we are gathered . . .

June 17, 2014

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I wish I could have pushed the “pause” button. It’s over now and, I must admit, in one way I’m just relieved that it is. There was a fair bit of angst and agonizing leading up to it, with all the things involved in planning such an event: things that my unskilled-at-event-planning-self was utterly overwhelmed by. But when it came down to it, the most beautiful thing happened—I was able to feel like just my normal self throughout the day; and that normalcy was really the most heaven sent gift that could have been given.
We started out on a jovial note: my maid of honor and I woke up to the delivery of coffee from my brother. He asked me about it beforehand, saying “Hey, it seems like a cool thing to do would be to bring you a wedding day coffee. Never heard of anyone doing it, but I think I’d like to—what would you like?” A short while later the van showed up, and my family members began comparing their selections of choice. As she does, mom proudly displayed her cup and spelled out the drink, while the rest of us raised our eyebrows at her customarily froo-froo brew, compared to our more stout selections. I got to be the morning hero, doling out a few prized gummy bears to my niece before sending them off for some serious bulk shopping. My mom, you see, had offered and, later, insisted (when I was worrying about the workload and asking if I could take the job away from her) on managing the food herself. She has this ability to just sail through tasks like that that others of us shrink from in horror. I don’t know how she does it but, when she told me she could handle it, I admitted that I have 34 years of experience to prove that yes, no matter what “it” may be, she can indeed handle it! Sure enough, she managed to pull off, with the happy hands of several willing family members, a full spread of fabulous picnic fare, perfectly suited to our barn reception. In fact, she pulled off the same sort of feat with my flowers. After some comical arguments in the planning process, she ended up surprising me at the last minute by doing the flowers that I had hoped for, but that she thought she couldn’t do with logistics such as Southern heat involved. There they were, though: daisies and wildflowers lovely as anything I could have pictured!
When we first entered into this planning process, we wanted it to be a family affair, with everyone just pitching in so as to make for a simple and low-stress event. What I was to discover was that making it a family affair just might not be the way to go if you’re looking for “low stress” :-) It probably could have potentially been quite “easy” if we had hired it all out. But I would not have had it any other way that what we did. The arguments and angsts that came along with it just served to make for stories to tell in the future, and made it so much more of an event than the day itself. It became, instead, a process of getting to know the new family members, and of relearning relationships with the old. I never dreamed that I would be comfortable displaying my worst, teary-eyed, overwhelmed state when surrounded by others. But I started to joke, as the day approached, about the number of meltdowns I had had so far, on any given day. Such is my family, however, that when I had hit my limit, they simply sent us off for some alone, recovery time while they carried on with the planning. Sometimes we all need to relearn that truth that the world will continue to spin without us propelling it onward :-)

I now sit in a bit of a stunned state, awed by the displays of love and kindness that we have benefitted from all along the way in the year leading up to this day. How do you say thank you for gifts that go above and beyond in so many ways? And is it even possible to do it adequately when such displays are just the latest in a lifetime of them? I guess that’s what happens with family: there’s just no rhyme or reason for the things we do for those we love. And for all the ways I want to now list things out and track them in an organized, librarian fashion, I wonder if maybe this is a category in which I will have to accept failure . . .I am destined to fail in the task of paying back all the love that has been given. So be it.
One of the things I have heard with some regularity over the last few months has been that “It’s your day!” This would generally be prompted by some sort of agonizing on my part about how to make the best decision: the one that would please the most people. I have generally waved off this comment. Depending on my mood at the time, my response would be either some sort of sarcastic statement about how, obviously, everyone BUT me was in charge of the decisions. Or, more commonly, I would launch into an attempted explanation of how my own happiness hinges so heavily on that of my family members that I cannot be pleased with a choice unless it seems to be one most likely to please the most people. Yet, inasmuch as I feel incapable of shaking this mindset, I am fully aware that it will send one running in circles faster than a pup chasing it’s own tail.
On this end of it all, I am starting to suspect that the truth, for me at least, may be something of a rather different slant. Maybe the decisions and people involved were, in fact, about everyone else. But maybe that “everyone else” includes me as well. For if the day belongs to the whole family, then the day also inherently belongs to me, as a part of the same. And when it came down to it, I truly did feel like it was my day—even in the parts that I just stepped back from altogether. Because I am the one who gets to mull over, and claim this day for the years to come.
I get to picture the look on those two little flower girls’ faces as they waited for me to tell them when to walk.
I get to remember fumbling with that little one’s sandals after she, noticing my own bare feet, asked if she could walk barefoot as well. A successful last-minute wardrobe change there in the grass behind the wedding guests.
I get to remember a spur of the moment tossing of my bouquet to that same little one as we left for the evening, and the smile on her face as she caught it.
I caught my mom crying during the ceremony and, I think, later as I was singing a duet with my uncle. I admit to a bit of a difficulty focusing on everyone, however, in the midst of it all, so could be off on the timing of the tears :-) I have seen my mother cry in the weddings of the other children, however, so this I kind of expected. I did not, however, expect her to sing. My mom stood up during the reception and sang a song: one she had done as a duet with my father many years ago. I am quick to tell others of my general dislike for surprises; this one, however, defied the norm. I was awed by the moment, and captured by my mother’s loveliness . . .it made “my day” :-)
Thanks be to the Giver of all, in whom is found such kindness that He would deign to grant us times designated solely for the purpose of basking in untainted Joy.

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3 Responses to “we are gathered . . .”

  1. Alysson said

    Such beautiful words on what was surely the most beautiful of days. But that’s more than appropriate for the most beautiful of brides. :-). Love you, and can’t wait to see you and your new hubby when you come through here!

  2. Anna, We are so pleased for you, and your opportunity to bask in a day filled with family love, as you embarked on the creation of your own family! Congratulations! We’ve enjoyed a few photos family/friends have posted on Facebook, and all appears to have been absolutely lovely for lovely you! God bless you with many, many years of growing in love. John and Linda Ziulkowski

  3. TJ said

    Congrats and blessings.

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