No Shoes, Please: Early thanks

For her wedding last month, my daughter wanted both my husband and me to walk her down the aisle, but the moment was staged so that she actually walked to us first before we escorted her down.

Awaiting her arrival at the bottom of a flight of stairs, I got verklempt. To be honest, that surprised me a little because I didn’t have particular expectations about how it would feel to see my child get married, and in fact never gave it much thought.

However, I had pondered over my husband, who just in his preparation for the father-of-the-bride speech was often overcome with emotion. I was therefore a little concerned that he would be fighting through a torrential outpouring of tears in his delivery of the speech. Even my niece had advised, “Breathe deeply through your nose, Uncle. My friend says that helps suck the tears back in.”

Throughout the weeks leading up to the ceremony, I wondered about my daughter and now son-in-law’s emotions regarding their soon-to-be deepened commitment to one another, and how my mother felt about her oldest grandchild getting married. I wondered if my son would see himself gaining a brother he’d never had. I even wondered what my deceased father would be thinking about the marriage top to bottom and side to side, as he was completely invested in his grandchildren’s lives, and took weddings (and life) so seriously.

But I didn’t think at all about me. What did it mean to me that my daughter was getting married?

I didn’t really know until I was teetering on high heels that I hardly ever wear, waiting for my daughter to appear so my husband and I could symbolically usher her to a new life.

I found myself moved by the idea that life continues to deepen and grow for our family. I was stirred by the notion that a single person could change everything, the way a stone thrown in the water causes a ripple that appears gentle at first, but whose true effect may be revealed later.

I felt the earth move – not the physical terrain, of course, but the foundation upon which I rest my idea of what a family means to me. It used to be just the four of us as a nuclear unit, my extended family – the mostly quiet Asians in the background – and my husband’s extended family, whom I affectionately think of as the Spanish Catholic mafia. But on a certain day, at a certain hour, in a single moment, my family would transform to include certainly another member, but would also oblige itself to embrace a duo, a husband and wife whose individual paths would continue to intertwine and unify to the degree that the needs of the relationship might be an important consideration in and of itself.

For whatever reason, all of this struck me as extremely beautiful – even more lovely than my daughter looked in her wedding dress. And I felt profoundly grateful that life offered such exquisite hues in its color palette: mystery, anticipation, hope and joy all wrapped up in a wedding ceremony that brought our nearest and dearest together to witness the moment.

I’ve experienced change in my life before, unbidden and unanticipated. This was different in that we had been anticipating the ceremony for at least 18 months. However, its impact on me was no less profound. Thanksgiving came early for everyone this year, but for me it started late last month, with an occasion that opened my heart to different horizons on a new landscape. And for that, I’m deeply grateful.

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