There was a moment at JV’s wedding on Saturday night when I began to cry.
The ceremony had finished. We had moved inside for the reception. I sat at the bridal table facing the room. Entree had been served, and a second round of speeches had commenced.
The bride’s father had died many years ago. Her’s is a lovely, tight-knit family, all of them quality people. A photo of her father had been placed on the first seat during the ceremony outdoors, and given pride of place when we came inside. His twin brother, the bride’s uncle, stood up to give a speech.
It was a lovely speech, not just a good speech, but meaningful. He said all the conventional things well, but it was when he made reference to his brother and the family he left behind that it became something more.
I listened, facing the family, and saw as tears came to the eyes of the two brothers. In normal circumstances that might have been enough for my eyes to glisten in their own right. On this occasion they did much more than that.
I was moved by their story, and by the obvious love that bound them together. At the same time I found myself thinking about mum.
Suddenly I missed her. The words spoken reminded me of her. Around me a roomful of happy people had gathered together to celebrate the wedding of their friends and family. I was one of them. I realised though that if ever I should find myself in the groom’s seat – increasingly unlikely – then my mother would not be there. It seemed so ineffably tragic to me in those moments. I knew there was nothing mum wanted to see more than her son happy, safe, and above all, loved. I felt as if I had betrayed her by not managing that before she left.
Tears came to my eyes and fell down my face. I felt exposed to the room, and so turned my head to make the tears less obvious. I struggled to control myself, and once or twice achieved it – but then the tears would come again. They felt as if they came from a long way down inside me. I felt them in my chest and through my throat. I wanted nothing more than to cease crying, but in a perverse way I was also grateful for them.
Earlier we had stood in the gardens of the winery as dark clouds loomed in the distance. It was a pretty aspect, as my photo’s show. I stood in my allotted place as the ceremony progressed. It was one of the better wedding ceremonies I have attended – sincere and true, and without the long readings that rob some weddings of their momentum. The few readings were interesting and short – no more than a minute each one. Then they were married.
We made it inside not long before the rain arrived. In Melbourne the rain pelted down in almost record levels. It was less plentiful where we were, but just as hard.
I recovered from my episode at dinner, but felt different the rest of the night. I felt a little separate, which upset me. I wanted to celebrate the wedding of my friend, but felt part of me removed from it no matter how I strived otherwise. I mixed and spoke to people. I danced for a while. I drank little, and after having my hands on the bouquet earlier had the garter looped in my fingers before it was snatched from me.
It was a good night. What struck me was the exaltation I saw on the face of my friend. Normally so undemonstrative he seemed lit from within. I shook his hand looking at him. So that’s what it’s like, I thought. I was delighted for him, but fascinated too. It was like I had caught glimpse of something I had never believed in. I can see it now.
Then the night was over. The rain tumbled down and people scurried beneath umbrellas to catch their bus or taxi, or to their car. We too, back to the house we had taken, a few bottles of wine clutched in our hands.