Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Happy birthday to our beloved boy

This is the soul who chose me as his mother 31 years ago, and chose my husband as his dad. How grateful we are that he is ours, how enriched our lives are by his presence in our midst. On this his first birthday as a married man, I want him to know how proud we are of the man he has become, of his goodness and integrity and humor and courage and pure sweet-bossy take charge lovingness. We love and cherish you, son, forever and ever. Amen.


Monday, October 3, 2022

May you always laugh

This is the photo my son posted on the socials with the news of his wedding. I love that he loves to see her joy, and wish them both a lifetime of many more deep soul-stirring laughs.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Another wedding!

One of my daughter's best friends since they were pre-kindergartners got married this weekend. Many of the parents of that class became close friends too, so some of us were there, along with a large cohort group of the class that went from pre-K to eighth grade together, who then stayed close through high school and college, and now as adult working people. Those who now live in other parts of the country booked their flights so they could be in attendance as perhaps the purest soul in the entire group betrothed herself to her true love. The absolute most beautiful thing for me, after watching the lovely Alyssa exchange vows with the gallant Jasper, was watching our kids together, the way they still fall over one another so easily, even now as they fold their plus ones into the mix, the easy laughter, their decades of shared memories imparting an effortless joy.

The groom works at the same non profit where my girl worked before she changed jobs in May of this year, so her former boss was also there, a man her whole family got to know at the various fundraising events they used to stage when our daughter was part of the events team, before she moved over to business partnerships. When we attended the dinners, her boss used to seat our family beside their big donor VIPs, because they trusted us to be socially pleasant and conversant enough not to mess up those relationships. When her former boss saw me at the wedding he came over with arms spread wide for a hug. "This is Kai's mother," he said, introducing me to his partner. "She's royalty!" And then he wanted to know how our girl was liking her new job. "Is she ready to come back to us yet? We miss her!" Music to a mother's ears.

Speaking of mothers, Alyssa's mom and I have talked each other off various ledges since the beginning. We tended to be similarly anxious mothers, our imaginations hyperactive and unrestrained, and our girls have told us many times that they are so happy we had one another to vent our fears; it took some of the helicopter mom pressure off of them as they tested their wings. It was a gift having one with whom I could be completely transparent about my most catastrophic thoughts. We both felt completely understood as we then proceeded to reassure each other, itemizing all the reasons why our worst case scenarios were unlikely. And look how wonderfully our girls grew up!

It was a beautiful wedding, different in its particulars from my son's more rustic affair, but with the same love energy charging the atmosphere. It was held at the elegant Prospect Park Boathouse in Brooklyn, with the vows and the reception taking place on the outdoor terrace beside the lake, and dinner and dancing inside the grand manse, with its handsome beaux arts arches and sweeping staircases. 

Of course, we took pictures and made videos, all the mothers, as we have always done when our kids gather, and then we exchanged our treasures in a flurry of texts the next day. And me being me, I also screen shotted some of the images our young people shared on social media, to augment my record here. These children indulge us mothers sweetly, even now. One young man, who went on to the attend the same high school as my daughter and who could always be counted on to escort her right to her door after late night parties, even asked to take a picture with me to send to his mom, who wasn't present. What a charmed class our kids were a part of. Few classes ever remain quite as connected as this one. They, we, are a soul cluster indeed. 



Aren't they so beautiful.

Friday, September 30, 2022

An ending

Last Sunday afternoon, just as I sat down to dine with three dear friends in a restaurant across town, I got a text from my brother-in-law saying his and my husband's sister had just died. I rushed home, thinking to comfort my husband, but he had gone into his cave, watching the ballgame silently in between fielding calls and texts from family members. His sister had been ailing for some time with lung cancer, which had lately spread to the frontal lobe of her brain. Her death was expected, but no less devastating, especially as this sister and our family had for years been estranged, due to, of all the empty reasons, a continuing stalemate over the terms of her parents' will. We had managed a warmer communication toward the end, but it is a thin comfort when I remember all the years before, when our families were close, when the cousins played and laughed, when my mother in law was still alive to be the glue. Families are hard. This death is hard. My husband is emotionally submerged, my son was philosophical, my daughter wept. "You're taking it the hardest of us all," I said. "No," she replied, my wise child. "I am just the one with the most access to my emotions." At least our sister is at peace now, and I like to think, understands that love never went missing, not for a moment, even though speech was, for so many wasted years, withdrawn. And now she is gone, and the earthly things that drove a bitter wedge into the heart of a family can never truly be healed, at least not in this life. They say there is no point in regretting what can never be changed, and yet I do. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

My son got married!

The last of our house guests, all family members who had traveled from all points to attend my son's wedding, left on Wednesday, and the next day lots of work rolled in that had to be attended to. So I didn't really rest from the whirlwind that was my son's wedding until Friday, when I mostly lay on the couch and dozed and read. The wedding was everything I could have dreamed for my two loves, my son and now daughter-in-law, and then some. It takes a lot of work to make an event feel effortless, and they pulled it off magnificently. As one of my cousins put it, the occasion was part wedding, part family reunion, part adventure in the woods. It was a whole weekend of festivities, from the welcome party on Friday night after the wedding rehearsal, to the ceremony itself on Saturday afternoon followed by a cocktail hour and then dinner, and then an all out dance party that went until the wee hours, at which point everyone who was still upright gathered around for a good old camp bonfire. 

Our two families, the bride's and the groom's, meshed seamlessly, with a tangible energy of love and joyfulness infusing everything. The parents of the bride and groom in particular traveled together, with our new in-laws transporting us between camp and our hotel on Friday night, and my husband being our designated driver on Saturday evening. My son had been wound tight in the lead up to the day, because that's how he is when he's concentrating on getting everything done, but he has friends who know him well, who grew up with him at camp, and one of them, Liam, an avuncular bearded Brit, who is now the director of camp and lives on site with his wife and young son, took my boy in hand. "Come with me, lad," he said on Friday afternoon, taking him by the shoulders. "There are many people here who can move the tables and set up the chairs. Right now, I just need you to relax."

My daughter Kai and niece Leisa had made us all pledge to be "the easy family," meaning we would solve logistical queries on our own, rather than having my son Raddy have to concern himself with  such details as when the bus was scheduled to depart the hotel where they had a wedding block for guests reserved (the hotel concierge knew the answer) or how to actually find the open sided lakefront chapel on the winding paths of that sprawling camp and conference center in the woods (my daughter in law had put up signs). My daughter said it best. "I think the best thing we can do for Raddy is to be happy and have a good time," she advised, "because we all know he tries to take care of everyone, and if he sees we're not okay, that is going to stress him out and he's going to try and make things okay for us when he should be focusing on himself and his bride." She was so right. And so I pulled a zen-like state of peace and calm around myself like a cozy cloak, resolved that I would just roll with whatever happened, happily letting everything just be.

When the man and I arrived for the wedding rehearsal on Friday afternoon, to be followed by the welcome party for guests who were already in town, my son came over and bear hugged me, thanking me for being "so chill." "I told Kai and Leisa that I needed to call you and make sure you were still alive," he joked, "because I hadn't heard a peep out of you all afternoon." Their response: "You're welcome." I really could go on and on about the weekend, with its sublime late summer weather and beautiful loving vibe, and everyone's fascination with the familial bond among the now grown "camp kids," who turned out in force, but I think I will just stop here, because there is really no way to truly capture how magical it all was, how perfect in the end, and now I have a beautiful new daughter in law who in truth, I have loved from the first day I met her back in the spring of 2015. She and my son understand each other. They laugh easily together. As one of my cousins who was meeting Shannon for the first time said, "They are so obviously made for each other." And I love that our two families, different as we appear, are easy and congenial, too. 

The pictures above show the setting, with the wedding ceremony held in the lakeside chapel, the welcome party and reception in the camp's St. James hall, and the dinner in a tent on Pequot Field. What follows is a random selection of pictures people took. I really couldn't choose which ones to post here, I have so many in the shared album we all dumped our photos into. The professional pictures will be better and more organized, but here's my own record of the weekend for now.


The Wedding Rehearsal and Welcome Party on Friday Eve:


Getting Ready on Saturday Afternoon:



Pictures on the way to the Chapel:  


The Most Beautiful Vows:

The Reception, Dinner, and Dancing:




Right as dinner ended and everyone was walking back across Pequot Field to St. James Hall for the dancing portion of the evening, the sky exploded with fireworks. They were so perfectly timed, and we have no idea who staged them. "Don't look at us," our newlyweds laughed. "We sure don't have fireworks money." At two-thousand dollars a minute I imagine they don't, and these fireworks lasted at least twenty minutes, right up to the moment the bride and groom took the floor for their first dance. We decided it was just more evidence of a divinely blessed union.

One more story: I carried the same embroidered clutch to Raddy and Shannon's wedding that my mom used at Rad and my wedding in 1986. Inside the bag, tucked into a small pocket, I discovered the name card for my mother's table seating at our reception. She sat at table 9 then. Thirtv six vears later I was at table 6. When Kai and Leisa saw the bag they said in unison, "Is that Grandma's handbag?" And then they both cried. They cried often that night, as Raddy and Shannon said their vows, as the bride and groom danced, smiling through tears during best man Jermaine (an ordained minister who also officiated) and maid of honor Katy's speeches. And all night we felt my mother very close by. Another detail: Shannon, her mom, and I wore matching bracelets with a single pearl, which Shannon placed on each of our wrists before the ceremony, uniting her womenfolk.