I hate going to weddings alone. But now that my youngest son is 16 and more eager to weed the entire front yard than suffer through ceremonies and receptions filled with more ceremony, I have no partner in the sublime. (My husband? Well, he will attend our children’s events–if and when–but he conveniently works all weekends otherwise.)
And so knowing that I would be leaving my home alone, I made arrangements to meet my daughter and her husband at the church.
The wedding was for one of my former students, a delightful, now 20-year-old woman who seems to have married an equally delightful young man. I have known her since her preschool days, when her mother and I were part of the same home-school group and she and her older sister (my daughter’s age) wore big bows in their long hair. She was beautiful even then–inside and out, just like her mother, who became a dear friend as our lives have interwoven through the years.
When I quit home-schooling to teach other people’s children, I had Jessie as my student four different times–her sixth, eighth, eleventh, and twelfth grade years, for either math or English. I got to know–and love–her well. She and I–along with her mother and Jessie’s best friend–even did Zumba together at our local health club, and when Jessie ran into me at the club years after graduation with her then-fiance, she was thrilled to introduce me to her handsome young man. Just as I was thrilled to be included in her big day.
When I arrived, I realized that I didn’t need to worry about being alone. As soon as we were seated, three of my friends and their families were seated nearby, and our lively banter began (in subdued, respectful whispers appropriate for the situation, of course). As I glanced around the sanctuary, I saw numerous friends, and I knew I wouldn’t have been alone even if I had come that way.
The entire congregation stood at the wrong moment and were motioned back into their seats–including us–and the tone was set for day. We were among friends–mistakes and all.
The ceremony was short and sweet; the wait for the bride and groom at the reception was not. But while the wait was long, being with friends was sweet. We had too many to sit together at even two tables, and so we wandered and chatted. I hugged and caught up with other students from Jessie’s class (including Fun, for whom this blog post was titled, thanks to Joey, another classmate, who suggested I write it; actually, he suggested I write about Fun, which may also happen). My friends and I–the young and the older–discussed the serious and the silly; we laughed together (a lot) and even prayed (a little) over the bride and groom (and food) and when a friend arrived to say her son at Boy Scout camp might have appendicitis. (Turns out he passed a kidney stone at the ripe old age of 11; we should have prayed longer.)
As it turns out, I may have arrived alone at the wedding, but I was among friends as soon as I arrived. And I wasn’t just among friends, I was walking with my own piece of history. As I looked, I not only saw friends who I love, but I saw students, parents, co-workers and former co-workers–now all friends. I couldn’t remember if I was a friend of the parents before I taught some students or whether that came after. (I guess either way, the fact remains that we are friends!)
Years ago when I worked at the newspaper, I wrote a column that talked about goodbyes. At that point of my life, it felt as if everyone came to this college town for an education or a boost in the career and then promptly left, leaving a little hole in my heart. Now, as one who has remained here to raise a family, I realize that most in my acquaintance stay. Our lives and focus and even career paths change, but we continue to interweave our lives, celebrating the history we have with one another while also continuing in our relationships while creating new friendships and new memories.
It amazes me that I can be so me-focused in the midst of celebrating one of the happiest days in the life of a former student. I titled this blog post for Oluwafunlola Falade, whom I lovingly call Fun. But I realized that while “suffering” by going “alone” to a young friend’s wedding, I had fun–among the blessing of so many friends.
Yes, this fun’s for you–and for me! 🙂