October 25, 2010

wedding nostalgia

I've got to wait for some laundry to finish washing before bed, so I thought I'd reminisce a little about the recent wedding we attended.

My brother-in-law's wedding was the first family wedding I attended, and the rush of emotions left me thoughtful for many days afterward. I saw my father-in-law's pride in his son's marriage, the little disappointments that ruffle every family event, my mother-in-law's misty eyed pleasure as she watched her youngest son make that most grown up of commitments, and through it all ran the memory of my own wedding. I'm not terribly photogenic. My mom wasn't there with me. The family fighting in my corner was one I'd met comparatively recently. I had one of my dearest friend's there with me that day, but she was as confused as I was about the various events that had brought me to the bride's room without mother or sisters. But through it all I appreciated getting to see how very much my in-laws love their sons and how glad they are to have daughters come into their family. In an odd sort of way they reaffirmed my position as first born - first daughter both to my parents and to them. They are parents to me. They may drive me crazy sometimes, but they stick by me too and are always looking for my best.

Seeing so many lovely weddings it's easy for me to regret all the things my wedding wasn't. I was tired, stressed, nervous, and largely alone. But I'm not alone any longer. Not only do I have Allen, I have a whole new family. If the memories of my wedding elude me (surely I felt something walking up the aisle, but I sure can't remember), I have crisply etched memories of early morning walks in Yosemite, gingerbread cookies on Christmas Eve, nights curled up together, and miles together in the car. I have a whole scrapbook in my head made possible by one faltering step after another towards an altar some four years ago. My impatient, sinful self wants to pout and pine that my pictures will never be as good as someone else's or that my memories can never be as joyful or complete as some other bride's. I want to complain that the world (and God) shorted me on the rarest and most special of days in a woman's life. Sometimes I do. But what happened that day? A whole bunch of people who didn't have to rallied around me to try and make up what was lacking. I married a man who has proven to be a far, far better husband than I ever dreamed possible. I discovered a family that drives me crazy and yet prays for me far more often and earnestly than I pray for myself.

So I sat in the pew beside my parents-in-law and watched a lovely woman walk up and join herself to this family of which I am a part. Ok, so a line or two in the wedding vows made me cringe. I don't like modern language and phraseology in our sacred ceremonies. But I watched. Where Allen and I were they are now; where they will go Allen and I have been, and my father and mother in law are there watching both couples slowly go over ground they first encountered years and years ago. We watch and pray knowing that we can't help each other very much, perhaps wishing we could recapture some essence of early marriage, and finally relapsing back into the realization that maturity is the dearest gift.

They have plighted themselves one to another and are now a new entity who may or may not open their Christmas presents in the traditional family living room with the rest of us. I wish them the very best in their new life, and I'm appreciative of this chance to look back again at my marriage - to see the good and the bad- and above all to be grateful for the gift that marriage has been to me.

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