Wednesday, April 18, 2012

choose happy

joey seawell photography
cake, check. flowers, check. brother ties dad's bow tie, check (but forgot to get his hair cut.) not checked.

dress, its skirt fanning out just like she had dreamed. check. photographers hovering, check. band waiting to warm up their horns. check. check. check.

she would be marrying within the hour. what to say to my child, on her way toward a new world with a husband? what a word. husband. in my mind she was still that baby who studied the lights of the hospital hallway on her way out of delivery. and in an hour she would have a husband?

i had written a note, taking time before daybreak to gather the words, mark them down for her because i would surely forget in the blur of ceremony, photos, party to come. 
but what did i know about marriage, really? in the 27 years of my own to her father, i had only rarely felt like i knew what to do. 

should i say:
• stay when you don't feel like it, when you are worn to the nub from anger, sadness, worry and fear?
• love when you may not get it back in the way you imagine? but look for it in the way it arrives?
• be kind? truthful? fair? had i been those things to the man who gave this jewel of a child to me?
• that it's hard work to make your life with someone, but so full of joy on those days when you both get it right? good work, worth the struggle, because of all those times you have stayed and stayed some more, worrying back through any pain to the joy you had in the first place, like the joy we both felt on a day such as this one? worth all of it.

in the minutes before we slipped the dress over her head, i handed her the note, hugged her, then took a step back, taking in every piece of my first born, thinking of that first hour of our holding together so many years ago, when i promised her just such a day as i imagined this wedding day to be. 

she glowed, her brown eyes — just like her father's — hiding nothing of her joy.

choose happy, i imagine i said, though in truth i can't remember anything about it. just the color and glint of her eyes, the beauty of what lay beneath them, knowing that staying when i didn't feel like it meant here she was, standing next to me, listening to my words. i tried very, very hard not to cry.

after, when i walked into the church with my son on my arm, calm covered me like a blanket. i sat in the front row pew holding my own father's hand, thinking of that day so long ago when i let it go and clenched it with another, knowing even as my child was taking her husband's hand, i was still learning how to get it right.

choose happy. so easy to say, just two words. not so easy to do sometimes, but every single day you get the chance. 

today marks three years since that happy day, and i can say for sure that my child did choose happy. and i have learned much from her and her choose happy husband, as they have made that happy life together in two small rooms.  

cheers to three years, to my Pea and her Prince! may i keep learning how to choose happy from both of you.


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