Participatory Journalism:
Apple Blossoms, Orchestras, and Stars

by Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard

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    Somehow I had always imagined that the night before my wedding day would be spent sitting out under a star-filled sky with my “intended” sharing a private, quiet, romantic moment. Apple blossoms would be floating in a cool evening breeze, and an orchestra would be playing romantic melodies magically in the distance.

    But things just weren’t working out the way I had planned. My “intended” was miles away getting a good night’s sleep before our bright and early 8:00 A.M. wedding in the Salt Lake Temple the next morning.

    It was getting pretty late, and I still hadn’t been able to get anything ready. I hadn’t even been able to get into the bathroom yet. The hot water had run out long ago. The hot water always runs out after my sister Linda takes her 45-minute shower.

    Mom and dad were on the phone calling all the people we had forgotten to invite to the reception. I couldn’t even get into my bedroom to get packed. One of my married sisters and her husband and children were camping out in my bedroom for the night.

    I walked downstairs to try to find someplace where I could be alone. After all, I was getting married in the morning. I had a lot to think about. I walked into the family room, but my sister Joy was still there working on the last of the 14 bridesmaid dresses. I hadn’t asked a lot of friends to be bridesmaids. We just had 14 sisters in our two families.

    Suddenly I heard the water from the upstairs bathroom turn off. I dashed up the stairs and down the hall to be sure to get into the bathroom before anybody else. Just as I reached the door, my sister Diane slipped in front of me. She turned and smiled as she closed the bathroom door behind her.

    When I turned around to walk back down the hall, Dawnene, another sister, drooped by me dragging her sleeping bag. She was obviously mad.

    “Lisa and Lori won’t quit playing around so I can get some sleep,” she pouted. “Mary and Sandy are in my room. So where am I supposed to sleep?”

    “Try the backyard,” I answered.

    “That’s where Lisa and Lori are,” Dawnene frowned.

    “Well, try the front yard,” I said again.

    “Grant’s out there!” she answered. “He said if one more person steps on him, they’ll be sorry.”

    “What about the kitchen?” I asked.

    “Aunt Sara said it’s already too crowded in there!”

    “Well, you’ll just have to figure it out for yourself,” I answered as I walked back down the hall stepping on suitcases and bodies.

    Finally I walked out onto the balcony. Lisa and Lori were laughing and throwing pillows at each other in the backyard. When they saw me on the balcony, they stopped and ran over to me. “Come sleep with us,” they coaxed.

    “I’ve got to get married in the morning, and I have a lot to do to get ready,” I answered.

    “Come on!” they continued to coax.

    “Well I can’t get into the shower anyway,” I thought as I climbed over the balcony and slid down a pole into the backyard.

    Lisa and Lori, the twins, were the youngest in the family.

    “We’ve already got you a sleeping bag,” they said.

    I crawled into the sleeping bag between them just as Lori threw a pillow into my face. Laughing, I rolled over and tickled them both until we all fell back laughing and exhausted.

    I suddenly noticed what a beautiful night it was. The lights from the house slowly went out one by one, and it grew quiet. The warm June evening air and the black sky hanging low with stars seemed to peacefully surround us.

    When I looked at Lisa and Lori, they were crying. All of our years together started to flood back into my mind. I remembered how soft and warm their small infant bodies felt as I rocked them to sleep when they were babies. I remembered the night Lori had screamed all night as her leg swelled in her cast. I remembered the day Lisa got the rubber plug stuck in her nose. I remembered our private funeral on the grassy bank by the canal after our cat had died. I remembered it all as I put my arms around them.

    There were no apple blossoms or orchestras playing magically in the distance that night. But the sky was filled with stars that illuminated the silhouette of us three huddled together in the cool evening breeze.

    Illustrated by Sharon Seegmiller