OK, not actually the morning, more like “late afternoon/evening”… and I doubt bells are gonna chime—I’m pretty sure they don’t do that for the smaller events… and certainly I’ll have no trouble getting to the church on time; I tend to be relentlessly prompt… but still… well, you get the gist.
The boy whose tales I’ve detailed throughout my six-part “Empty Nest Series” is getting married to the woman of his dreams on what will be a cool, sunny Friday after a maddening year of fits, starts, and global mayhem, arriving at a milestone that’s as sweet and life-affirming as milestones get, and well… let’s have a whopper.
I have found myself awash in every kind of memory and emotion as we’ve approached the day, bouncing from excited anticipation to the sheer incredulousness that we’ve actually reached the point in each of our trajectories where this event is absolutely natural, welcomed, and celebrated. A new family of their own to build, a new daughter-in-law for us to love (as we already do); a new family of in-laws, warm, loving people we’re delighted to get to know and join in creating a circle of wagons for the newlyweds.
But still… wasn’t he just putting Pokemon binders together, clanging around the patio with his skateboard, hollering “you’re not my fwiend!” every time he disagreed with my parenting choices? It’s such a cliche, one of the most ubiquitous, in fact, yet one that proves itself to be oh, so true: it all flies by so fast. Even when you’re paying attention; even when you remind yourself it’s flying by; even when it still feels like there are years and years and years of childhood, and family trips, and teenage meltdowns, and college essays left to wrangle. There were… and now we’re here, many years past those moments, to a new moment, a new chapter, a new milestone.
I spent months of the 2020 lockdown digitizing our countless home videos from the early 90s on, and let me tell you: you try doing that and not getting caught up in an existential wonderland of tripping timelines and time-travel confusions about who and what is in the here and now, and why does then feel so real and close and tangible—touchable—when now is what is?
I sat transferring those tapes of him at two, three, ten, fourteen, and it was like that boy, that young, crazy, hilarious little boy was, indeed, the son I know and love. So viscerally familiar, so HIM, so right here… in this moment. And yet he’s not, not that boy, not here and now. That boy is relegated to tape, to memory, to the cloud, the past. And here, now, across the room, in a full beard, with glasses and headphones as he conducts a Zoom meeting with civil engineers he’s managing on a major Los Angeles mall project, is the boy that is. The man. In the here-and-now. I adore him. And I miss that crazy little boy. I feel both. It’s nuts, I know, but that’s how it is. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who wrestles with that paradox.
And that bearded man is getting married in the morning (well, not the morning… but we’ve already been over that) and I feel… happy. Grateful he’s found someone to love who’s good, honest, passionate, connected, and inspiring. Who’s dedicated not only to making their lives as a couple, as a family, as good as they can possibly be, but is driven to make the world around her a better place, too. There’s so much about her to admire, so much to love and celebrate; she makes a perfect fit for this man I parented who embodies those same traits and characteristics. They are a good match. And having made my own good match to a good man, I know how essential that is. It’s everything.
So I feel joy. I feel peace… and satisfaction. I also feel another little letting go. As it should be. As it must be. I know I will always hold my mantle of mother, teacher, mentor, and beloved friend, but I pass to his beautiful new wife the role of “primary.” As it should be. He’s in good hands. As is she. We’re a lucky family all around.
“Ding dong the bells are gonna chime”… even if only in my smiling imagination.
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