As many of you know I became a college freshman a few weeks ago. My first English Composition assignment was to “write a short story, 700-1,000 words.” I was completely stumped! Writing fiction is not what I do. I write what I know (or, at least what I think I know) from my own personal experiences, but the idea of making up a story? Definitely a stretch for this old girl!
Finally, I decided to just write from my heart. And, gearing up for the fast-approaching wedding of my 21-year-old is definitely on my heart a lot lately. Opening the computer, the words flowed….
Frustration at her inability to fully appreciate the occasion crowded her thoughts. She wondered if this moment, the one she’d both anticipated and dreaded for decades, would only be remembered in her mind as a battle to maintain decorum. After all, if she gave release to the tide of emotions that roiled precariously beneath the surface, all eyes would certainly be on her.
In spite of the struggle, she knew that breaking down was not an option. How could she forgive herself if she caused anything to take the focus away from the beautiful couple preparing to exchange their breathless “I dos” at the building’s front? They deserved no less than the captivated attention of every person in attendance.
And, darn it! She wanted to be a part of that captivated audience in more than just the physical sense. Wanted to be aware of every word, every glance. To breathe in every single detail of the day. But the flood of tears straining for release continued to thrust her attention inward. Sighing, she had to admit that this “mother-of-the-groom” business was significantly more difficult than she ever imagined it would be.
All those years of praying for the child, no, the man who now stood at the altar, those years of training and nurturing and teaching and guiding – those had seemed difficult. But now she knew. The difficulty did not lie in the raising, but in the letting go. The sleepless nights and the kissing of boo-boos and the “How many times have I told you to clean your room without being asked?” paled in comparison to this. This letting go.
Her mind, the mind that refused, in direct contradiction of her best efforts, to stay in the moment, wandered over the years. Her thoughts skewed until she no longer heard the cadence of the minister’s voice. No longer had any knowledge of the beautifully decorated sanctuary. She was in another time. Her arms full of the snuggly sweetness of the newborn she’d just brought home. Filled with the wonder of the possibilities that had seemed so far away. Will he be as tall as his daddy? Have eyes like his grandma? Will he love to read like me? Who will he marry?
Who will he marry?
The recollection of that one simple question, the one whose answer had for so many years seemed so far, far away and was suddenly now, brought her back to reality.
She found that, thankfully, she hadn’t daydreamed her way through the exchanging of the rings.
And her mind was off again. Following paths of introspection when all she really wanted to do was anchor herself in reality. To slow down time with the weight of her presence. Yet, the irony of those rings, those symbols of continuity, forcing her to accept that nothing would ever again be the same was not lost on her.
She wanted to ball her fists and stomp her feet. She wanted to spit at the unfairness of her baby growing up way too fast. Not very ladylike, but some allowances should be granted for the affairs of the heart. And, in her defense, she did not give in to those childish impulses.
Amazingly, the calm, collected façade of a doting mother-of-the-groom was firmly in place. Those sitting closest to her were oblivious to the internal struggle. As of yet, by sheer force of will, not a single tear had marred her carefully applied make-up. A tear was not a luxury she could afford; it would certainly result in the release of the damned emotions.
Her mind meandered back to the present. Through the sheen of those pesky, just-at-the-surface tears, she watched her son lovingly place a ring on the extended hand of his beloved. And she couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty and grace of his betrothed. He had, undeniably, chosen well.
If the heart of her man-child had to be surrendered, the young woman at the altar was worthy of that gift. And really, had the older woman sitting in the pew been given the option of choosing her son’s bride, she would have chosen no differently. Indeed, why would she? The white clad, wife-to-be embodied the mother’s answered prayers for her son’s future spouse.
There was that word again – Future. How had it become the here-and-now so suddenly?
Once more, she pondered the rings and the continuity they represented. With a clarity that startled her, actually caused her to gasp out loud, she recognized the true irony – the only constant in life is change.
But, could she allow herself to accept this change?
With the same dogged determination that held her emotions in check, she resolved that, yes, she would accept even this life-altering change. And, not just accept it, embrace it. Celebrate it. Because this change was good. Heart-wrenching, yes, but good nonetheless.
Mental battles quelled, her attention turned once again to the two precious lives being united. As she heard the preacher intone, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” she allowed the tears to slowly make their way down her cheeks, not gushing torrents of pent up emotion, but tiny rivulets of release that came with the letting go.