When you have children, the concept of marriage/partner/weddings comes to mind now and again. I scrutinize everyone – ask the girls! I try my best not to state my opinion, but it’s probably obvious. In the past, when relationships fail, I have been known to be a bit vindictive…ok, even thinking about voodoo – shredding one young man’s photograph and later hearing a cat vomited on his bed. It made me pretty happy! As you might imagine, Jenny and Michelle may at times be reluctant to make introductions.
Easter 2008. Jenny and Kris were about to leave for the airport. Jenny ran upstairs to collect her things. Kris was in the kitchen with Tom/me. He turned to Tom and said “I love Jenny. I want to marry her.” It was a surprise. I’m not sure why, as it was obvious Kris loved Jenny, but a surprise nonetheless. And we love Kris – kind, tender, smart, solid. And he loves Jenny. We could not ask for more. From that day forward, conversations centered around ‘the wedding.’ Jenny and Kris decided on 10/10/09. It seemed far off and as the weeks and months went by, we checked off activities such as venue, dress, celebrant, flowers, music, tasting menu for the dinner, hotel. Things were falling into place.
In April, 2009 life seemed to get in the way. During a routine colonoscopy, Tom was found to have colon cancer. The “C” word entered the conversation as Tom would need a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, followed by a rest period and more chemotherapy. As a family, our conversation changed a bit and ‘the wedding’ took a back seat as we worried about Tom and how he would feel on 10/10. Particularly on Saturdays, I found myself thinking ‘the wedding is in X weeks’, always thinking we had time. Funny how we think sometimes, like we have all the time in the world. And some of this counting had to do with Tom’s radiation treatments (28) and rest period (4 weeks) and restarting Chemotherapy in August. The counting went a bit like this – 5 weeks to the wedding/Tom’s treatment #2 (of 8) will be complete.
As if, out of nowhere, it was October 7 and we were flying to Philadelphia for THE wedding. Tom was feeling really well. His hair intact, platelet count stable, color good. A good sign. We flew into Philadelphia, it was autumn, maybe Indian summer, 75 and sunny. Jenny was calm. Things seemed to be in place.
The wedding was held in the University of Pennsylvania archeological museum. The space was huge and I worried the 100 or so guests might be lost in the space. The rehearsal went well, 15 minutes and we were onto the rehearsal dinner to begin the celebration. We were ready. Kris’ parents chose The Restaurant School for dinner, an old plantation home converted into a school for chefs. Perfect.
10/10. The day of the wedding! The morning and afternoon were filled with hair, makeup, talk, toasts, laughter. Everyone was smiling – we could not help ourselves. Tom walked Jenny up the aisle in what was called ‘Lower Egypt”. The altar was set up in front of an ancient sphinx, with golden lightening. And while I admit to significant bias, Jenny looked stunning and happy. Tom gave our daughter to Kris and the ceremony started.
To be honest, we had discussed the ceremony a great deal. How could we include and honor Chris and Patrick without being sad. We decided the priest would give a bit of history about each of the families, who they were, where they lived, what everyone did, and what they were doing now. Chris and Patrick were introduced to everyone, who they were, how much we loved them, and how much we wished they could be there in person. You could have heard a pin drop during the ceremony and everyone had a sense of these two families joining hands – everyone. It was perfect.
The ceremony was followed by dinner, dancing and laughter, now in "Upper Egypt." There is something wonderful about being surrounded by the family you have and the family you adopt, close friends. I wanted to freeze this moment in time. It was Jenny and Kris’ day – everyone they loved was there to celebrate and it was pretty obvious that those present loved Jenny and Kris. The toasts were honest, tender, lovely, funny. Tom’s toast to Jenny was filled with love for Jenny and Michelle and how he shared her hopes and dreams and that he would stand next to them now and forever. Tom danced with Jenny and Michelle – fathers and daughters /love. Easy to see on this day.
I took a moment and stood back, wishing to capture the moment and maybe stop the clock for a short time to stretch the beauty of this day. It was one of those perfect moments in life, mentally photographed to rewind and replay over and over and over again.