The First Wedding
We sat at the Cuddle Up Pavillion at Glen Echo National Park, alternately peeling our skin from the vinyl chairs and fanning our faces with the wedding programs. The groom paced near the altar, drinking lemonade and accepting hugs from family. His groomsmen scanned the area for signs of the bride.
There was a giggle from my left, and I turned to see a group of guests leaning over a cell phone. “That is SO like her,” said a woman in green, “to be late to her own wedding!”
I took out my own phone to check Facebook, and saw her post:
“I am going to be late to my own wedding. Shocker. Don’t worry, Ryan, I’m coming!!!”
I smiled, and then aimed my phone’s camera at the groom.
I sent her the photo with the message “He’s still here!”
He stayed, of course, and my good friends were married on a hot and beautiful August day, in front of all the people who love them most. They made fun of me later for the grin on my face through the ceremony, but when you’re that happy for someone, you can’t keep it in.
The Second Wedding
Rain on your wedding day is lucky, but not if your ceremony is outdoors. Luckily for my cousin John and his beautiful bride, the threatening skies held back and left the orchard dry. Huge iridescent dragonflies dipped between the wedding guests as we sat by the apple trees and watched the happy couple promise their lives to one another. When the minister mentioned their son, soon to arrive and make them a family of three, everyone reached for a tissue to dry their eyes.
As we found our seats under the big tent for the reception, my little cousin Olivia ran to our table and held up a bag for me to see.
“I picked apples!” She beamed with pride.
“Wow, that’s a lot of apples! Are you going to eat them?”
“Nope!” She bounced away to show others her bag.
It was wonderful to be with the family for a whole evening. It was more like a party than a wedding – casual and comfortable and welcoming. The peaches in the salad were so good that I sneaked back to the serving bowl and played the claw game with the tongs to pull out more peach slices for my plate.
When the music started, I taught Olivia to twist – an essential life skill – and she dominated the dance floor for the rest of the evening. As one adult’s energy ran out, Olivia grabbed another’s hand and demanded they dance. Three years old, and she was already going to the deejay station to request her favorite songs. He was sorry to have to tell her that “Gangnam Style” wasn’t in his playlist, because it’s hard to disappoint someone so adorable.
It was a wedding to remember. A reunion and a beginning. It was love and happiness and a gorgeous Massachusetts apple orchard at the start of autumn.
I came home on Friday and dropped my keys on the counter.
“Honey, I’m home!”
I heard Tasha laugh from the couch. She’d spent the day hanging out with the cats and the complimentary WiFi, because my vacation days were tapped out, but she’d wanted to visit me in August anyway, for a change of pace. We hadn’t had a chance to hang out and talk in ages.
“Welcome home!” She came up the stairs and motioned to the phone on the counter. “Someone called a few minutes ago,” she said. “I didn’t hear the message, though.”
I pressed the button and my heard father-in-law say “Hi. It’s me. Call us back when you get home.”
“Everything okay?” Tasha asked.
“Well,” I said, “it’s either bad news or baby news. With Sarah due in a couple of weeks, it could be any time.”
Happily, it was baby news. My sister-in-law had gone into the hospital that morning with contractions, but she’d been sent home. Not unusual, apparently. As of the time I called my in-laws back, though, she was back in Labor and Delivery and they’d decided to keep her there. Baby on the way! I hung up the phone after extracting a promise from my mother-in-law to call as soon as there was more news, even though it was likely to be in the middle of the night.
Tasha and I went off as planned to the Friday afternoon farmer’s market, looking for some tomatoes and green beans for dinner. Friday’s market is set up in the hospital parking lot, so I turned towards the side of the hospital that I thought might be the Labor and Delivery unit, and waved enthusiastically at the windows. “Go Sarah! You can do it!”
It turns out that my encouragement was appropriate. By the time I pulled into my driveway with my pal and my bags of local produce, I had two missed calls on my cell phone, giving me the good news that my beautiful niece had arrived. I’d like to think my cheers helped a little, but my sister-in-law sure did a hell of a job. So now I’ve got a niece, and she’s the cutest little squeaky thing. I can’t wait to see what she turns into as she grows up.