My dad is in the hospital. It’s five days before our wedding, and he’s asleep in a place that, for all of its niceties, smells like sick people. It’s not a life-threatening, but an extremely painful ailment which landed him there. He should be okay for the wedding, but that’s not really the point. My mom keeps track of his medication schedule on lined notebook paper and tries to pretend she’s not stressed, for my sake. Seeing both parents compromised at once is enough to make a lump rise high in my throat.
After leaving the hospital, I drove back to Cincinnati in the most ridiculous onslaught of rain I’ve ever seen- a ceaseless deluge, deafening against the windshield and roof. Like so many around me, I pulled over to the side of the road and turned on my hazards. And I laughed and laughed—or was I crying?—as I looked up at the dark heavens, asking, “Are you done yet?” Because I am.
I don’t mean to be a cynic, but sometimes I think weddings are important in a way that I’ll describe as Dickinsonian: That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.
I know that, as I look around a reception filled with everyone I love, I will realize: life will not always be so good. While I’m lucky to live a life cluttered with small joys, the downturns are unavoidable. Someday, be it tomorrow or years from now, I’ll again ride the slow rails of grief. Perhaps I’ll experience job turmoil or health concerns or anxiety over our next steps in life. And when one of those things happens, my mind will go to my wedding day.
On the back of my eyelids, I’ll see my cousins laughing and my parents beaming and my friends, embarrassing themselves in both drink and dance. I’ll feel a gown swishing at my feet, my partner’s arms enclosed around me, and I’ll know this once more: life will be good again. Despite the hardships—the jobs we hate or lose, the health problems that shake us to our cores, maybe the struggles of the path to parenthood—there is still cake to be eaten, still dances to be danced, still loved ones to love. And you will get there again.
With less than a week to go, I think I’ve finally put my finger on why I find weddings so important. This- this—is why we wed. Because life is hard, sometimes very hard, and you need someone who writes your pain medication schedule down on lined notebook paper. Because remembering celebrated highs can, somehow, help carry you through the lows. Because when you pull over on the side of the proverbial road and throw on your hazards, you want to close your eyes and see the place where so many points of happiness converged.
I wish this perspective for you. When it comes, you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter if your hair falls flat on your wedding day, or whether it rains or the DJ plays all the wrong songs. It just matters that you’re there.