The first week of July, the first week of my first full summer as a wedding celebrant, and I’m feeling pretty ready. The week’s ceremonies are all written, approved and typed up on good paper, and the hand-made keepsake copies all nicely bound and ready for delivery. I’ve practiced with my new hand-held microphone, and I have my outfits, with the scarves that don’t clash with the bridesmaids, all picked out. Not exactly laid out on the bed like the first day of school, but pretty close. All I have left to do, since hubby is out of town, is to sit down for three days and sink into my planned retreat to write the next batch of fall ceremonies, because July is about to come in like a lion.
Too bad about the patch of water I notice on the carpet in the hallway, which quickly turns into a little flood in my kitchen, which turns into a bulldozer in my front yard, tearing up the garden, the grass, the whole yard in search of a broken sewer main. Too bad about the three days that go up in smoke, or down the drain, or whatever metaphor is appropriate to my now addled and anxious brain.
If it’s not the sewer, it’s something else; that run of bad luck, that chain of events that is sent to test us, or to break us, or maybe isn’t even sent at all, but just happens.
Thank goodness for the weddings. Thank goodness that during that first awful week, in the middle of my panic attacks, immediately after the bouts of self-pitying sobbing, I had weddings to show up for, that I had something to remind me what I really needed to focus on.
And what a week it was! The wind was ferocious up on Tunnel Mountain. It was warm, but the wind came in hot gusts from four directions, and knocked down the newly-decorated plinths, the tables, and sent my book and glasses flying, not just once, but several times. The gorgeous little flower arrangements were put back in their boxes and out of harm’s way. The little cue cards we were using for the readings flitted like butterflies just out of reach. Hairdos were toast. The tent that had been promised to the violist, to keep her and her instrument out of the sun, laughed and flapped in the gale, and refused to be part of the wedding at all. Surely this was an awful situation. Surely this was a bride’s nightmare.
The bride didn’t seem to notice. Her smile was unstoppable. Her gown was delightful, sweeping and dancing across the meadow. Her groom was grinning. Their kids were laughing and happy, though they accepted their family tokens with great solemnity. And the violinist, whose husband sat beside her to steady the music stand, played the most exquisite music from beneath the shade of an old Douglas Fir.
The next day, the wind had stopped. All the fluffy white clouds had been driven away by the wind, and the skies were wall to wall blue. The sun was shining. Well, not so much shining as bearing down, beating, flooding with heat and light, the park where the white wedding chairs were neatly placed in rows. It was 31 degrees and there was no shade. Not a tree, not a bush, not a drop of shade. Surely this was a nightmare. I mean, the wee babies that were part of the processional. The grandmas. The young kids. It was much too hot for everyone.
Except the bride didn’t seem to notice. And neither did her guests. They were attentive, and responsive, and they breathed in the smoke of the sage that the groom’s mother smudged us with. They took the hand fasting ribbon when it came to them, and they gifted it with their best intentions before they passed it along. The groom definitely didn’t notice. He only had eyes for her, and his eyes were brimming with tears most of the time anyway. And when it was all over, when those guests could have run for the shade, they stood a little longer, because the wedding party – the bride, tall and elegant in lace, and her very happy groom in his Black Watch kilt, and his friends and the two boys in their kilts, and the girls in their long black gowns – all lined up against the blazing backdrop of Rundle Mountain. And that was something to see.
I came home from those weddings to a kitchen that was out on the driveway, with the carpet all torn up and heaped into pile to go to the dump. I also came home to a husband who said, “it’s only stuff”, and “we’ll figure it out”, and, “sorry you had to deal with everything”, and, “how did the weddings go?” I came home to a partner who had said some twenty-five years ago, “for better or worse”. It was a good thing to come home to.
I don’t know what will happen next week. None of us do. But I do know that we’ll still laugh, and we’ll probably cry (I will most certainly cry) and we’ll deal with it.
We’ll lean on each other, and we’ll figure it out.