approval is one thing, Esme, I never thought she would approve of me getting married at all, never mind right now," she marched slowly through the mine field of her emotions, "but I did expect her support…of my life choices. I thought that was separate, unconditional. I feel so rejected."

"Think about it from her perspective, dear," Esme's softness seemed perfectly natural, "maybe, she is afraid you are making the same choices that she made and that scares her because she wanted you to be anything else but like her. Maybe, somehow she thought you to be better than she is…"

A terrifying thought raced through Bella's mind: "…was she ashamed of herself because she got married so young and then getting pregnant sealed her fate…did I ruin my mother's life?"

"Sometimes when people we love disappoint us you have to remind yourself, they can only give what they have got to offer—may Renee needs to find something in herself. In her letter she said she had struggled to keep you from making the same choice she did…she had big dreams for you that she never had for herself, college, maybe a big career and she's afraid this decision to get married so young will keep you from those things."

I knew that Renee never saw herself as a career woman, but I did grow up thinking I would be one. How much trouble did I have at first accepting Edward's proposal…isn't it logical that she would have trouble accepting it too?

" …maybe she feels it is a personal failure that you have done that very thing…?"

I was beginning to believe that Jasper had been rubbing off some of this talent on Esme.

"Give her some time, I bet you she will reconsider."

Esme pulled me close to sit with her till I was practically encased in her lap, cradling me in her arms pushed me closer and closer to understanding the core issue I was struggling with: it was not so much my mother's rejection of me but my own fears about it.

For some strange reason, I needed Renee's permission to live my life as an adult. I wanted to be an adult, was making adult decisions, but I wanted my mom to…help me… and I never realized that before now and it was too late because she decided long ago I didn't need her anymore.

"There comes a time when everyone must venture out on their own, Bella and it seems to be that you began that process long ago when you decided to leave your life in Arizona. You did a dramatic thing, deciding to leave so your mother could pursue her new life with her new husband. Tell me, this…did you just decide that yourself? Or did you ask her?"

Thinking back, I realized I never really asked Renee what she wanted; I just told her I was leaving.

"I am sure that was a very difficult time for both of you…maybe more than you both realized…"

"Well, not that you mention it, Esme…it seemed the most natural thing in the world…we never argued or fought about it at all. I thought she was relieved, really. She would worry about me not liking the weather, of leaving my friends, of missing her, but…she never really asked me not to go…"

'Maybe that was because she felt a little guilty…that you were giving her something she wanted and needed and didn't know how to ask for." Esme shrugged her close and murmured, "darling, it was very thoughtful, full of thought, I mean, such a loving, and grown-up decision you made, a gift you gave to your mother, one that she embraced and appreciated—the opportunity to start her new life, make herself happy in her new marriage. But maybe, deep down,…perhaps your mother felt funny, maybe she just could not understand why you left her…maybe, in marrying Phil, she thought you felt a little abandoned and by moving out, you wanted to get away from her."

How must that have broken her heart—even if she didn't show it? I left her to go to Charlie. I didn't mean to but I rejected her, didn't I?

"…and now that you have really shown yourself to be an adult, a young woman ready for marriage… maybe she thinks you don't need her anymore, and her opinion doesn't count as much."

My heart stopped for a moment as I contemplated the idea that my mother would feel cut out from my life. I had cut her out. I didn't mean it.

"And whatever circumstance that would keep her from being here for you…well, maybe she thinks it won't matter too much to you or she's embarrassed or afraid to tell you the truth…"

Esme's questions seemed more and more reasonable explanations for why Renee would not come. "It might be something very strong that has nothing to do with you at all…it is possible, isn't it?" her mind shifted gears, looking for alternatives; she searched with curiosity all the possibilities, "…could there be another reason, perhaps…that might keep her from coming…maybe something with Phil? Or Charlie? Could it be it is too painful to return to Forks, to relive all that happened to her here…when she got married so young?"

I could see all Esme's points…there could be lots of reasons for Renee's absence.

"I guess you are right, Esme. But it still doesn't make any sense." The force of tears created by such pain could not be held back. "Why would she do this to me, Esme? For my wedding? What am I going to tell my friends?. How is Edward going to feel when people start whispering that the mother of the bride is a no-show?...and how can I face Charlie?"

The carefully build walls of reason and logic were falling to the power of a torrent of tears.

"Oh, my Bella," she said, holding her gently in a strong embrace. For a few moments, they were silent, only the sound of tears and broken breath could be heard, until losing energy, the tingling of over crying and hyperventilation set a calm peace over Bella.

Jasper, no doubt, had some hand in this…thank you Jasper.

As the storm passed, Esme gently offered a conclusion to help move Bella forward out of this broken state and into action. "It doesn't make any sense, I know…but you have to remember one thing, Bella." she lifted her chin to see her eyes, "This is Renee's choice. You can't change anything except your own behavior…Lets' see what happens, hmmm?…there is still plenty of time…and she is only a plane ride away—I'll even fly down there myself and get her!"

"I didn't know you could fly, Esme?" Bella asked in wonderment.

"Well, no dear. I actually can't fly…, but I can pilot aGulfstream …"Bella chuckled with the vision of Esme busting into Renee's house to kidnap her for the ceremony.

Esme smiled, but her face took on a more serious expression as she gave Bella's chin a specific squeeze, her thumb and forefinger gripping lightly, shaking gently as if for emphasis. "but… if she doesn't change her mind, well then, you have a choice to make, my dear…you can choose to grieve that it is not possible for you to have her understanding and approval." The alternative offered a brighter smile, "Or, you can rejoice in the idea that you have made a wise adult decision, a choice that makes you happy, and it will give you the life you want for yourself. You can hope that one day she may see the glorious and awesome woman you have become and she will want to be a part of your life, …as an equal."

My heart was bursting with love for my Esme, my other mother, and my dear friend.

"In the end, how you feel about this…is entirely your choice, Bella.'

Alice was curled up in the corner, very quiet and removed from the conversation. She was rocking gently back and forth in her trance searching for Renee's thoughts in the ether of her foresight when suddenly her eyes widened, obvious with realization, in an expression that we had come to recognize as the sign that she had a vision. A blank expression spread over her face and she blinked her eyes repeatedly as if she could not believe what she saw. It was a look of astonishment that seemed out of place because she was not often surprised: it was very hard to surprise a psychic.

"What is going on, Alice? What do you see?" Bella demanded immediately, unfairly pushing for an instant answer before Alice was released from her altered state. She was frantic for any explanation to gain a measure of relief from this tortured state and to gain insight to her mother's decision.

So enraptured in her expectation of Alice's response, Bella didn't notice how Esme and Rose were distracted and their faces expressed a wide-eyed incredulity as they stared into Alice's' unspoken message

"Tell me, whatever it is, I don't care how bad, please!" she insisted.

A long moment of silence separated Bella's demand from the news. Alice seemed to be stunned by what she saw, but was reluctant to tell Bella directly the contents of the message. Bella, desperate for any information hardly noticed any disconnection between what Alice told her and the severity of the response of her vision.

"It's ok, everything is going to be ok, Bella. It's complicated for sure, but..." Alice said with growing confidence that seemed to surprise her, "Renee will absolutely be here, Bella, I am sure of it."

Alice's voice was small and far away with wonder at what she had seen.

"It is not only about you and Edward." She offered to Bella's great relief, "she's not thrilled about you being so young, that is understandable, but the situation for her is all very strange and complicated right now, but it is certain, she will be here; don't worry about that. She doesn't know it yet, but it is all going to work out…just fine."

"Tell me! Alice!! What is it? What is really going on with my mother?" Bella's instinct was to protect Renee, especially in light of the thoughts about abandonment; she was wild with the need to know.

"I can't do that." Alice said plainly. "I am sorry, Bella. She has to tell you…but first she has to figure something out for herself. She doesn't exactly understand what is happening to her, she's frightened; but she will understand soon, and then she will be able to change her mind about the wedding, you'll see."

Bella's email


Dear mom…

I am sorry that we can't seem to connect on the phone because I really want to talk to you, but maybe it is for the best, because I know I would just be a blubbering mess.

I am worried about you and I want to know what is going on. I would rather just get it out in the open than live in fear not knowing.

I am worried that whatever it is that is the trouble will stand in the way of our relationship.

I have tried to make good decisions for my life. I have a plan. I would like to share that plan with you before you make judgments about how worthy it is or not.

Maybe that is not possible right now, but I hope you change your mind in the future so we can share this exciting time in my life.

I miss you, mom. But I will miss you more on my wedding day that I can ever bear to think about. I need you, I hope you know that…not just for the silly getting-ready-stuff, I need you because you are a part of me.

I understand that you are going through something; I know it must be a hard thing. I want to help you.

Yet, I know I am being pretty selfish in saying it, and I am not trying to hurt you but it is how I feel: I don't just want you to be at the wedding. I need you to be there. Please come. Whatever it is… we can work it out together. Nothing is impossible, right?