A lot has happened recently. I could get started on a longish list here, but it’s the main event that I need to debrief. A couple of weeks ago our youngest child got married.
It was a lovely wedding. Actually, it really was. I’d anticipated at least a small family ruption, but (as far as I’m aware) everyone was on their best behaviour. Our family has a history of hot-headed trouble at milestone events, so it wasn’t unreasonable to be anxious. What I hadn’t anticipated at all, was that we, as parents of the groom, would be elevated to a sanctuary where, even if something had kicked off, we would likely have been blissfully unaware. Because I thought I’d still be playing the hostess, busily making sure that everyone else was catered for. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be in the holy of holies! And I’ve been to enough weddings over the years to know how these things work, so I could have thought it through, but I didn’t.
So to my ridiculous surprise, on the big day, simply because of our position in the family, we were allocated special places: At the church we were ushered to the second row, just behind our son and his best men (there were two) and at the reception we were placed at the top table with the bride and groom and the bride’s sister and dad. We were the ones getting special treatment .
People were so generous towards us. The guests were respectful and kind and well-wishing. Nobody criticized or complained about anything (not to me anyway). The last minute preparations at the hotel before we set off made me so nervous that my hands shook so my sister-in-law stepped up and reassured me with kind words. Someone else pinned on my corsage of flowers. They all said things like, “You must be proud” and “Your kids are a credit to you”. They took our picture and told us that we looked “lovely”. They did little things for us. Our oldest friends unexpectedly arranged taxis, so we didn’t have to think about it, let alone worry about it. Before I knew it I was being helped into the taxi and whisked off to the church.
All this kindness came as a complete shock to me. I’d done a great deal of worrying, planning and supporting in the weeks and months leading up to the occasion and I just expected to carry on feeling the weight of responsibility. Instead I was swept along on a tide of goodness. I felt that I was in orbit, spinning close to the sun and relaxing in its warmth. My glass was filled, my plate served first, I was honoured and thanked. Gifts, flowers and favours were left for me. People checked in with me often. Yet only hours before I was worrying so much that I just wanted it all to be over. By the time we’d settled into the happy, noisy buzz of the evening party, I didn’t want it to end.
Reflecting on it all now, writing this back at my kitchen table, I know that I have a lot to be happy about. I really am truly blessed. I’ve also learnt something new along my journey of self discovery, which is that being who I am is all that matters to other people. They won’t always be forthcoming with special treatment, or paying for a new dress or even saying the kind words I want to hear, but they will always acknowledge who I am. My place. It’s a place that I’ve lived long enough to earn and nothing can take it from me.