The Wedding – Day 6

Breathe

Frodo said, “how do you pick up the threads of an old life?”

And it is a little bit like that. Yesterday we drank ourselves into oblivion. And fought the pull of sleep, because there was only morning on the otherside.

I woke painfully early. Feeling kind of like I had only just crawled into bed. But, I couldn’t let myself fall down. The hardest part of this time of my life was over. And my body felt as though I were like chocolate left in someone’s pocket. A little bit smushed, a little bit broken, and a little bit soft and warm. And nobody hates this kind of chocolate. It is like finding a dollar on the ground, a happy surprise. Chocolate is chocolate, and this is the best sort of chocolate for smores.

I am not sure where that analogy was headed. I was tired. My stomach felt confused. And yet, I was also so hungry.

The day was warm. The rain and thunder had stopped threatening. A warm Saturday and we headed for the local Farmer’s Market. The streets were busy, and almost surreal. This small down full of strangers, suddenly filled with familiar faces. Everyone having spent a dreamy evening together at a remote castle outside of cellphone range. Which probably sounds like the premise of an updated Agatha Christie novel. The guests rode a shuttle bus up a winding road, under grey clouds…

The afternoon air was nice, but the pace of our travel, slow and meandering, as one would through a Saturday Market, the weight of the energy expenditure last night began to slow us even more. Until a couple members fell into feeling ill, and a few more members fought the extreme wash of fatigue. Crawling into beds, once returned to the hotel, to sleep as the sleep of vampires. Rousing only when the pull of hunger becomes insistent.

When evening hits, we venture out into the world, a bigger, busier world, with too many faces to recognize any. The friendly, flirty barista, replaced by a barista who refuses to make eye contact and does not say “good morning.” We separate and go different directions in search of food. Perhaps needing an escape from each other.

The pub I end up at is loud with an amateur musician, creating an atmosphere that robs of the ability to converse with the person sitting right next to you. We eat. And drink. And the energy is low. I try to joke, but instead I yawn.

Maybe today wasn’t meant for productivity. It was merely passing the time until the snoring can commence.

The Wedding – Day 5 (a day late)

The Big Day

How do you prepare for a day like this? This day you always knew would come, but never really expected it. The way one knows they will grow up and be an adult, but never notice it happening. The way you know the Earth is moving, but you never seem to feel it.

When you are young, if you are lucky you are wrapped up into a little nuclear family with ribbon and bows. A picture of my brother and I having drawn all over a large chalkboard to make our mother feel better. My brother’s side filled with random doodles and words. My side, an exact copy of his side (only much sloppier). He was my absolute hero. He still is. And I would have followed him anywhere.

And in that wrapped up nuclear family, I felt safe. I needed to feel safe. In my heart I have been lost. Only half of it beats because the other is still with my birth mother. And the idea of losing any of my family terrifies me. I can’t lose anymore of my already damaged heart. And it clings so desperately to my family.

I think I wanted to deny that this day was coming. It wasn’t someday sometime. It was now. But if I didn’t think about it, I wasn’t losing my brother.

But as the sun moved across the sky, and my brother watched his bride to be, I realized that I didn’t know this person existed. We have struggled, and fought, and beat every challenge that had come to us. My brother loves me. But I had never seen him love like this. I had never seen such adoration and happiness in his eyes. He loved to be in band, and he loved nerdy math and computer stuff, and he loved cooking, but I had never seen this love.

And as things moved forwards, as we sat in the seats, and the bride’s father walked her to my brother, and he took her hand and led her to the ceremony table, I realized this was real. This was happening.

And the truth is, my heart broke. And when I asked my mom if she was okay, and she said she was. I took a beat, and then told her that I wasn’t. And I cried. Because my brother, my hero, was now so extraordinarily happy. And, a little bit, it was like the Earth moved under my feet. And, a little bit, it was like we were suddenly adults.

The Wedding – Day 4

Just a little bit of gold

Admittedly, this is weird. How do you prepare for this? These things seem so distant, so unearthly. We are all here, but is this really happening?

People from all corners of the Earth come to one place. The Table Mountain Inn in Golden, Colorado. We walk in the door and immediately see familiar faces. We turn and see familiar faces. It is surreal. Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world…

Energy is kind of wobbly. Like a grey hair you are willing to keep, but just won’t go strait. Or, when you are trying to stack round rocks in a tower, but your hands are shaking.

I actually want to scream. Or drink.

The event of the night is the gathering of the people into one decently sized event space. (Let’s all show a little disappointment that the restaurant decided to still have their open mike night in the next room over…) But, as the room fills, and your drink gets lower, more and more faces fill the space. They are smiling, and wearing bright colors, so this can’t be a funeral. These people are all here for my brother, and his wife to be. It is too easy to tell her she is my sister-in-law, in a joking manner, but this is real.

And we all drink, and meet each other, because we will be in each other’s lives now. This is it, this is real. If I keep drinking maybe I’ll wakeup and find that it is a dream.

Unfortunately, the altitude is no friend of mine, I do not end up three sheets to the wind as others do. I drink. And I smile. And I joke. And I shmooze.

I am laying in bed. It is dark, and it is quiet. I can feel the amxiety and energy rolling off my parents. This is a first. This is their first baby, taking one of those natural, but huge ass steps in his life. If I keep my head down, and don’t think too much on it, it is just another day in Golden, Colorado.

But, when my alarm goes off tomorrow morning, everything is real..

The Wedding – Day 3

(Yes, I skipped Day 2)

High T and ESB

Have you ever been somewhere so historic, so grand, that the mere idea of sneezing frightens you?

We went there. And we drank champagne. And we handed our feet over to people who knew how to pamper them. Truth: I actually WANT to look at my feet now.

And then we travelled up a flight of stairs, walked through two doors, and it was time for Grand High Tea.

(Which required emergency rush shipping of a dress because “jeans are inappropriate.”

Dress looked great.

Felt a little bit like a bumbling idiot drinking quite posh tea. Trying to shmear jam and cream on my scone, to have all the jam and shmear fall off before reaching my mouth. Do I commit and just eat naked scone? Do I play the awkward fool and loudly admit my blunder? Do I descreetly scoop the jam and cream off the table with my finger and reslather it on my naked bite of scone? Turns out, it didn’t really matter in the end because the scone crumbled in my awkward grip and lest I snort up crumbs like an ant-eater, the moment was gone. I merely shifted my plate over the fallen jam and cream, and brushed the crumbs to the side of the plate, and took another bite of scone.

…that fell apart when I tried to shmear the jam and cream on a little more securely.

Thank gawd this dining area is so spectacularly grand! Look at that sconce!

In the end, it turned out I was a fail from the beginning. One does not START with the scone and jam, one starts with the mini munchkin sandwiches. (Which, by the way, are not actually “finger sandwiches,” because they are at LEAST three bite sandwiches, and if one is not careful in their bite, posh sandwich toppings are at risk of abandoning ship. In which case, the drama begins. Do I pretend it didn’t slide down ny chin and fall on the table, and keep eating? Do I awkwardly announce my blunder? Do I pluck the slice of cucumber off the table and replace it on my bite?

Let’s just say, my napkin got a lot of work cleaning my chin.

So I drank my champagne.

Back to the hotel for a quick rest. The uninvited rain fell gracefully. And when no one seemed to take it seriously, it fell like, as my brother put it, “dinasaur piss.”

Down to a humble, English style pub for dinner. And yes, our first meal out with our long traveled English family, and we take them to an English pub. Big T, aka Texas friend, asks what the family feels about their new king. I get his attention and remind him that it is awkward to talk about the new king, in an English pub, in America, with our English family.

I ended up ordering The “Queen” Mother burger, medium rare. It seemed appropriate.

It was Burger and Brew Wednesday.

The day is actually over now, and I’m not sure how I got to this point. Multiple mimosas? Dom Perignon? Pints of my beautiful E.S.B? Or maybe I have begun finally falling into the spirit of it…

Tomorrow, we travel again. To a town closer to the wedding (castle) venue. And things will begin a new level of real all over again…

The Wedding – Day 1

And we ascended from sea to sky…

The day of travel. We woke up early and left the smoke-filled atmosphere of Northern Washington, and flew through the air to Colorado. We lost an hour, and a little bit of sanity. Astounded by the number of people so glued into their cellphones and devices (yes, I am on my cellphone device…) and just have no awareness of anything going on around them, except moving forward in line, and getting up from your aisle seat when the window passenger needs to use the restroom… How many times, throughout all the years of air travel do they need to tell us to put our phones in airplane mode?

Touching down in Denver and the oppressing heat slams into me. As well, finally, the gravity of this situation in which we have begun… by the time we reach the baggage claim I have an immediate headache, and a smile pasted on my face. Kind of like “emotional labor” right?

Denver wasn’t new. Not really, at least. But, I think, if I just stop for a minute, or a moment, it’ll all come crashing forward, what all of this is, what it all means, seeing family I haven’t seen in years, seeing my brother so stressed out he can barely walk straight, everything.

I started this year off crying, and thought it could only get better. But the truth is: this has been one of the hardest years of my life, and I have so many fractured emotions, I don’t even know what I am feeling.

But, it is 10:30 at night. I am finally back in a bed after some 15 hours. And I need sleep. And when I wake up, I better strap my boots on, because the show is about to start…

Respite – Day 2.5

The floor was quiet, not in an eerie way, but in a respectful way. Her room was dark and somber, we waited in the hall. They showed us the room, set aside, where it would be happening. The extent to which the staff had gone to to help see this happen. Her father tells us how the day had been going, successful surgery, but tests revealed more bad news. The worst. The cancer had begun truly showing its aggressive side, and this time… they were out of options. 

“Two things,” he quietly informs us, “she only wanted two things. For her kids and sister to get here… and to get married.”

We enter her room, and the look on her face is fairly blank at first. But she is handed her glasses and recognition dons on her. My mom goes to her for a hug and her face crumples into tears, “thank you for being here,” she whispers around her oxygen. My mom hugs her, and a slight smile comes to her face as she states, “I’m getting married today.” My mom tells her she loves her, and she tells my mom she loves her back. When she steps away, I realize I am next. She looks small and frail to me, and I’m not sure I can hug her. I do anyway. She whispers to me, “take care of my sister,” and I tell her, “of course.” And then she holds onto me. She holds onto me like a lost child looking for the way home. And all I can do is hold onto her back, until she lets go of me. I hold my breath and pour as much strength and calm towards her as I can. And then she lets go.

The staff had brought in a wedding dress and tux. They’d even found clothes for the children. They’d baked cake and provided cookies and refreshments. They were going to make sure this was as fabulous as possible. The crowd of people who showed up, was awe inspiring alone. To feel the weight of the world’s unfairness upon you, to see this room full of people who love and support you. These people who dropped everything to celebrate your life and this moment with you. The room was full of tears, tears of sadness, and tears of joy. 

The groom played, Baby I Love Your Way, as her father wheeled her down the hall. She wore an off the shoulders gown and a boho style headband. The groom took her hand as my mother officiated. Inside the room was crowded with family and friends. Outside the room were dozens of staff members. Both parents, her two children, and her sister all gave her away. And in the end, the groom took her face and kissed her gently on the mouth, then on the forehead. She was married.

She was finally married and she was surrounded by family and friends. Her parents let the cheer of the moment wash over them. It was a bittersweet moment. Their eldest daughter was finally married. A final wish granted. And now she could sleep peacefully.

“Are you ready to go back?” My mother whispers to her, after five minutes of her sitting with her eyes closed. 

“No way,” she responds. 

“Isn’t it a little weird, all of us standing around staring at you?” My mother whispers. 

“That is because, I am the queen.” And for tonight, and maybe forever, she was..