During rehearsal one of the bridesmaids looked particularly confident walking down the aisle with two men on her arms. I am waiting to lead the procession and focusing on channeling that same confidence.
Light pours through the windows of the high rise, and the colors of fall and the Kansas City skyline are the back drop. I set the slow unhurried pace and saunter up the aisle.
I turn and have a view of the entire room. All of the bridesmaids walk slowly down the aisle. The room is full of the sounds of a string quartet, soaring up high to the ceilings of this urban industrial building. I’ve been feeling the chill in the air all day, though not exactly cold due to adrenaline and hormones, but now there is nothing but warmth. Candle flames dance. Wisps of baby’s breath adorn the chairs. A sea of smiling faces and people dressed in their best gaze on. The music changes. The first violin sings the first notes of Elton John’s “Your Song”
I’m transported. It’s circa 2001. It’s winter. Zadi and I are in high school. It’s probably around 11 am on a Saturday. “Let’s have a movie watching marathon. Moulin Rouge and Everafter. You make popcorn, I’ll get the movie set up.” Says Zadi. There we lay on the couch with our heads at opposite ends of the couch. Our long, newly washed hair draped over the arms of the couch, drying. There is something about having Zadi get married that makes me realize that we’re all grown up in a way that my own grown upness has not. Her wedding has turned me into a blubbery mess of nostalgia.
“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”
There she she is on Papa’s arm. The crowd is on their feet.
Papa and Zadi make their way around the corner, and I see Papa stagger. His knees look weak, and the tears that had been in my eyes all along fall freely. He told me earlier this week what happened. As he walked Zadi down the aisle he was suddenly struck with an image of holding her hands and teaching her to walk.
At the front of the room stands Zadi’s groom, Jason. He’s a gregarious guy, but now he looks a little nervous. I have a perfect view of his face, and his smile is priceless.
Zadi and Jason have dedicated their ceremony to a dear friend who recently passed away, and Jason’s brother (the officiant) announces a moment of silence. A hush falls over the room. And when John, the officiant, speaks again his voice quavers. I didn’t know Zadi and Jason’s friend, or the relationship that they had with her, but she left a mark on this world and it’s evident from all the people around the room who knew her. Her husband, the best man, is standing across from me and I don’t know how he’s holding it together. Tears stream down his face, but he looks stoic.
I have never known a loss like his. My love is in the seats now taking pictures of the ceremony. I wonder how the best man feels at an event where life is going on, and yet the life that he has planned with his wife, the mother of their child, is not. It’s unfair. I know so many who have lost over the years, and I’m hit with the true bittersweet nature of the marriage commitment. We never know how long we have to spend with one another on this earth, and yet we decide that however long that is, the remainder of that time will be dedicated and devoted to this one. The only one.
John moves on to some thoughts from Jason and Zadi about each other. I enjoy hearing their words come out of his mouth, and it’s touching to hear why they have chosen to spend their lives together. Zadi admires Jason’s hard work, integrity, and care for others. He says that he’s happy with her and that she’s the whole package.
The vows are so sweet. Jason holds it together quite well, he had his quavery moment this morning in rehearsal, and now only mists up at the beginning.
Zadi’s voice cracks as she promises to be Jason’s faithful partner. Touched, I just let the tears fall freely down my face.
And then they were wed.