After a miserable divorce and years of feeling inadequate as a woman and a mother, I was thrilled when my sister found somebody who made her smile, laugh and feel loved.
They announced their engagement and sent “save the date” cards months in advance. Since it was a second marriage for both, I anticipated an intimate celebration followed by a small dinner with close friends and family.
When she mentioned I needed to buy a dress for the ceremony and her guest list was more than 200 people — I gasped. A full-blown dinner, dance and reception didn’t register in my mind as a second-wedding option.
As her big day approached and the grandiose plans emerged, I found myself questioning the sanity of my sister. Like most parents, I spend my days as an ATM or a Taxi Driver shuffling kids to school or sports and couldn’t understand why my sister would go to such great lengths for a second marriage. And to schedule the wedding on a weekend that conflicted with track, earth day activities, baseball practice and prom caused me even more conflict and confusion. Why hadn’t she checked my schedule first? I thought she and her soon-to-be second husband had learned that creating a life together was about the commitment, not the ceremony.
Then I arrived at the rehearsal.
The youngest (and cutest) members of her and her beloved’s tribe were the flower girls and ring-bearers. Our father and her son were “giving her away” and her 18-year-old daughter was her maid of honor. Her soon-to-be father-in-law was patient and stood up as the best man and her siblings (including me) were part of a surprise flash mob prank she was playing on her intended. Her best friends helped with decorations and details and there was an air of love, laughter and celebration – the qualities that best describe my younger sister.
The next day as I helped my sister slip into her gorgeous white lace gown, I saw she was glowing with love and happiness. And I mean literally glowing. Beyond the obvious, I asked what made her so happy. Her eyes twinkled and her mouth held a permanent smile as she told me that this ceremony and those involved were everything she had ever wanted. She was marrying the man of her dreams surrounded by all the people she loved. She felt beautiful and adored – the way every woman should feel on her wedding day (neh, every day!)
Even though she had celebrated her first marriage, the same story was not true 20 years ago. She recalled the event with a heavy heart. Not with a sense of regret, but as if she had settled for something less and allowed a dream to slip away.
Years of content were followed by a storm of upheaval. She faced her fears and learned she was stronger than she thought. She learned to be brave and take care of herself. Her most valuable lesson was the awareness that being alone is entirely different than feeling lonely. You can feel alone in a room full of people. Inside of those times, she accepted herself and found something she didn’t know existed – a sense of worthiness.
And she was never going to settle again.
The wedding and reception was the most fun a person could have. The Cubs (the couple’s favorite team) threw a no-hitter and the flash mob went off without a hitch. The minister who married them matched my sister’s wit and charm and the couple clearly knew the life they were about to build didn’t involve regret.
From the glow of my sister that day, I learned it’s never too late to have what you want. More importantly, it’s never too late to suspend your judgment and accept another’s choice. Grace is about allowing those you love to choose their own path, regardless of whether you agree or disagree. True love isn’t necessarily about youth or first choices. True love is about Powerful Perspectives that recognize it is NEVER TOO LATE to love yourself.