I honestly don’t know where to begin with this post.
So we’ll start at the beginning.
After graduating college my younger brother was hired as a pilot with Indy Jet in Indianapolis. At the time, we all saw it as a job. We knew it was an important job, one that would build his hours as a pilot and allow him to continue on in his career. What we didn’t know was the incredible ways this job–and the man who hired him–would influence his life, and as a result, the lives of all of us connected to him.
As Conner’s time with the company continued, a bond began to develop between him a Brad. I remember my brother calling me to tell me about time in the air he had spent with Brad, about the profound esteem he had for Brad not just as a pilot, but owner of a company and–as he was discovering–a person. And the longer Conner knew Brad, the more that grew. As Conner does in every situation he’s put in, he excelled. He studied hard and worked hard, yet the more he got to know Brad the more that work became not only an extension of who my brother was at his core, but equally an act of respect for who he was discovering Brad to be. And so a mutual friendship grew.
Brad looked out for Conner. He took time to see where Conner was and anticipated what he might need next in his career. He helped him master the skills already innate inside him and supported him as refined those skills. And so, one person from our family’s life–Conner–was being influenced and altered because of Brad. And then my parents met him.
I remember this night too. My parents were flying into Indianapolis to visit my brother and Brad had invited them to join him and his (then girlfriend, Kim) for a night out on the town. As I talked to my mom the next day she relived stories of the night before. It was then I heard about Kim. About her sweet spirit and down to earth personality. Her easy going nature and the effortless way she carried on conversation. A perfect match for Brad my mom said! And like that, two more lives from our family was touched because of Brad and Kim…
As Conner’s years at Indy Jet came to a close, my parents looked back and saw the invaluable ways that he was influenced, watched over and cared for. They knew they wanted to do something special for them, so after hearing of Brad and Kim’s engagement, my parents decided to thank them by gifting a photo session. And so….unbeknownst to me at the time, my life was about to be affected as well.
The air in Naples, Florida on April 22nd carried with it the scent of salt and the weight of rain. Deep blue clouds formed, but in a hotel on the beach–twenty closest friends and family formed as well. A pearl white, knit, knee length dress hugged her slender frame perfectly. Her hair was swept up, tiny pearls twisted here and there and just so–accenting her dark hair. Her lips were painted matted fuchsia, her feet bare except for the strand of white beads wrapped around her ankles and toes. Simple, she called it. Stunning, everyone else said. His shirt white linen, buttoned down and sleeves rolled up. Kakki shorts and a tender smile reflected in his kind eyes because of her. The best day of his life.
Rain did come. It fell. No, it poured. It emptied the clouds and spilled all over the beach. But even this didn’t phase them. Instead they opened the doors of the room that sheltered them and celebrated with cocktails and with friends. This moment, this day they had waited for wouldn’t be spoiled. And then the sound of rain slowed, then spattered, then left. It cooled off the warm sand and dropped the climate to the perfect temperature. The air was fresh. New. Like the life together before them. The sand raked down and the isle lined with corral orange starfish. The waves soft in the background, a stray bird flew in the scene once or twice. Even he wanted to be a part of this moment. With her daughters on either side and arms linked, they walked down the isle–between white chairs full of eager family, full of sweet tears. He waited for her at the end with an expression no words could accurately describe. This his wife. He her husband.
There they made their vows. There they committed their lives to one another.
And somewhere in the background was a photographer who came expecting to be a gift to them.
But instead left knowing she, in fact, was the one given a gift that day.