It was 5:30 a.m. and I was grabbing a cup of coffee to start the day. A day of all days, as my daughter was preparing to get married. Where had the time gone? So many memories, so many achievements, and interesting twists and turns. I had already made an outline of the speech I wanted to give. By the time the evening rolled in, I had decided to edit out parts two and three. I was sharing the speech with her father, my ex-husband, who insisted we both walk down the aisle together with her. I am so glad he insisted on that.
The evening commenced and dinner was served before we knew it. Soon the "day of" person tapped me on the shoulder and said it is time for the speeches. Her father took a deep breath and I put my outline away. If I don't know what to say by now, I thought, I have to be crazy.
So there we stood, in front of a room of friends and family. There she sat with her new husband at her side. Looking down on her I saw her sparkling eyes which matched her sparkling dress. She looked up at me like she did when she was in her baby seat. As an infant, she only needed to see my face, to be in my view, and she would be fine. So I would move her around from room to room as I did house chores. She would watch and smile. Now she was looking quite the same but this time I needed to be in her view. This time I wanted to follow her from room to room. It is funny how this happened.
Her Dad began his speech, about the days of her growing up. He spoke about her friendships and the influence of her big sister Ellie. I could see he was nervous but very brave talking in front of this big beautiful room. He was nervous at our wedding 30 something years ago too. So much so that the next day we were at an ER. He was simply dehydrated. He was also nervous when she was born. She was late by two weeks. We were set to be induced, but that very morning she came on her own. A beautiful nine-pound girl with jet black hair that would later turn blonde.
Her big sister Ellie was smiling while her Dad spoke. She always had the most amazing smile. She was the leader of their little pack; she dictated the rules of the games and who got to have life-size Barbie for awhile. They have grown to be the best of friends. We are so very proud of who they have become. Each great contributors to this society in their own way.
And so the microphone was handed over to me:
You were always the little girl with an infectious personality, just as your father mentioned. A testament to that are all of the people in this room here tonight. I remember well when you were born your father and I had already picked a name for you, "Allison." Your dad loved Elvis Costello and this was a name we both loved. But when you were born we took one look at you and somehow the name did not fit you. Instead, I saw the gentleness in your face and the sparkle in your eye. You reminded me of a lady that was the best friend of my grandmother. And so we named you after her; Veronica. And, yes, that is also an Elvis Costello song but it was the friend of my grandmother that we named you after. It was not until many years after you were dating your now-husband that I was sitting at the dinner table. Your brother asked me- when she gets married what will her name be? Then it hit us. We all realized that your new married name would be exactly the full name of my grandma's best friend.
For me, it was a gift from above. A reminder to say that life is brilliant and mysterious. It is spiritual and majestic. There are no true beginnings and no true endings. At that moment, as on this special night, we acknowledge that all has meaning and purpose.
The applause ensued for our speeches and the night rolled on with music and drinks. I wondered for a doubting moment if her new name was a coincidence. Do we make up these things in our heads when we cannot explain how they happened? After all, I always look for signs from those who have passed. Especially my brother Danny, who left us way too soon at the age of 18 back in the '80s. That was nearly 33 years ago. How he would have loved this night. How he would have loved our new family and his new nephew-in-law. Thinking of my brother became a bit surreal and overwhelming so I stepped near a window sill to shake it off.
And I looked out.
A neon sign flashing gently from across the parking lot. Bright red and gold, flashing as if to say, of course, life is magical. The sign read "Danny's" with pizza written below. And there it was.
So in this next new chapter, as we all roll along through thick and thin, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, let's not overlook the magical moments. They are also meaningful and purposeful. They are otherworldly, and reminders that joy can ensue, life can be lifted, hearts can heal, and memories will continue to be made.
Congrats my sweet couple.