In high school, one of the things I prided myself on was being a good friend. It’s a skill that may have literally saved my life when, for a second time, all of my “friends” asked everyone I knew to choose between them and me. Someone chose me. I hadn’t known her long, but I was nice to her, and one summer when she went to sleep-away camp, I wrote her 15 letters. And the combined “they,” they didn’t write her once. So she chose me. And it changed my life.
I still have friendships where I put in most of the effort. Where I am “the good friend”–the one who calls, the one who writes, the one who remembers. More and more, though, the people I’m surrounded by are the good friends. I think about them, and I care about them, and I love them dearly. I love that they forgive me when I don’t respond to emails for days, and that they keep inviting me to events when I’ve turned down 10 invitations in a row.
It’s really nice to have the chance to step back and appreciate some one. (And because I’m a good Irish Catholic/Jewish mother in training, it’s nice to truly feel guilty for being the one who doesn’t call.) This week, I’ve not only been appreciating the people in my life who are the good friend to me, but I’ve been truly amazed at how they are the good friend to so many other people.
I lift my glass (one of the last G&Ts of the summer) to all the good friends out there.
I started drafting a post yesterday about mourning. No, I’m not already progressing from “wedding planning” to “old, married, and probably going to die soon.” But mourning has always facinated me, and this week seems like a good one to reflect.
Specifically, what makes a good eulogy? A week ago, I went to the funeral of a wonderful woman who was a docent at my museum. She was delightful, always smiling, and the type of person who always put a smile on your face, no matter what you were doing. I felt awful at this funeral—I mourned the fact I never really got to know her (although I’ve always liked her). I felt glad that despite only knowing her through work, I recognized 25 people at the visitation. I was proud of the community our docents have created, and glad that 4 members of our staff came to express our love for her and our sorrow for her family. (Even more proud that other staff members and volunteers were attending the funeral mass the next day.)
As I was getting ready to leave, one of her friends (and another of our docents whom I like but don’t really know) said that Pat did not look right in her coffin. She wasn’t smiling, and Pat was always smiling. This woman wished to be more like Pat, to take the hurdles life throws at you, and to smile, radiating joy. I don’t know a single person without at least something to smile about.
Ted Kennedy’s death, and his incredible reputation as one of the greatest eulogizers of our time made me think even more. What is it that makes a great eulogy? What makes one heartfealt acknowledgement of grief more accessible than others? (Like museums, I’m confident that eulogies need to be accessible.)
I got some news last night from one of my friends that made me think about this more, and made me want to write immediately. There are so many things in our lives we need to mourn—the passing of friends, missed opportunities, stories of lives past. One thing that I think makes a eulogy so powerful is acknowledging the good and the bad; our own misery and the ability to commiserate with friends; the beginning of a clean slate. Eulogies help us move on, or at least, truly great eulogies do. My wish for this weekend is to find a proper eulogy, and help start anew.
Are you mourning anything? What is helping you start fresh, or what helped you make your peace with something in the past?
I’m shamelessly copying a letter from this week’s “Dear Prudie” column on Slate. It’s just too good not to pass on. And I hope it makes us all feel a little better about our mother-in-laws.
I’m getting married in a few months, and the preparation has gone smoothly, except for one detail. For the cake, we are limited to certain flavors because I have allergies to some common ingredients, including a severe reaction to chocolate. My fiance’s mother and sisters flew into a hissy about it when they found out. I was bombarded with almost daily demands that I choose a chocolate cake. Not even my bridal party could convince dear mother-in-law that it was out of the question. My fiance told them that ingesting even a little chocolate could put me in the hospital. But they say the cake is “for the guests” and that I’m being too controlling. Now my future mother-in-law and her daughters have said that they will refuse to enjoy the wedding without a “decent chocolate cake.” I fear how these women will act toward me once I’m family. How can I pacify this impending riot?
I admire you for resisting the temptation to order chocolate cupcakes for them and put strychnine in the frosting. Ah, a case where the bride is behaving normally, while those around her are demanding monsters! This gruesome group takes the cake and sounds like something out of the Brothers Grimm. Maybe they want to be the first on their block to have the wedding reception segue into a funeral cortege. Mother-in-law and her daughters are free to dislike the wedding and make themselves look like a bunch of brats having a tantrum. The best weddings always feature insane antics so the guests have something to talk about on the ride home. The way you deal with them now, and in the future, is to serenely float above their ridiculous demands. If the cake question comes up again, just say with a smile, “Myrna, I understand how you feel about chocolate, but we won’t be having it at the wedding, so there’s no point in our discussing it further.”
I’m not entirely sure where to begin, but this seems like one logical place: we’re married!
The wedding was almost two weeks ago, and it was wonderful. My husband has asked me not to post pictures of him on the blog, which means I probably won’t be doing wedding recaps since they’d be a little lopsided.
Immediately after the wedding, we left for our honeymoon in Seattle which was wonderful. They had a crazy heat wave (105 on Wednesday!), but it was awesome nonetheless. We haven’t really had a chance to settle into married life because we’ve jumped from the wedding directly into a crisis with our landlord. It’s been one hell of a first-week-back.
I intend to get around to vendor reviews—my friend M over at summerdcbride is already starting on hers as she’s booking them, which is awesome. I may wait for our pro-photos to jump into that, so I’ll have at least a few wedding details to share.
What’s been keeping you busy the last couple of weeks?
We’re skipping ahead because I’m still not sure what to do for my Something Borrowed. And I have many choices for my something blue.
I’ve mentioned before that last week was a long week at work. My uber-boss is a wonderful woman whom I like very much. She called me into her office following a staff meeting, and handed me two gifts. One she announced I should wait and open with O. The other, however, I had to open now.
It had all sorts of delightful goodies—little miniature bride and groom action figures (currently living on my monitor at work), bride chapstick, and a few other silly goodies. The last thing I pulled out is my silver six-pence.
Unfortunately, the awesome uber-boss can’t come to the wedding, but I’m thrilled that she’ll be there with us in some way. Or as she said, “you’ll know I’m the pain in your heel.”
Favors (and bows) wine tastings galore and pedicure #1.
When you leave out all the printer troubles, it seems downright blissful, yes?
I think “something new” is kind of a gimme. (Dress, shoes, necklace, bracelet, earrings, wedding band, makeup, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…)
Before the days when the average wedding costs the same as the average salary, your something new was a way to splurge and express hope for the future. The more I think about my official list, the less I think my dress fits the bill. Honestly, when is my wedding dress going to be pulled out to remind me about how exciting and full of love our wedding day was?
I want my something new to remind me of that on a regular basis. Miss Cowboy Boot blogged over at Weddingbee about a terrific tradition. You and your beloved write love letters which you seal in an almost-time capsule with a bottle of wine. When things get bad, and the marriage hits a bump in the road, you open the time capsule, drink the wine and read your love letters to remind you of why you wanted to get married.
I like that idea, but I want that memory not just when times are bad, but all the time. I want something that I will see and use on a regular basis, and I want to think “I wore this when we got married!” every time.
I think my earrings will fill that role for me. And I am confident that every time I put them on, I’ll think “These are the earrings I wore at our wedding.” (After all, I think about the earrings my mom bought me in advance of my senior prom every time I put them on.)
Weeks ago, I started thinking about my “Somethings.” I don’t know that I’ve made too much progress, but I have tons of ideas. One reason I’ve been struggling a little is that I think each of these objects should be separate (i.e. no borrowing something old). I’m also not sure whether these objects should all be worn/carried by me, or if it is enough to have them included in our wedding.
Something old is meant to symbolize continuity with your past. I love this meaning for a couple of different reasons. First of all, while my marriage will be new, my relationship will not be, and I think the seven-plus years we’ve shared are a pretty good foundation for our life together.
I have seen some interpretations of “something old” as a way to help a bride stay grounded with her family while joining a new family, and loosing her name. I’m gladly changing my name, and I have no fears of loosing my side of the family (couldn’t if I tried), but I do think it’s a pretty interesting interpretation.
I have a couple of options for my “something old,” including my antique engagement ring; and the chuppah we’ll be married under, constructed from my great-grandmother’s wedding dress lace. When my older sister got married, our mother gave her an old embroidered handkerchief. My mom recently told me that she has one saved for me to carry on my wedding day too, and I couldn’t be happier.
While it was mostly sentimental and ornamental for Kathleen, I know that it will be functional for me. (Kathleen might have kept her cool, but I sobbed on at her wedding, and my dad had to pass up his handkerchief for me.) I’m ecstatic to have something so special to wipe my (happy) tears away.
What are some ways you’ve honored that connection to the past, or what was your something old?
With less than two weeks left before the wedding, we’re officially in the home stretch. Of course, we still have a ridiculous amount of stuff to do, but I’ve started outsourcing (sorry, mom), and I only have three days left in the office before some well-earned vacation time. I actually feel less stressed than I did this time last week. Getting a major festival (successfully!) out of the way at work certainly does wonders.
Said Festival is part of why I was MIA for a week, but there was lots going on. The fourth of July brought with it a dress disaster, some wedding productivity, and last but not least, an exciting 2:30 am wake up call and a rendezvous with the Takoma Park fire department.
That’s right, we awoke to a massive blaze in our parking lot. When the fire department successfully quenched the flames, this is what was left of our apartment’s dumpster:
Needless to say, even as we get closer to the wedding, things have settled down quite a bit. What were you up to last week?
Earlier this week, I started talking about some of the ways our ceremony will reflect both of our heritages. This is one of the few details we’ve known we’d include before we were even engaged. It was an easy choice for us. (Well, O didn’t really have a choice.)
You see, I’m the Irish Catholic girl that comes with her own chuppah. A chuppah is the canopy that we’ll be married under. It represents the home a new couple will build. It is open on all four sides to welcome your guests, but also so your family and friends can support you.
When my sister and her husband were married, my mom turned the lace from her grandmother’s wedding dress into the base for their chuppah. Since August 3, 2002, I have known that I would be married under that chuppah, regardless of who I was marrying or where. (It might have been awkward in a Catholic church, but I was never anticipating one of those.)
We’ll need to build the frame, and support the lace with a wider section of tulle or muslin. We need to get cracking on that, but it’s one of the many pieces of this ceremony that I’m unbelievably excited for.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture to share with you, but I’ll try to get one soon.
What about you? What ways have you honored your differences?