Sunday, July 14, 2013

One year ago today...

A year ago today, I was standing in a gazebo in Chesapeake City, Maryland.  Anticipation and excitement added extra sparkle to the water that was the backdrop.  Row upon row of guests stood to catch the first glimpse of the bride as she made her grand entrance. Countless eyes gazed toward the end of the grassy aisle leading down to the gazebo.  As soon as I saw movement behind the tall bushes, signalling that she was on her way, I turned my head to watch the face of the groom.

That moment.  The expression on his face as he sees his bride for the first time.  The complete vulnerability of a man as he is momentarily rendered breathless by the reality of what is about to happen.  When the heart and soul of a person shows in the tender eyes, the awe-struck smile, and the softened gaze as he looks the woman about to become his wife.

I recall being on the recipient end of that kind of connection, that kind of tunnel vision when I stepped out of the limousine on my own wedding day.  The moment when I gazed down the aisle at my groom as he eagerly awaited my arrival; I felt like I was the only other person on the face of the earth.  On this particular day, one year ago, I wasn't watching my groom's face however, I was watching my 'baby' brother's.

Jason and I have been connected since his arrival in January of 1987.  Being nearly 6 years old at the time, I thought it was pretty awesome that my parents had brought home a real-life baby doll whom I could care for and love.  A lifelong bond was formed, and strengthened over the years.

However, our years of sibling-ship had periods of adoration mixed with annoyance as well as aggressive anger.  We fought with each other as siblings do, but we also talked and laughed and played and cried together.  When our emotions were awry and displaced and confused as we navigated life as children of a broken marriage, we turned to each other.  When we swam all summer and played Hot Wheels and Nintendo, we did so together.  As his powerful swing sent the baseball sailing over the outfielder's head, I stood in the stands; cheering him on as he rounded the bases.  When he did his impressions of Fire Marshall Bill and Cartman, I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks.  When I needed a partner in crime as we conspired against our brother Geoff, I turned to him.

He was my 'Jakey' {he'll probably kill me for that one}.  My buddy, my refuge when I needed a smile or a laugh, and the person whose heart I tried to protect most fiercely; even moreso than my own.

As I 'grew up' and moved away to college, we still found ways to chat and connect.  It was strange to move back home each summer, he 'grew up' in those pockets of time I was away.  He had dates, a job, and a circle of friends.  We were still close, but our wavelengths were becoming a little less in sync.  I wish now I had shown more interest in the experiences of his life, rather than focusing so narrow-mindedly on the experiences in my own.  But even when I wasn't as 'in tune' with his life as I had been in our earlier years, I still could rely on him for friendship, a laugh, or an accomplice and support for whatever shenanigans I had gotten myself into.

I can't honestly say I remember the first time I met Juliana.  I wish I did, but then I wonder if the reason I don't is because it's one of those things that would make me feel guilty about the way I had acted.  I wonder if I was indifferent because at the time I was in a strange place in my own heart, or ruder than I intended because I had pangs of jealousy and distaste toward someone who'd captured the attention of my baby brother {not out of dislike, but rather from a protective standpoint}.

The year they were together before Randy and I got married gave me the opportunity to witness their relationship in its 'new' phase.  Since I was still living in PA, Sunday night dinners at my mom's gave me a chance to watch the two of them together.  I grew to quickly admire and appreciate the connection they shared, even as high school 'kids'.  Jason's personality and humor is something that I'd always looked to as a source of comfort; and a place where I felt 'at home', because I often use humor to diffuse stressful and upsetting situations.  Juliana quickly recognized his eccentricities as the unique qualities that made him 'Jason', appreciated {most of} them for what they were, and she still hung around! {*smile*}  I couldn't put my finger on it, but something about their relationship just 'clicked'.

When they were both in college, and I was figuring out life as a 'wife' and then soon after, as a 'mom'.  Despite each of our busy routines and lifestyles, I was still in touch them; hearing about their experiences and listening as their relationship grew through the natural ebb and flow that transpires during a long-distance relationship.  I traveled back to PA several times over the years I lived in Colorado, and observed how that each time I returned, their commitment to 'go to the distance' had deepened.

College graduation paved the way for their careers to begin, and soon life found them at the threshold of their first apartment together.  A sweet puppy wriggled her fluffy way into their hearts, and from the phone calls and texts we exchanged, things seemed to be on course for 'the next step'.

I remember the day I answered the call in February of 2011.
"Sooo....I bought a ring today."

I don't know how I managed to speak during the rest of the conversation with my mouth in a perma-smile, my eyes leaking tears of happiness, and my heart excitedly thumping in my chest.  Aside from my own engagement, I don't think I'd ever felt such a rush of exhilaration and love.

A little more than a week later, another call.

I dashed down the hallway at work, excitedly shouting {it was after school hours} as I ran into my drama club's rehearsal.

"I'm sorry I'm late!  My baby brother just got engaged!!!!!!"  I passed my phone around the circle of girls so they could all see 'the ring' {the boys were indifferent as they leaned back against the risers}.  I don't remember the rehearsal that day, but my heart was on cloud 9.

Planning began, and 'the' wedding so many of us had been waiting for was officially 'in the works'.  The distance between Delaware and Colorado never seemed so far, but the phone calls and emails from both Jason and Juliana filled my heart with even more happiness as they filled me in on the details of what they'd accomplished.  Feeling 'connected' during their wedding planning, despite the distance between us, meant more to me than I think they even realize.

Before we knew it, it was 'that moment'.  I stood across the gazebo from my brother, watching tears pour from his eyes, wearing a smile wider than the sun's rays could reach, and bouncing up and down as his excitement bubbled over in his heart.  His excitement permeated throughout the crowd, building up some kind of an electricity that allowed everyone there to feel the love connection the two of them shared.  In every detail, in every word spoken, and in every action they made; they personified the quote, "today I marry my best friend".  My memories of that day always circle back to the moment he saw her, how she wiped the tears from his cheek, and how I could actually feel their connection.  Magical, inspirational, and encouraging.  The way marriage should feel.

Jason will always be my 'baby' brother.  He's my buddy, someone I can always go to for a smile or laugh, and one of the people whose heart I fiercely protect.  And now he's a husband.  He's Juliana's best friend, he makes her smile and laugh {and sometimes shake her head}.  Their hearts are both fiercely protected--by one another.  I'm blessed to know that my baby brother is in hands more loving and understanding and caring than my own; and blessed to have a sister-in-law who has grown to become the sister I never had.  I don't think I've ever witnessed a more amazing display of love, admiration, and connectivity between two people than I have when I see my brother and his wife together.  They've taught me a lot more than I think they realize, and I'm ecstatic that they're celebrating their first of countless years together as husband and wife.

Congratulations, Jason and love for you both is immeasurable.

the guys may have laughed, but he didn't care.

{not to be outshined by us bridesmaids passing out the tissues}


and this.moment.  <3

No comments :

Post a Comment