Proverbs 18:22 The Message (MSG)
Find a good spouse, you find a good life—
and even more: the favor of God!
and even more: the favor of God!
"Your dad would be so proud of you", I said softly, while tears stung my eyelids. My hand was tucked in his bent elbow as we waited for the cue to walk into the chapel where he would be married the next day. His smile faltered briefly as the significance of the loss we shared in common bobbed to the surface of our emotions. It wobbled there quietly in the joy and excitement of this milestone event. In less than 24 hours this youngest son would be husband to the woman who had captured his heart.
We bustled through the next hours, he with dangling wedding details to plug into order, and I with hosting his siblings and grandmothering his nieces and nephews. The rehearsal dinner was merry as the different sides of families made their acquaintances. The weather was bitterly cold and the snow a fascination to the Florida grandsons who were meeting the fluffy whiteness for the first time. All the travelers from out of the area had arrived safely, but the local forecast included a winter advisory for the festivities the next day.
After leaving the late night party, following the dinner, Kevin and I headed to our hotel. Since we lived about 90 minutes away from the wedding site, we had reserved the room earlier with my daughter and family, the ones from Florida. The grandsons, 5 and 3 years, would be sharing a cot for the night at the foot of our bed. Hoping bedtime rituals would all be completed and the boys sleeping like angels, we slipped the room key into the door slot and entered quietly. A chorus of greeting came from the cot where the two occupants appeared to be far from entering dreamland. With any peaceful sleep already jeopardized by heightened emotions, I succumbed to the reality of what appeared to promise a sleep challenged night.
Turning the last light out, I sandwiched between the covers of the queen-sized bed next to Kevin. Mommy and daddy were just a nightstand's width away in the other queen bed. Cozy together, we closed our eyes, at least the adults did.
The bickering began.
"Mom, tell Dominic to stay on his side."
"Ian is laying on my blanket."
"I can't go to sleep."
"Why do we have to sleep together? I don't have enough room."
From the parent's bed, "Be quiet now! Stop bothering your brother. Does someone want a bopping?"
Seeing where this was headed, I voiced a suggestion. "Why doesn't one of you come up here and sleep with Papa, and I'll sleep in your bed?" The swap was made and surprisingly, I wandered off to sleep. My bed mate awoke at some later hour with a nightmare and insisted on mommy's comfort. When she invited him to her bed, I took advantage of the extra cot space to sleep with limbs arranged in my favorite positions.
We had to be dressed for the 1 pm wedding before room check out at 11:00. The adults called turns in the shower, while some lumbered down to the lobby in their PJs for the slim pickins' hotel breakfast. Saturday morning TV kids' shows kept the boys slightly occupied; driving toy cars over sheet mountain ridges and valleys, or over the slick surfaces of furniture was another way to pass time. We manged to all spiff up in our best duds and spill out of the room, luggage in tow with time to spare. My other son's family (he with the wedding party somewhere else) met us for lunch in a restaurant downtown as we counted down the time to the big event.
Guests were already arriving as we stepped into the chapel. The only family from my kid's dad's side, a sister, was there and wrapped me in an embrace. As I chatted with this sister-in-law and friend, a thought expressed between us stirred emotions, and I felt the loss again with her. The wobbling was a bittersweet blink of tears which quickly gave way to the joy of the present. The missed one would always remain in our hearts and to touch his memory together was a privilege reserved for those he had loved and who still carried his imprint.
I was sitting in the front row next to the man who had encircled my family when he married me. He had stepped into our lives, selflessly providing for our needs and allowing us to find his love solid and without pretense. He had added two children and now more grandchildren to my life. I was grateful for what had been and what was now. God had been very good to me, to us.
My son stood alone in the front waiting patiently for the party, the preacher and his bride to enter. Up close, I could see the anticipation in the faces of those who stepped carefully in to stand on either side of him. My oldest son, had a twinkle in his eye as he proudly took his place as best man. The two brothers look so much alike! The moment had arrived. As Ashley's mother stood to signal us to rise and usher in the bride, I watched her step gracefully to the top of the aisle. Then I turned to watch the groom watch his bride approach. I could tell he was wearing his emotions close to the surface before, but now his eyes were brimming with tears. As he took her arm from her father's cuddle and turned them both towards the front, guests were reaching for kerchiefs and wiping eyes with their hands.
The ceremony was a beautiful expression of Austin and Ashley's love and desire to join together under God for all of the years of their lives together. The pastor spoke as a mentor who loved them and showed his tender heart for them with a few of his own tears. When he rebuked Austin for bending his head to kiss his bride before he had spoken the final word of the ring ceremony, we giggled. When he drew out his final words, and teasingly chided Austin with interjections of 'not quite yet' and 'almost', we laughed. The kiss was finally allowed, the couple pronounced Mr. and Mrs. and they made a perky exit.
The party gathered in the basement while guests were escorted out to find the reception. There I hugged my new daughter-in-law welcoming her to the family and encircled my son in an emotional embrace. We are entering a new chapter of his life and I'm thankful he has found his Father's joy. Truly, his fathers are proud of who he has become and the desires of his heart to always seek God's will and pleasure.
Congratulations, Austin and Ashley!