The bride looks at her parents and tears come to her eyes. She knows she shouldn't cry because she has contacts in her eyes and she's nervous that maybe she'll cry them out or they'll get stuck or end up somewhere behind the back of her retina, which will make her rather miserable. But she can't help it. Because the enormity of what's happening is suddenly dawning on her. These are the people who raised her, from the time she was a mere baby until this day. The people who made sure she was fed, well-rested, bathed, had a clean diaper and felt safe and secure.
These are my parents, she thinks. The ones who heard me crying on the baby monitor and woke up many times each night just to make sure I was okay. The mother who I mercilessly kicked in the womb, not realizing that I was hurting her. I forced her to go through the agonizing pains of labor and delivery. This is my father- who looked down at me with such joy when I was born. I always wanted to live up to their image of who I could be. The question is- are they happy with me? Or are they disappointed?
This is my mother, who painstakingly mashed up freshly cooked sweet potatoes, carrots and yams to make a mush that she could feed to her child. She didn't believe in giving her daughter food that came out of a can that could be purchased in a store. This is my father who sang to me and rocked me and read me innumerable books. Who read me "Hansel and Gretel" and who always held my hand when we walked home from shul.
These are my parents, who had such hopes and dreams for me. The ones who cried for me when bad things happened to me and rejoiced with me when good things occurred. These are the parents who were proud of me for accomplishments both acknowledged and unacknowledged. These are the parents who glowed with pride whenever I did something, who didn't know that secretly, I felt inadequate- like I could never live up to them. That's because they're pretty amazing parents and they've survived, worked on, worked through and gotten beyond a lot of pretty heavy stuff that would have felled lesser humans.
These are the parents who attended my kindergarten graduation, where I wore a beautiful lacy dress covered with blue flowers. Who celebrated my Bat Mitzvah with me and laughed happily as I motioned to the entire room and talked about idols and filth and Jeremiah. Who come to my 8th grade graduation and heard me say my part in the Ketata, something about a kettle, a river and a bird. Who attended my 12th grade graduation, where they had commissioned a custom-made white gown for me since that is what I was required to wear. Who sat in the audience on a Friday afternoon as Mr. Dachille called down blessings upon us and told us that he hoped Yahweh would turn his countenance toward us and shine down upon us.
They saw me go to college and listened to my triumphs and defeats at school. I went all the way to New York and they missed me but also kept in touch with me, always sending me packages and goodies and acknowledging my special events. They were thrilled with everything I did well and were there for me when I was sad and in pain. They've listened to me and given me their sage advice through everything. They told me that I would end up happy. That it would be okay in the end. That God loved me. There were times that I didn't believe them.
And here they are and they're going to walk me down to the canopy where my groom is waiting, hoping. We hope for a future that thrills us and makes us dizzy with joy. Where we choose to mutually respect each other and love each other and work towards a better tomorrow. We have thought a lot about this and we realize that it takes work, very hard work, to make a marriage work. Luckily, we both want to try- and we want to try with each other. Luckily for me, also, my groom is a saint. He never invalidates my feelings; he always tries to understand me and care for me, whether with his words or his presence.
The familiar, everything I've ever known, is contained within these parents, so much hope and good will written on their faces. They'll be looking at me and wishing me luck on this momentous journey. I'll be overwhelmed with emotion- with the thought of what I am leaving behind and what I am becoming a part of. I am happy to marry Heshy but sad to leave my parents- even though I know that I'm not really leaving, that I can always come back to them. I know they'll want to see me at various occasions during the year, whenever I am able to take the time off so that can happen.
It will be hard to leave them, these parents of mine. Although I love Heshy very much, there is always an element of uncertainty to a marriage. Just the newness of it, how it is different and I must get accustomed to it- all these strange and peculiar sensations that now can and will occur. I'm leaving my house and entering another house, one that will be created by the both of us together, by the giving of ourselves. This is a special thing and I hope for it to be a beautiful thing as well. But it is also a trifle awesome. I feel like I stand before God and I am judged- and I wonder, am I found wanting? Will You give me happiness, God, or will You test me before I attain that?
It is very special to me that God heard my prayer. I feel like You are listening, God. I know that I have not been perfect. I know that I have committed many sins, ranging from those I am aware of to those I am not aware of it. I know that I am not deserving of the goodness that You will bestow because no human can deserve the bounty that You bless us with. I try to serve You the best way I know how but I always doubt and wonder whether perhaps I am wrong in the things I choose. I hope that You will clarify things to me so that I can serve You properly.
The day that I will be married is the day that I will stand with God, really feel at one with God, as important a day as the one that I was born or the one that I will die. I know that I will sense this deep form of connection and trepidation, the fear that comes of the immensity of the journey that I am about to embark upon. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I really feel like Moses at the Burning Bush or perhaps like the Jews at their revelation at Sinai. The day that I will be married is the day that both Heshy and I will see God- and live. Because in a way we will die. Our old lives, our old selves, our old sins- all these will slough away and die. We will be reborn, reunited. Our souls will be rejoined. And so we will die and live again- and thus we will have seen God.
I am looking forward to seeing God. I have so many things to say to my Creator. I have so many questions to ask, so many "Whys?" There are so many things I don't understand. There is so much to pray for. There is so much to thank Him for. There are my grandparents who are not at my wedding - and it hurts me that they aren't there in the physical sense. I want my Grandpa and my moonlit grandmother to dance with me. I am very sad that they won't be able to do so in the flesh. Heshy says that they will come to our wedding anyway and they will look down on me. Maybe that is true.
God has given me such an amazing, twisting, confusing and special life. I have not understood it; nor have I thanked Him for it. Often I rebel against it. Often He has made me angry. Often I have felt that the struggles He gave me were far too much for me. But I feel very blessed that He gave me Heshy to see me through them. Heshy is a very calming influence on my life. He is like an anchor. He is very stable. This is good, because I am like a candle that flickers in the wind. One moment I am burning brightly and the next moment my light has been doused. Heshy is like the everlasting match.
So I will stand and look at them and the moment will seem surreal. Because these are my parents and yet I am leaving them. This was my life and now it is no longer my life. How many tears have my parents shed because of me! I am sure they have gone to serve some useful purpose in Heaven.
I think that maybe all the people I love, or who have loved me, will be there secretly, somehow. I think God will gather their spirits and make me a necklace to hang upon my neck that bears their love. It will be invisible and weigh very little and I will be the only one to know that it is there.
I am excited to be united with the other half of my soul. I am also awed by the immensity of what is and what will be and what has been. It's not for nothing that God is called "I Am That I Am" or "I Will Be As I Will Be." God is the everlasting cycle, the turning of the clock. I am very small in the scheme of things, and yet I feel as though the whole world will stop as I walk down the aisle. Because every step I take brings me one step closer to completion- as I walk the path to the Garden of Eden.