Saturday was full of every emotion in the book: love, pride, sadness, joy, anger, and so much more. It was a wedding, after all, what did I expect? I sat in the reception hall and watched the bride dance, first with her husband, the two of them so obviously in love. The second dance was with her dad, and I cried, wishing for the hundredth time that my friend could have been there to see her daughter get married.
But life, and death, don’t always work out like we would like. So last Wednesday, I got in my van, surrounded Emily with toys and books, and began the long car trip to Phoenix, hoping to be there for a friend, as she had been there for me when I needed her the most.
A few weeks ago, I had been talking to Casey, who is also my eldest daughter Danielle’s best friend, and as we had said our goodbyes I told her I loved her. “Who were you talking to?” Emily asked.
“I was talking to Casey, Sister’s friend.” I replied.
“You said you loved her.”
“Well I do.” I went on to explain that Casey’s mommy had died, and that she was getting married, and she needed a mommy figure, that she missed her mommy, and that maybe I could fill in, just a little bit for what she had lost.
Emily thought about this for a moment. “Ohhhh-kayyy, so you have three daughters now?”
I laughed a little, and then considered it myself, “Yeah, I guess I do.”
I remembered this as I sat in the reception hall, watched Casey dance, and cry, in her dad’s arms. I saw for a moment, Casey’s daughter, just two years old, some day in the future with her own dress and special dance, and the lives of so many, intersecting, weaving, loving and laughing and crying, just as we were.
I saw the lines of the future and the past and the present, inextricably linked – by hope, faith, love, and so much more. It was a reminder of how important these rites of passage can be. That the daughter you sit down with and show how to shave for the first time will make way to the beautiful woman embarking on a journey of marriage and children. That it perpetuates itself in time-
honored traditions – whether they are bat mitzvahs, quinceanaras, bachelorette parties, or flinging graduation caps into the air.
This is life. All of its beauty, its sadness for those who have left us, and its endless cycles.
Casey got to be a princess for a day. I got to play mom and friend and stand-in, all rolled into one. Danielle got to play maid of honor, Emily got to dance – and we got the chance to see that love comes to us all. It helps make the world a better place when there is someone close by our side who loves us for who we are.
It reminds me of a Laurie Berkner Band song…
You’re not perfect
No, you’re not
You’re not perfect
But you’ve got what you’ve got
And you know I love you that way!
By the end of the night, I felt I had been given a gift. A beautiful, shiny, wonderful gift. I was invited to share in the joy and love and commitment – the marriage of two wonderful people. I shed quite a few tears, as did many others. And that is life, with all of its hiccups and inconsistencies. I cried, tears of joy for the bride and ones of sadness for the friend I had lost, and was reminded to dance a little each day.
Oh Nina, how I wish you could have been there. She was so beautiful. You would have been so very proud.