There were a lot of beautiful moments at our wedding.
This, however, wasn't one of them.
Eek. I know. Not a pretty sight.
But of all the incredibly precious moments experienced over that weekend, this was one of my favorites.
Unlike me, Bob is not comfortable -- at all -- with being the center of attention. As we got closer and closer to the wedding -- even days before -- he started getting pretty nervous at the thought of so many people focusing their attention on us.
We wrote our own vows, and saying them was one of the things he was most nervous about. We planned to practice them the day before the ceremony, but didn't want to do it at the actual rehearsal, as we wrote them ourselves, and wanted them to be a surprise for our family and friends -- especially for Michelle, as she was quite prominent in them. So, we were supposed to practice them with each other away from everyone else. But, we never managed to get away from everyone, as we were running around doing stuff all day, then had the rehearsal, and then had a "rehearsal bbq" at Mom's house. By the time everyone left that, of course, we were exhausted, and we went to our separate "homes" -- I stayed at Mom's, and Bob stayed at The Redwood in town.
Though we certainly didn't stick closely to many wedding traditions, we did stick with the "can't see each other until the ceremony" one. Bob, though, was getting more and more nervous about being the center of attention, and especially about the vows, so we came up with a plan for practicing them without seeing each other.
Bob had to come up to Mom's that morning to pick up some aspen logs that were going to be used to outline "the aisle" up at the ceremony. There is a guest bathroom on the ground floor of Mom's house that has a tiny window high above the sink. I figured that would be the perfect spot to practice our vows together without being able to see each other. It would also afford a little privacy, away from all the chaos of all the girls getting ready. So that's what we did. When he was done loading the logs into the truck, he called me on the phone -- cell to cell, he, right outside the house, and me, inside -- and told me he was ready. I went into that guest bathroom, climbed up onto the sink, and opened that little window. Bob stood outside, on the porch below the window, and we took turns saying our vows.
I had just gotten out of the shower, hair soaking wet. I was getting ready to have Faith Hysell (miracle worker, by the way!) do my hair and make-up, and was wearing a big, comfy Pendleton shirt of my dad's. It was perfect, not only because I wanted my dad with me, but because it snapped up the front, so could be taken off without messing up my hair when I was ready to put on my dress -- which, thankfully, I could step into.
But, yes, the shirt, wet hair, no make-up, perched on a bathroom sink, talking through a window...
But hearing Bob's voice...hearing him relax, and say those words to me...both of us vowing to love each other and the family we were bringing together, forever?
In just two days, on October 21, it will be the 5-year-anniversary of my dad's very unexpected passing back in 2009.
Just over a week ago, on October 11, he was greatly missed at our wedding. Bob never got to meet him, and he wasn't there to walk me down the aisle we'd created in the grove of aspens where we had the ceremony. And he wasn't there to dance a father-daughter dance with me at the reception.
But all of us who knew him felt his love and presence. I'm certain he was there, looking over us, and beaming with pride at just how our family has survived, grown, and flourished in his physical absence.
Building up to the wedding, I thought a lot about ways we could honor his memory when we wed. There were a number of things we came up with, but the traditional "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" bridal items afforded lovely opportunities.
While I'm not sure, I believe that the old, new, borrowed, and blue items needed to be on my person during the actual ceremony. I had plenty that was new: my dress, my necklace and earrings, the clip in my hair, and my boots. Oh, yes, even my bra. Before and after the ceremony, though, I also carried this purse. It is a lovely gift, sent to me from Scotland by Alexandra Thomson, our friend who owns the Aiden House in Durness -- a wonderful B&B where Bob first told me he loved me back in 2011. A friend of Alexandra's makes these in Scotland, and she had this one made for me when she found out we got engaged -- it is made with the tartan of my dad's clan. So incredibly thoughtful. (Her friend's company is Tartan Bodices.)
These are the remaining three items that were on my person. Well, on one of my boots, actually, as I walked down the aisle. "Something old" is the tie tack; it was my dad's, and though it's too small to see very well here, it's in the middle, and has an R on it. "Something borrowed" is the charm bracelet, and this is my mom's. The morning of the wedding, I told her that I wanted to borrow something from her, as I had something from my dad already, and wanted something from her, too. We went to the bedroom she shared with my dad, which is also where I got dressed later, and looked through her jewelry box and a few of her dresser drawers. These moments were precious to me, and I so enjoyed hearing Mom talk about the different items we came across, and the memories and love that went with them. We settled on this charm bracelet. She met my dad when she was 19 and in college, and her sorority sisters gave her this bracelet when she and Dad got engaged. It has charms that represent things that are really important to her from that time in her life, such as symbols of her sorority and college, a "love letter" that's supposed to be from my dad, and a tiny replica of Eastern Airline wings. Right after college, she was a stewardess, as they were called then, and Dad gave her the airplane charm that's next to the wings. "Something blue" is the sergeant's chevron that my dad wore on his CHP uniform. I've had that since he passed, and keep it in a tiny beautiful wooden box that also holds some of his ashes. It's priceless to me, and I think he'd love that I had it on my boot that day.
“…In marriage, the point is not to achieve a rapid union by
tearing down and toppling all boundaries. Rather, in a good marriage, each
person appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude and thus shows him
the greatest faith he can bestow. The being together of two human beings is an
impossibility; where it nonetheless seems to be present it is a limitation, a
mutual agreement that robs one or both parts of their fullest freedom and
development. Yet once it is recognized that even among the closest people there
can remain infinite distances, a wonderful coexistence can develop once they
succeed in loving the vastness between them that afford them the possibility of
seeing each other in their full gestalt before a vast sky!
For this reason the following has to be the measure for one’s
rejection or choice: whether one wishes to stand guard at another person’s
solitude and whether one is inclined to position this same person at the gates
of one’s own depth of whose existence he learns only through what issues forth
from this great darkness, clad in festive garb.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life, p. 36
Trans. Ulrich Baer
Came across this while looking for readings for the wedding. Lovely.