Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Staying Afloat

Here's some advice for anyone who may be part of a Big Event such as my dad's wedding last weekend:

You will experience a lot of emotions. A lot. Emotions of all kinds, from joy to nostalgia to grief to anticipation to happiness to irritation to...well, a lot of emotions.

And even if the predominant emotions are (as they were in my case) peace and joy, there may be a moment when all those emotions coalesce and suddenly pour out of your eyes. This may happen just as the ushers dismiss you from your row, when everyone in the church is turning around to see how the groom's children are reacting to this life-changing moment.

Here is what you do in that case:

Look around for your cousin, whom you've known since you were born even if you haven't really talked to her for years and years. She will walk up to where you are trying unsuccessfully to stem this sudden cloudburst of tears and she'll hand you a Kleenex. Then she'll say "This is perfectly understandable--I miss your mom, too," and she'll talk to you about other things. Her grandkids. What it's like to take girls shopping. The drought. She'll look you straight in your tearstained face and keep talking as if holding a conversation with a spouting fountain were the most natural thing in the world.

Then after a few moments of what looked and sounded like ordinary chit-chat but was actually family therapy, you will hiccup for the final time, stuff your sodden Kleenex into your clutch, give that wonderful cousin a hug, and wonder how anyone managed before God invented families.

In the emotional flood that is a Big Event, they are your flotation device.

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