My sister got married last weekend and I have been struggling to find words to sum up everything I feel. The sensory emotions and feelings are clear: "She looked amazing!" "I feel so happy!" "J's such a great guy!" "EEEEEE!" ...But going deeper I find myself almost at a loss as to how to express how moved and genuinely blessed I feel.
It's a truth generally accepted that weddings make us gooey. Watching two people right at the beginning of "the rest of their lives," declaring their love for one and all--come on, it's romantic. But when it's family up there at the altar, or on the mandap as the case may be; when it's your parents "giving away" their baby girl; when your mom tears up when she hears that her son-in-law to-be promise to, "above all," always make your sister laugh; when, in lieu of a traditional toast, your dad--your dad-- sings the lullaby he used to sing to you and your sister every night to all of the assembled wedding guests--well, it all, of course, takes on an even more poignant tone.
For the whole weekend, and thereafter, my mind has been flooded with images of my family. And then, always, images of my sister and me growing up. Neither of us was the type to dream about a wedding--not sure why that is, but I look back fondly about it. We didn't dress our (few) Barbies as brides and we didn't practice kissing on the backs of our hands. Didn't occur to us. We had dolls but we chopped off their hair to see if we could be hairdresses to the stars. One time I reportedly told my dad that I wanted to one day get married on the big new wrap around porch we built when I was 10, but then my sister and I promptly returned to catching frogs and jumping on the trampoline.
I was always the more "girly" of the two of us. When I was a teenager my dad famously and repeatedly told our family that I suffered from "Mall-aria." He was not exaggerating. But time changes things and the compartments we put ourselves in--especially in a family--often prove to be not so rigid, far more fluid: Looking at my sister last weekend, her tomboy tendencies and penchance for "Value Village" duds aside, she was the most stunning, original bride I have ever seen.
The wedding was perfect. In addition to being the union of my sister and her now-husband, it was a family reunion for the rest of us. My cousins and I reminisced about summer sleepovers during which we braided each other's hair and got giddily excited for Putt-Putt golf and Olive Garden dinners; my aunts and uncles got to meet my children; my mom had had three of her sisters in the same zip code for the first time in a decade...all the wonderful trappings of a wedding. It's one of the biggest things that is giving me the "my-sister's-post-wedding-blues": I am constantly amazed by the love, warmth, and interconnectedness of my family and, as I get older (read: cheesier) I miss everything--both the people and the memories--more and more viscerally every day. My time with these people who I have the fortune of calling my family has made me who I am and when I think about it, I'm not all that surprised that I'm having such a difficult time articulating what it "mean" to me because it's just too expansive...it would be the same as trying to explain "who is deepa"...
But more words thrown into that pot only begs sentimentality. The day I have it in me to truly explain the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, raw emotion, loyalty, and glue of a family is the day I burrow into writing that good ole Great (American) Novel, right? More immediately, it struck me how much--especially with it being my sister's wedding--a bride and groom sort of leave their friends and family behind. I remember the day after my own wedding, en route to Tahiti, with--quite literally--not one single care in the world. Though I missed my family after an amazing week with them, the word "sad" would never have occurred to me. This time, on the other side of the equation, I am sort of hung-over, sad for the wedding to be over, confused that it is back to reality, melancholy about the assembled family going in every direction.
We all, in an instant, go back to what we were doing. And it sometimes feels like all the energy, passion, nostalgia, and wonder--it sometimes feels like it was all a dream.
I was amongst the first of my friends to get married. I was 26. By the time I was 27 I was pregnant with D. I'm now 32 and have 3 little crazies. Sometimes it feels like warp speed and sometimes, as any mother knows, it seems like the day will never end. But I can still remember exact moments from my wedding. Nobody had told me to preserve those moments--few people we knew at the time of our wedding had even attended that many weddings! But etched in my mind are certain snapshots from the day, from a certain smile on my mom's face when she saw me in my wedding sari, to the way my cousins could make me laugh, to, of course, the way S looked at me that day.
It is always a little like going into a time machine, attending a wedding. You can't help but think about your own.
The moment when all the rest of it begins.