I went to a wedding on Saturday.
This in and of itself is not necessarily a blog-worthy event. Weddings happen all the time. Weddings are beautiful and hopeful and provide the foundation for what is, on that day, an optimistic outlook for the future. I have become cynical in the past decade or so. Loss can do that. In my darkest moments I am downright angry, in my mediocre moments I am sad. In my best moments I am just beginning to feel a touch of happiness. There is joy in tragedy after all, I base my podcast on this concept.
So back to the wedding.
Josh and Jeff, the couple saying their “I do’s” have been together for nineteen years. They both had significant relationships and experiences before this one. Josh has children from his prior relationship. They came together as adults (rather than teen-agers) with memories of their past and hopes for their future. After almost two decades with someone it would seem that the spark may have dimmed a bit. The bad habits and mundane routines are well established. All the “little things” that can drive couples apart could have had time to root themselves into daily life. I am not making marriage and long-term relationships sound very good.
All I am trying to say is I guess I was expecting more of a vow renewal sort of vibe. I could not have been more wrong.
The invitations were theater themed, as was the whole affair. There was a playbill describing the event and tickets for admission. It took place at the Scenic Theater in Pittsfield. An usher (Jeff’s brother) greeted audience members at the door. The theater was full. Gold and Yellow flowers, balloons, dresses and vests adorned the stage and the stars of the show. When the curtain opened the officiant had us begin with a standing ovation.
While much of the ceremony was standard fare, a song, some readings, little ring bearers and flower girls, the ceremony itself and the vows were anything but standard. The woman who performed the ceremony delivered a welcome that caught the audience (or at least me) from word one. She was funny, tender, witty, and serious. While most newlyweds are also new in their relationship, Josh and Jeff had years of commitment behind them. What could they promise that they had not yet delivered? This theme was articulately captured and facilitated throughout the vows and exchange of rings.
They were continuing the promise. They were acknowledging the love. They were sharing the journey.
They voiced caught as they spoke to one another. They both spoke of the chance invite two decades ago that led to their meeting. They both remembered in great detail their first date and how they knew, at that moment they would be together forever. They cried. I was in my seat, tears streaming down my cheeks. To still feel THIS STRONG about someone all those years later was a lot for me to witness in that dark but love filled theater.
This is just part of the story.
They spoke about how they had to trim their invite list almost in half after they made a list of who they wanted to come. It is a humbling honor to know that you have “made the cast list”. My role as audience member is special. As the theater emptied and I could get a good look around I was taken aback by the wide variety of people in attendance, how many of them I knew, and how universal connections are more far reaching than we can wrap our heads around.
Angel was there. I know her from our years together in the Concord School District. She is very involved in theater. Annie was there. She is the niece of Jeff and ran for me at Bow High School. I sat at a table of people who knew Josh from Relay for Life, which is how I came to know Josh. He is very devoted to living a life of service. When he came by to visit our table, he quizzed me on why I was with these people. Even on his wedding day he made sure the audience members would be happy.
I saw Jacob, an amazing singer who I know through my friend Zoomie. I saw Justin, a man I once taught with and had as a health student years ago. I saw Brian, whose daughter Madison once ran for me at CHS, and I saw Ryan, a former member of my CrossFit Gym. None of these people connected logically for me as I looked, but the four of them are good friends with Jeff. All dedicated, like Josh, (and apparently Jeff) to a life of service.
We are their community.
I was there alone as Kenny was in Florida. I don’t go out much anymore and social events produce a high level of anxiety for me. I didn’t want to go (upon waking) but knew that I had been invited for a reason. While my first connection to Josh was Relay for Life it goes much deeper than that. He knew and loved Molly. He has remained a loyal and true friend. He came and checked on me when I had my brain tumors removed. I drove him to get his car one day on a whim. I took him to the airport with Jeff in a snowstorm.
We are each other’s people.
So yeah, I went to a wedding on Saturday. I was entertained. I was touched. I laughed and I cried. I reflected on past events and I pondered future ones. All in all, it was a really good show.
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