I went to a wedding this weekend … a beautiful fairy-tale affair where the bride looked like a princess and the groom, her charming prince. It was my son’s wedding, a gala event and the culmination of weeks of finding dresses, shoes and purses; making appointments and going to get hair, manicures and pedicures done; shopping for bridal shower gifts and going to the shower; and making arrangements for and hosting the rehearsal dinner. It was a whirlwind.
When it finally arrived, the day dawned dark and rainy, a frightening prospect since this wedding was to be on a hillside, in front of a castle overlooking Seneca Lake. As if by magic, four hours before the late afternoon ceremony, the sun came out and gave warmth to one of the few remaining temperate days of the season. Perfect!
The time came and the groomsmen stood alongside my son, all of his high school buddies who always congregated in our garage, the designated ‘hang-out’ place. I loved those boys. I still do, but what a shock to see them in their tuxes, bringing with them careers and marriages – a rude awakening since in my mind they were still the boys in the garage. As I looked at these handsome men, I began wistfully reminiscing about their teen years, of all the possibilities before them then, possibilities replaced by the hard-core realities of lives needing to be lived, money needing to be made and careers needing to be forged.
The wedding was truly magical, with lots of wine to drink, food to eat, and dancing to be done. I thought I would dissolve when it came time for the mother-son dance, and indeed, a few tears threatened my mascara, but it wasn’t the gush I’d anticipated.
We stayed over – too far a drive, too much wine and food – and after a country-diner breakfast, set off for the 60 mile trek home. I was feeling sort of numb and I couldn’t figure out why. Until – I wasn’t! It came on me explosively. One minute I was gazing out the window, the next I was gushing – sobbing – with a hole inside me bigger than the Grand Canyon. Thoughts catapulted around in my brain: clips of my son’s childhood and teen years, his first job at Tops, spinning out the first time he drove in snow, being afraid of a little toy figurine of a man with a snake: “I don’t like dat man with dat snake,” his 3-year-old self said, and so many more memories and the feelings that went along with those memories. And now – all over. That’s what I felt. An unexpected and overwhelming surge of the emotions of a mother sending her son off to another phase of life and saying good-bye to what once was.