And Now, Come What May
I recently experienced one of the greatest joys of motherhood thus far: being present—completely and fully present— for my eldest daughter’s big day! Her husband is loyal, hard-working, and unfeigned; he loves her unreservedly. What more could a mother ask for? I knew he was committed when he readily accepted her extraordinary affection for a stuffed monkey she’s had since she was nine months old (she’s twenty-seven now). The doll is worn and well-loved. But he’s truly wretched in appearance, even though he recently had a makeover after our dog chewed off one of his legs. I’m embarrassed by her attachment to this lopsided plush creature who lacks a nose and most of his fur. But Matt accepts Monkey just as he does Katelyn: unconditionally.
They were married in a beach ceremony on the Fourth of July in Cancun, Mexico. It was a quaint affair with a group of thirty or so close family and friends. All of our children, apart from my eldest bonus son (who couldn’t travel because he’s on the verge of becoming a parent), were in the bridal party. Who knew an eleven-year-old boy could look so dapper in a bow tie and suspenders?
Their vows were simple and sincere, and the officiant—the groom’s brother—prepared a heartfelt speech that incorporated all the elements of what matrimony represents: A covenant born of love and loyalty, instituted by Christ, supported by family, and sustained by faith—in God and each other.
In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis reminds us that love is work:
“It is not helpful to dream of an idyllic and perfect love needing no stimulus to grow. A celestial notion of earthly love forgets that the best is yet to come, that fine wine matures with age….It is much healthier to be realistic about our limits, defects, and imperfections, and to respond to the call to grow together, to bring love to maturity, and to strengthen the union, come what may.”
I’m a planner by nature, and while I braced myself to endure Mexico’s July heat and staunchly reinforced my daughter’s wish to have an “unplugged” ceremony, nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming emotions I felt. I couldn’t hold back the tears. When they danced together as husband and wife for the first time and I saw the way they looked at each other as if they were the only two people under that palapa positioned over the ocean, I sobbed uncontrollably. I was bursting with pride at how hard they worked to bring their dream to fruition (they each worked two jobs for months to pay for the soiree). I was elated to watch them sway into this next phase of life. Watching my firstborn in a state of complete calm and contentment is a gift I will treasure forever. Almost as much as the moment I first embraced her at birth.
As you can guess from the photo with this column, Monkey did make the trip, with that photo of him by the wedding gown as a memento. Welcome to our crazy family, Matt!