This weekend, J. and I ventured up north of Edmonton for the marriage of J.’s youngest niece to her high-school sweetheart. I knew I would be out of my element in many ways, but I was looking forward to celebrating the beginning of a new phase in this lovely young couple’s life.
My illness has interfered with many aspects of my own life, but it has disrupted J.’s life even more. I managed to get sick with my first blood disorder and my impressive blood clot just before J. and I first met. Because my energy is low and at points I have needed intensive caretaking, J. has seen much less of her extended family since I came on the scene. She has missed many family celebrations. Her nieces and nephew have grown up, partnered off, and created families of their own. She has seen pictures of children she had never met. So much has changed over this time.
Despite how much we have both missed, both J. and I were welcomed warmly to this celebration. We were embraced by extended family, who greeted us affectionately and showed interest in our lives. We could not have asked for more. I was particularly struck by the number of people who were aware of what we had been through of late and asked how I was doing. And they weren’t just asking; they were clearly inquiring about my health, they were aware I was not working, and they wanted to know how I was managing day to day. Everyone was kind and concerned and attentive.
Furthermore, my medical needs were understood and accommodated. The family was accepting when, rather than joining the family get-together between the ceremony and dinner, J. drove me to our hotel so I could nap. J.’s sister kindly arranged for our family pictures to take place immediately following the ceremony so I’d have time for that critical nap. And when we left the festivities early, people understood I probably would really turn into a pumpkin, and not just because I was wearing my first dress in years.
The wedding traditions may have been different than many of those I grew up with, but that was no matter. Jews and Christians alike bless the meal before they eat; they just alter the words a bit. Instead of the hora, I witnessed incredible two stepping. The speeches were funny and affectionate and moving. Of course I cried; I always do. And I imagine questions about the arrival of progeny will start immediately. The bride has some catching up to do, since her older siblings are already loving and caring parents. There was so much to celebrate.
Here’s to the newlyweds! May they enjoy many happy, healthy years together. I know they are surrounded by love and support, just as J. and I experienced at this lovely celebration. And I have no doubt there will be many willing babysitters when the time comes.