Reflections on a wedding anniversary
"I'll let you know in the morning" — my (then) future father-in-law
So it was Beltane. It was 2005. I was still fresh off the boat, so to speak, and about to marry this strange woman who, up until eight months earlier, I'd barely spoken to. It was at a little ranch in Northern California, home to a delightful couple who were practically second parents to "my Christine". As I recall, many of the guests showed up the day before and it was at that point that I met M—, who was to be my father-in-law. I'd asked him (in jest, because Christine needed no permission) if I could marry his daughter. His response was above, and for the life of me I can't remember whether he ever answered my question the following day.
This is about saying "thank you" to so many people, and not just about that day, but for many others.
Thank You To…
Christine, obviously. I've told her story (and mine) many many times, so I'm not going into detail. Look on my homenode for links about "coming to America" and whatnot if you need or want to.
Tessie, Christine's daughter, who was going through "My Mom Has Cancer" Hell and yet was cheerful and delightful and said "Yes!" when asked if I could join her family. She's been a tower of strength despite everything that has happened around her and to her. I love her like she was my own; she's my best friend as well as my daughter.
Our hosts, S— and C—. He performed the ceremony for us, she did all the organisation. All of it. They are still a delight to me, even though he is no longer with us.
(Was Tessie's dad there? I need to check photos.) Even if you weren't, thank you. Tessie loves you and that's enough for me. You did what you could, what you felt you needed to, and I honour you for that, despite my judgements.
lizardinlaw, whose username here reflects the Loki/Coyote side of her nature. In all the photos I have of the day she had a huge grin, and it was a delight to see her there with her children (Tessie's cousins, to whom also a thank-you!) You remember hiding rubber lizards everywhere around our house? They became a source of hope and joy to us as we spent weeks discovering them. Christine had had her mastectomy, and would remark that lizards would shed their tails to survive attacks from predators, and we thought there was a significance in that.
All of Christine's cousins, and aunts and uncles. I feel guilty that I've not been in touch with too many of you in recent years. I own my shit and acknowledge my shortcomings, but know that the hours and weeks I spent with you all make you family in my heart.
Damnit, I almost forgot my other best friend. He was the third person I met in the whole of the US (after Christine and Tessie) and was my best man that day. Not only that, but he was a grill chef too. I have such a great photo of you in your pig nose and fancy weskit. Your family too. I love you all.
So many of Christine's friends. SO many friends, I cannot name you all. But I remember you, and am thankful for each of you. Some of you shared your photos with us, and I still cherish them!
The one noder who materialised out of the æther. You brought fabulous wigs. We still talk about that. You were fun and I have forgotten your name. Forgive me, names are a weakness.
David, who brought an entire brass band (in uniform!) to the reception afterward. You all played marches and many of the guests marched around with garden tools and brooms to John Philip Sousa! Your wife and daughter each baked cakes, which was a blessing too. I still have the little brass mouse from the groom's cake.
Jenny, without whom. You took care of Tess so often while Christine and I were courting or having a handfasting. You helped with air tickets too, and I'm so grateful. One day you'll forgive me my sins, I hope.
Gosh, I can't forget (because what's a wedding without bridesmaids), the bridesmaids. You were pictures of happiness and love and fun. As I recall you were all wearing swimsuits under your dresses so you could go and leap into the pool afterward, which you did, and quite rightly!
Finally (another "without whom…"), the noders. E2. All you lot reading this. I wouldn't have known that seven years, and my new, intentional family, without this site being here. Some of the originals are gone, either temporarily or forever. I think of dannye, even though he didn't like Christine very much. I had the pleasure of staying with him overnight on a road trip. Dannye, you were a good man, who even if you didn't always agree with everyone, and were renowned as being occasionally disagreeable, were a gentleman. (That sentence has run away from me, possibly to start an eldritch life of its own; I don't care.) IWhoSawTheFace I never met in person, but I admire his determination and love of life. You never gave up on Christine, but neither did I. Respect. I miss you too. Countless others who have known me over the years. Some have extended their hospitality, some accepted mine. You all played your parts; thank you all too.
I'm bound to have forgotten someone, and I beg forgiveness.
There's an olive tree in the garden. It's where we were married. Occasionally I sit under it and rejoice. I've forgotten grieving and mourning now, and years ago moved into celebration.
As I grow older (I've spent a quarter of my life in the US now) and I face my own decline as my poor old body slowly breaks down I reflect on a life well lived. Now don't get to thinking, "Oh, this is it, this is part of a good-bye". I have no plans on shuffling off any time soon. But I've hit the stage where I know that the day approaches, the day I'll say my final words to you. I will probably never know that they will be my last words, and neither will you. But my philosophy now is that each day could be my last; each farewell could be a good-bye. Left to my own devices, I'd put that day off for a few more years (even decades!); I still hope to see so much and love even more people. But just in case, let me say "Goodbye, I love you, you're allowed to miss me or celebrate, allowed to be happy or sad. Enjoy life."
Why does this feel like Bilbo's birthday speech? I don't have The Ring so I shan't just vanish.
Also, to whoever softlinked Angel from Montgomery, you're a bloody genius.