I am a sucker for weddings.
It doesn’t matter who it is, where it is, when it is or what’s going on in my life at the time.
It just matters that two people who think they are one another’s soulmate are getting up in front of all the people that matter most to them to promise a lifetime of “I love yous.”
But of all the weddings I’ve been to or participated in, I don’t know if anything can come close to the beautiful love that surrounded me this past weekend as my mom’s cousin Steve married his Melaney.
It’s such a blessing to be surrounded by my mom’s family on a happy occasion. Our family has suffered a lot of setbacks and sadnesses recently, which made this special day even more memorable.
I had conversations with people I haven’t seen since I was in diapers; I became closer to those with whom I’ve lost touch; I smiled until my cheeks hurt and I held back happy tears until my throat was sore.
I watched as a room full of Steve and Melaney’s closest friends and family were each reminded not to take love for granted. My uncle held tight to his sweetie of forty-plus years as he nodded in agreement with the minister. I watched my great uncle cry tears of joy as his son walked down the aisle with his beautiful wife.
There were windows on every side of the room we were in overlooking the beach and boardwalk at the Jersey Shore were I spent many a summer day.
There were babies of all ages and sizes being passed around, often times the same two or three culprits stealing them away a bit longer (which I loved).
There was dancing and singing and hugging and kissing.
And did I mention a certain handsome ring bearer who did his best to push his car down the aisle (He was eventually pushed on his car, but did fantastic nonetheless)? How special that Melaney asked that we show off our little man on her special day. And Addison joined her cousin April as the loveliest, littlest flower girls.
We spent several hours with another part of the family on Sunday and I continued to count my blessings. So many of us cousins gathered in one spot — new girlfriends, upcoming weddings and babies. We’re growing up but still so close. I love watching their parents interact, too.
I’m a sucker for weddings, yes, but perhaps I’m even a greater sucker for family.
I felt every emotion in the course of three days.
Stress, anxiety and impatience in the hours and minutes leading up to our departure.
Gradual peace and contentment on an uneventful five-hour ride.
Excitement and more impatience as family members were spotted in a hotel and busting-at-the-seems joy when seven or so of us scrambled in a squished hotel room to ogle at little Addison in her first family appearance.
Pride at the camera flashes going off in her direction, comments about how big, how sweet, how beautiful, how strong.
Relief at Zachary enjoying a swim in the hotel pool with his dad — how brave he’s getting, how strong he’s getting, too.
Delight at easy, interesting conversations over a delicious dinner.
And then Saturday, the Day of Love. I felt such love. For my best friend who shared a special day with me nearly three years ago; for not one but TWO amazing children that I loved watching being held by the people who once rocked me and soothed me at family gatherings from another generation. For my aunt, my uncle, the links to my mother, the incredible conversations and memories we created in a restaurant at the shore. For my mother, Uncle Paul, grandparents and so many others who were not there in any physical form but who I hoped were watching with the best view and probably the best perspective, too. Boy, did I feel their absence.
And the love between Steve and Melaney. I cannot begin to thank them for reminding me of the value of love and to never take it for granted.
I hated to see the weekend coming to an end, to say goodbyes that will hopefully be much closer to the next hello than they have been in the past.
I’m rejuvenated, refreshed, relaxed and so, so lucky.
It was a beautiful weekend.
My sister Melinda and her family are going to start their three-day PA adventure today and I cannot wait to see them. My nieces are beautiful, pleasant, smart and so sweet. They are spending half of their Jersey visit just to see us and our little world and again, the wave of happy emotions takes over again.
Enjoy your day! And tell your Valentine you love them. 🙂