At an alter two years ago I stood surrounded by my friends and family. I resisted this day. Not because I didn’t love the man I was about to give my vow to, not because I had any particular fear, or cold feet about it. It was a decision we made, together, years before based on testimony from those who had ventured down the isle before us – many who found themselves disillusioned by ugly divorces and broken hearts. “Unnecessary”, or some variation, some had called it. And up until the moment I looked around, accompanied by those who had brought me life and through it I couldn’t deny that my non-belief in matrimony was being dispelled.
I arrived at this day, not because I’d had a sudden nuptial-epiphany. It occurred to me in Christmas 2005 that my parents were aging. For years my Mother and family had inquired if we were ever going to get married. “Unnecessary” or some variation of the answer I’d respond. I was delicate – not wanting to appear uncaring for their belief in a tradition that they nearly all had taken part in.
It was encouraging that they held such a high regard for an institution so many of my friends disparaged. But as I watched my Mother standing over a steaming pot of Tamales, as she had for a multitude of Christmas eves and my Father appearing non-phased by the overexcited grand children asking if they could open their gifts – that all of a sudden tradition seemed to be something impermanent. It would require successive generations to carry on these tasks and to reinvest in their importance for them to continue. It was in that moment that I realized if I changed my mind about the “necessity” of matrimony those that I would want most with me on that day, might not be here.
I became emboldened through my melancholy and before I knew the words were coming out of my mouth, I asked my family “What do you think about a wedding?” My sister in law Gina stopped stirring the beans, my Sister Rocki looked up from the table, and my mother, who is a stroke-survivor, did her unsuccessful best to not contort her face before she began to cry.
I recall these memories now that I live in Texas, far from my family in Sacramento.
I remember the lovely April day, rainy on the outside, sunny on the inside. We decided to make it a surprise wedding – another story in itself. But after 16 years, I was fairly assured that Rob wouldn’t decline the proposal.
In the moments before our walk began, I peered down from the balcony at the gathered guests, array of family-favorite wedding cakes and Mariachi musicians and I was assured I was doing the right thing.
And in that moment, when I said “I do”, it was though I was responding to the question, “Do you believe in marriage?” “I do.”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.