The one that got away...
just might be you!
I cried. A lot. All week. The weeks leading up to THE wedding week. Most might assume I cried for reasons they could easily guess. They would be wrong.
When we set out to plan a child’s wedding—for us it was last one in the brood—there are so many factors that might induce tears. For instance, what would the weather be that day ( we did have some rain) and how would it impact my hair? How comfortable a pair of shoes should we buy/pack to ensure maximum comfort while shimmying to “1985” (a song parodying the ucool parent we might have become).
We have a longer past from which to view the just-pink horizon of someone else’s present. We understand the minutes are as precious and fleeting as the sunshine can be at 7,000 feet in the Uintas Mountains (even if you don’t understand how to pronounce Uintas).
Also, the weeks leading up to Davis’ wedding were anything but pleasurable. They involved pain originating from a place deep inside of me, a place near or in proximity to where I gave birth to him. You get the metaphor here. As the writer Fredrik Backman in Beartown writes, “It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.”
But I wasn’t just letting him go.
I was letting go of an era in our blended family life. The last time most of us had come together might was twenty years prior, when we played in a golf outing in my first husband’s honor. There was in mix of Januzzis, Wicks, and Manleys on the course. Davis hit the first shot off the tee, and he was only able to do that. Now he plays in statewide competitive golf tournaments.
The night of his wedding, the bride’s father gave his speech and offered up blessings. Next, I stood before the crowded event venue to give my own version of a “Wedtalk.” Surveying the room, the Seals and Crofts’ lyrics, We may never pass this way again, ran like a ticker tape over the tables, chairs, candles, and handmade-by-cousins’ remembrance stand in front of me.
In my view was Mark, my steadfast light, and our adult children, partnered off and or ready for their own adventures with fly-fishing, careers, and soon-to-be babies.
The last light of day also highlighted the absence of my deceased parents, while shining a beam on five of our loved ones, from the generation above ours (I won’t say older, Aunt Lynne) present for this event following glaucoma surgery, a fall on the hearth in the hotel room, or cancer scares, and plenty of joy and heartache over time.
Off to one side, there were my two Januzzi sisters, my nephew (the best man), along with my Floridian niece, who was a senior in high school. Though we were minus a niece missing to start college and two other siblings. We’d come together after the deaths of our parents and typical family squabbles and returned to stand strong at each other’s side.
Everywhere I looked, someone was in a time of transition. That was the biggest lesson: my stasis had been a transition too.
Or at least my body had been through one.
When Davis first mentioned getting married in August, I asked, “Can’t you change the month? I hate my late summer body.” When it’s too hot to walk, run, bike. Sitting along a lake dock with friends is preferable. When potato chips and sugary drinks and gelato can no longer be avoided and become part of your everyday routine until you’re forced to put on your fall jeans. When your tan begins to fade, just a bit, because the sun is fading too.
I had been pushing up against all of that for so long, controlling my diet, my drinking (I hardly drink, but do enjoy a glass of good wine), incessant workouts, putting in time at my desk, controlling my output with hard dates that only meant something to me. Had it been the circumstances surrounding the pandemic that caused me to hang on so tight, or something more inside of me?
My body finally said, “no more.” The week before we departed, I received acupuncture, went on some new supplements plus Celebrex, halted my overly long walks, avoided yoga, ate whatever I wanted because I felt sorry for myself. Though the night before we departed, I was still cleaning the house, and lanced a fair portion of my right thumb, thereby showing up at the new in-laws family picnic with a big ole bandaid. I carried an entire Walgreens aisle in my suitcase, including pain patches, bandaids in all sizes, ointment for cold sores, makeup I generally don’t wear. I showed up to the wedding week with a bandaged thumb and a bruised heart. But I was there.
We want our children to see us as young. We want to feel that youthfulness too. Until my recent injury, I had recovered from a previous one full of vim and vigor. Weeks later, our plane landed in Utah. Thanks to the mountains, the dry air, and a wee bit of sunshine (after a day or two of rain), my aches had disappeared. Most of inside sadness did too.
Whenever someone encountered me crying, I’m sure they were thinking I was sad. My parents were not there, Davis’ father, Devin, was not there. Our child, Kay, contracted Covid, and would never arrive. My big sister, one of Davis’ first babysitters, was not there.
Yet, I was so utterly grateful for the grace granted to hike towards the bluest of skies, to stand mid-stream of the cold Weber river and cast my line over and over, convincing the guide it was okay if I didn’t catch anything, and landing the biggest brown trout right before our time was up. To laugh loudly while hurtling down the K90 Olympic tubing run as water sprayed over me and the artificial turf. Despite the roll of my eyes when Mark put the donut holes in our grocery cart that first day, I ate plenty of them. On Friday, while my husband hosted two dozen golfers, I hiked alone and awarded myself the prize of a cinnamon roll and dip in the pool, for getting this far.
The tears flowed also from relief. I’ve carried these feelings, this love, this inability to put into words the meaning of the outpouring of support inside of me and out, across an imagined finish line. We’d made it here from the four corners of the states and few northern European countries. And we were worthy of celebrating this astonishing feat.
Davis and I have shared the same roots for so long, I felt that uprooting, during my time on my couch. I was giving birth again, and delivering him to something greater. I was delivering myself a new life too. Handing some things over to the next generation, telling them to run with it. Watch as they marry, raise children, expand their vocations, soar on a Zip line, and acknowledge whatever sadness or happiness they have carried these many years too. Realize and acknowledge Davis and Kyra’s friends, all our children’s friends, had become their family, more so than we wanted to accept.
Since returning home, I still find myself crying. It’s menopause. Maybe. I’m certainly tired, as I averaged five hours of sleep each night, plus the time change.
There are many friends to catch up with, Italian lessons to cram in, a few more important trips to make this year. My writing projects are at a junction I planned for them to land, and I have a few surprise acceptances for pubbing I’ll share over time.
Mostly, I have me back. Whether I’m a crying fool, that’s for someone else to say. I danced to every song, including the last one, Coming Home, about someone leaving their heart in Oregon. Well, I carry mine with me, near the sleeve, but tucked just inside a few new folds in the midsection, along with some Moochies Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and a Twist soda drink, bites of frog eyes salad, homegrown corn and jello desserts, not to mention a few flutes of champagne and a batch of pizzelles.
And just in case, a few days after returning home, I attended a Zumba class, where dancing to Afro-Caribbean beats shook off any last vestiges of my control.
It’s not our children we are letting go of. We’re letting go of ourselves.
What are you letting go of these days? I’d like to know.
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