This past weekend, my nephew married the love of his life. You can see it in how they care for each other, you can see it in their eyes . . . it’s pretty much a perfect match and I’m pretty sure they’ll live happily ever after.
The wedding was a small, private affair with only family invited. They didn’t want the pressure of a large gathering and, having been involved in three such events (if you count my own), I get that and wholeheartedly concurred with their decision . . . and our family size kinda lends itself to such. My brother and I were the only two children of a father who was one of two children—and my two offspring and their families were otherwise occupied with a dance recital and a newborn. My mother’s side is another matter altogether, but they’re scattered in all directions and, sadly, our contact with them over the years has been limited, especially as my mother grew older and less inclined to travel. My sister-in-law’s family is the same way so, all told, the groom’s side of the room was occupied by seven people plus his parents.
As the time approached for the ceremony to begin, I was thinking about Preston’s grandparents. None of them had lived to enjoy this moment. Preston’s maternal grandfather was the first to depart, taking his leave far too early in 2002. My parents were sandwiched in between, my mother passing in 2008 with Dad following in 2009. Preston’s maternal grandmother was the last to go, dying just last year. While his bride had two of her grandparents present, Preston was grandparentless—at least in body.
The traditional taking of pictures followed the traditional ceremony (personalized with the inclusion of a love letter from a Civil War officer to his wife [for Preston] and references to Harry Potter [for Micah]) and while we were awaiting our turn in front of the camera, someone called my attention to an item inside Preston’s tuxedo jacket. Pinned inside the coat, on the left hand side so they lay close to his heart, were four very small frames. And in those frames were four very small pictures . . . one of each of his grandparents. I learned that Micah had two such pictures pinned to the ribbons of her bouquet, included to honor her grandparents who could only be with them in spirit, as well as a tie tack that had belonged to her grandfather.
It was such a wonderful way to honor and acknowledge the lasting influence of six very special people—people who were, in part, responsible for the people Preston and Micah have become. And their gesture of love and respect reminded me how important tangible things are in bringing those we’ve lost into focus. Yes, they will always be in our hearts. Yes, we will always treasure our memories of them. But there’s just something about holding an object that once belonged to them, something they enjoyed or used often, that makes you feel so much closer in that moment. And oh, how the distance can disappear—even if just for a bit–when you see their picture, when you aren’t dependent upon memory to line their face with years of laughter or to bring the twinkle to their eyes . . .
Yes, this past Saturday, I’m pretty sure the perfect couple was joined together in holy matrimony. And I’m pretty sure, through a gesture so simple and yet so meaningful, all the grandparents were present . . . if not in body, most assuredly in spirit and in love.