I don’t know if you’d call it officiating, but I do.
I was there when she met him, there when she decided, against all odds, to marry him, there when she walked down the aisle in the gown I sewed for her, satin and lace. That gown. My first. The one I made when my kids were not yet trained to stay out of the sheet-covered dining room while I sewed, and Daniel walked in with that damn can of Coke, ripped open the tab and spewed brown soda all over that satin, dripped pop into the curls of that lace. I didn’t say a word. Just wadded it all, yards and yards of it, into huge soft snowball of very expensive fabric, and tossed it in the garbage. Drove myself back to the fabric store, and bought it all again. With my own money this time. So maybe you don’t call it officially officiating, but when she walked down that aisle, satin train edged in lace, the long cuff of one of those satin sleeves embroidered with hers and his initials, in blue, on the inside, something even she didn’t know I’d done, easing down the aisle to strains of Pachabel’s Canon, music I selected for her, for just this moment, well, I sure do.
Nine years later, she was walking a kindergartner home from school with a toddler in a stroller, and he, well he was still doing what he always did, playing the part of everybody’s best friend, savior, even, if he could make you believe it. He made her believe it. He made everybody like him.
Except me. I bought the children pewter cups with their initials on them, his last name theirs. I kept her close, even when I moved. My friend. My confidante. To whom I told everything, even the altercation I had with her now husband that made me know what
no one else seemed able to see, that he cared only for what he himself needed. Just now, he needed her. He needed those kids. He needed that job that took her away from all her friends, plopped her in the country where she’d never been, gave him the opportunity to work and travel and grow. Gave her oh so much time to settle in. To believe. To trust in him, who I always feared was never worthy of anybody’s trust.
Nine years later, I still wasn’t swayed. My opinions of people don’t generally change. But after nine years, in my role as unofficial officiator, I might’ve said they’d made it. Certainly everyone else thought so. And some fifteen or sixteen years still later, we all knew they’d settled in for the long haul. Hell, they’d made the long haul. Kids headed to college. House on almost paid for. Retirement in the offing. They might travel, to Italy where she’d always wanted to go. They might buy a camp on some small lake up north, where he’d always dreamed of living. We’d have campfires under the moonlight, and he and I would pretend to be friends. Sometimes you just hate to be right.
But the same way I officiated at their wedding, I officiated at their divorce. She tried. She tried in ways that made me cringe, ways I can’t even tell you about, to keep him home. But he went. Anyway.
I never got to see her new life, become the woman I always knew hid inside of her, because I didn’t live long enough to officiate at her rebirth. I see her from this other side. Making a life. Happy with herself in a way she never was with him. (I never see him.) Loving a grandchild he’s never seen.
I made a lot of wedding dresses for a lot of brides. But hers was my first. It’s tucked away still, in the attic of her new little home. Tied in a box, cleaned and stored. I don’t know what for. She wouldn’t dare let anyone else wear it. Not now.
But maybe someday. Maybe someone who doesn’t even remember the people whose initials are are laced inside that blue heart, will slip that satin cuff around a delicate wrist, and have the happy marriage I sewed stitch by stitch into that satin and lace, for her.