Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

December 30, 2006

Happy is the bride the sun shines on.
                 — Traditional proverb

Holidailies 2006Lynn and Ron and I went to a wedding today, our last event of the Holiday 2006 season. The bride was Erin P., a young woman I met when she was in ninth grade — not an auspicious beginning, since she remembers that the first thing I ever said to her was a sharp command to stand up rather than sit on the floor of the hallway outside my classroom with her legs sticking out into the walkway.

This directive was given not to Erin alone, of course, but also to six or so other twittery girls who had developed the habit of encamping themselves before homeroom thus. The hallways were narrow, dark, and dirty (why would anyone want to sit on the floor there?), and I was particularly irritated by having to pick my way around legs and toes and over backpacks and other accoutrements whose looping straps and buckles were a minefield for anyone who wanted to move both swiftly and gracefully through the area.

When Erin was in eleventh grade (in the remodeled building, where the hallways were wider, brighter, and cleaner but where nobody sat on the floor anymore), she turned up in one of my American Literature classes. Bright, insightful, she was an engaged and engaging student. She stopped by my classroom from time to time, for a hello, a chat, and gradually, by the end of that school year, we had become friends. And we remained so, through her senior year and her college years and into her independent young adulthood.

She met Jake in college. We met him for the first time in 2004 when he and Erin attended a performance of Crazy for You, Lynn’s last appearance on her high school musical stage. Now it was not just Erin and I who met for dinner once or twice a year, but Lynn too. Erin had always been a model for the kind of young woman I wanted Lynn to be, and in her developing relationship with Jake, I saw also the kind of strong foundation and steady blossoming of a life partnership I want for Lynn.

Erin and Jake became engaged last Valentine’s Day. The wedding today was elegant and traditional, with a nuptial mass at 2:00 and then a sit-down dinner reception at a nearby hotel. The mass was in the same parish church that Ron attended most of his life, and as we were being escorted down the aisle I realized with some chagrin that this was the first time we were entering that space since Ron’s mother’s funeral in August of 2005.

Any apprehension quickly vanished. We’ve been having unusually mild weather here in central Pennsylvania, and the sun was bright, filtering through the stained glass windows. The music, carefully chosen, was meditative and inspiring, the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome. I listened to the words of the familiar ritual, both the mass and the marriage ceremony, feeling a joy and a gratitude to be held in the esteem of these young people as a friend.

Ron and I once received the traditional nuptial blessing in that very church. Maybe I heard it, maybe I was paying attention, maybe I was more concerned that day about other things. Today I heard the words as if for the first time:

May your fullest blessing come upon this man and this woman so that they may together rejoice in your gift of married love. May they praise you when they are happy and turn to you in their sorrows. May they be glad that you help them in their work and know that you are with them in their need. May they reach old age in the company of their friends, and come at last to the kingdom of heaven.

Sitting between my beloved husband and our incredible daughter, I understood why people cry at weddings.

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