Kissing the bride

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Rob’s mother marries this coming weekend. Though originally set to be a June bride, which would have made it possible for more family and friends to attend, the groom’s border crossings were increasingly contentious as Canada is not keen on the whole “marrying outside your nationality” thing, although they are less snarky about it than the U.S., whose crossing guards are even ruder than usual to a potential non-citizen spouse.

We had planned to mini-celebrate the nuptials after the fact at Christmas because the bride and groom to be were to be wed two weeks prior, but the plans were squelched by a Nazi parish priest, who insisted on pushing it back to January.

Traveling through the Canadian Rockies at the height of winter is no one’s idea of a good time. Least of all Rob’s. He’s slogged more than his fair share of white knuckle high mountain snowy road driving and his whole being visibly sagged at the prospect of attending a January wedding in the Okanogan Valley.

“We’re flying,” he said.

Not that this is a much better solution. His mother and fiance took about seven hours between delays and sitting on the tarmac to complete the flight here to Edmonton that normally takes less than an hour.

“Maybe the trip will be a respite.” Rob told me as he eyed the Weather Network for temps and precipitation estimates for the weekend. A balmy plus 4C and rain.

He will give the bride away. His mother didn’t have the full on Catholic wedding the first time and is determined to right that past injustice.

Dee was asked to be a flower girl and she is, naturally, giddy with joy at the prospect of donning  a white dress and having her own bouquet. She was quite put out that I didn’t get her a bouquet of her own when Rob and I married. An injustice to check off another list.

My mother-in-law then asked me to read. I couldn’t say no even though it’s probably very inappropriate for a non-believer to get up on the altar and recite scripture.

Especially a verse that she refused to have read at her own Catholic wedding going on twelve years ago.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

A total load of drivel that has no basis in a non-Disney princess reality.

Love has, as far as I know, not a single magical property to make anyone less human. Everything Corinthians talks about is perfectly human and very much a part of just about any relationship a body could have from the one with your significant other to the most superficial interactions with the strangers we run across daily.

I understand it’s appeal and why it’s a wedding favorite. The day one marries is full of promise but also wildly unrealistic expectations of absolute bliss forever that shouldn’t be encouraged.

What did I choose back in the day?

Something from Revelations – which in retrospect is an odd place to go hunting for scripture readings – and the Psalms. One of those semi-porn things that David or Solomon supposedly wrote.

Rob and I had only the vows that the province of Alberta insists everyone use and are, frankly, the best vows I have ever read, spoken or heard.

People should have the weddings they want. It’s one of those things you don’t get to do over and not getting it “right” the first time can be like a grain of sand in an oyster shell for some. Not much of an irritant at first and not destined to be a pearl at any point down the line.

It would likely be argued that Corinthians is extolling the virtues of the Creator, but I think that’s crap. The God I’ve read and been taught about is a tyrant where love is concerned and expects way more than he gives back.

Aside from my reservations about the scripture, I am uncomfortable participating in Catholic ceremonies simply because they are sacraments. It’s not exactly blasphemous on my part but it is tinged with a certain amount of disrespect. But how does one say “no” to a request from someone ones cares about on such an important day in his/her life?

You don’t. You can’t. So you compromise yourself a bit because in its essence it’s not an act that affects my immortal self as much as the bad karma of refusing would.

In yoga, we strive to cause no injury. One of the examples my teacher gave was the story of a monk who accepted the hospitality of a family while he was on a journey through the mountains of Tibet. The monk was a strict vegetarian, but the mountain folk of Tibet are not and they offered him a meat stew. The monk was faced with a dilemma. Eat the stew and violate his own beliefs or refuse and hurt the family, who had no idea that their meal was an affront.

The monk ate the stew and considered it the very best choice. Between eating a bit of meat and doing harm to the good intentions of well-meaning people – the feelings of people win. As they should.

This is a shot of Lake Edith in Jasper Nationa...

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So, the date is set for Tuesday, June 26th at 5 p.m. in Jasper National Park. The invitations have been issued. The rooms and photographer booked. Dinner plans made. The dress is being altered as I write this.


I sent Rob some pictures of me in the dress. His daughter, Mick, saw them and him looking at them and asked, “Isn’t that bad luck?” He told her that he had helped pick out her mother’s dress, and they were married twenty-five years. I told him that Will hadn’t seen me in my dress until the wedding day, and he was sick not even three years later. So much for the bad luck theory.


He asked me if I am getting excited and, truthfully, I am not quite there yet. I did most of the heavy lifting getting the wedding arrangements made when I married Will. Wedding details consumed me and it was made worse by Will’s insistence on a princess bride type thing. Because the wedding is taking place in Canada, Rob is taking care of many of the traditional bride things. He runs things by me. A bit of a role reversal which helps me understand better the lack of apparent enthusiasm men seem to have for their weddings. It is not a lack of interest but rather the fact that they are not intimately involved in much of the planning. And there is still so much here to be done. Sell the house. Wrap up things at work. Pack. Successfully cross an international border. I guess I am too mired in the details of here and now. I know the wedding will be beautiful. Rob is determined to make it so, and I trust him. The setting is gorgeous with a mountain backdrop by a river. He has previously proven himself quite the romantic, and I have no doubt the ceremony will meet or exceed standards already set.


My dress is beautiful. Ivory satin A-line with a deep v-neck and two thin straps on either side in the back. It had a very small train which I had the seamstress, Sally, remove, so now it just skims the ground slightly. I have an ivory pashmina in case it is a bit cool and white sandals that I don’t think completely match, but since they are on my feet and mostly hidden, who cares? I have been thinking about how to wear my hair and what old, borrowed, blue and new items I can wear. And flowers. A bouquet is a must. Not roses though that is as far as that thought has gone. For jewelry it will be just the necklace that Rob gave me the first time we met in person in Idaho Falls. Two interlocking hearts. One silver like the chain and one gold with a single diamond setting. I have never taken it off.


In truth the only thing about the upcoming wedding that is really on my mind is the wedding night when we are finally just us. In Arkansas we spent part of one evening dancing in front of the fireplace. Just lost in each other. I could spend forever looking in his eyes, pressed against him, wrapped tight in his arms. Music in the background. Warmed by the fire. Time spent by just we two has become the most precious thing. Whether it is romantic interludes, sweeping water out of a flooded basement or just having breakfast and talking.


Rob was talking with his sister-in-law last evening before our nightly conversation and she wondered why we weren’t going to try just living together for a time before getting married. I can understand why people would think that would be a good idea. I used to think that living together before deciding to marry was a good idea too. But Will and I lived together but with the understanding that I expected a commitment within six months. Even then I didn’t believe that living arrangements should be open ended. I did not think it wise to put distant or even vague deadlines on such an arrangement. Living together until you graduate from college or save enough money for the wedding or to buy a house. I don’t see how you can truly commit to another person if the intent is not right there from the beginning as opposed to something you work yourself up to. Research has actually proven my assumptions correct. Couples who live together for a short time with the intentions of marrying are more likely to marry and stay married than couples who live together with the intent to try out the arrangement before committing to marry. Furthermore, couples who co-habitate without a firm marriage commitment up front are less likely to marry in the first place and more likely to divorce when they do marry. I remember being mildly rebuked for our living arrangements by the priest when Will and I were planning our wedding and I hauled out these very statistics for him. I could tell he was aware of them too by his reaction, and by the fact he never mentioned our “sinfulness” again.


You can’t practice being married. How could you? Could I have practiced for the difficulties that can only be encountered in a union that is committed? The struggle with infertility that Will and I faced or the years of care-taking that preceded his death? Could Rob have been prepared for Shelley’s cancer? Her last months? And even the happier times. Or the day to day? You can live together. Split the rent and the bills. Buy furniture and a car. Take vacations and shop for groceries. Make love or just have sex. But you are still only roommates because the door is still technically open. Husband and wife. Partners forever. That is something that is achieved day to week to month to years. It goes even beyond the outer boundaries of love. It calls for a commitment up front that is really faith-based and asks that you trust the other person to love and support you, even when you are not so lovable and giving the support requires effort, if not actual hard-work.


I am looking forward to our wedding day, the rituals and the nervousness, and the romance, but it is just the first step on a longer road. A wedding is just for a day but a marriage is for a lifetime.