I went to a wedding Sunday. Actually, I was the best man, which was an honor given the respect I have for the groom, Alan Goldman. The event was described as “casual” to assist attendees with wardrobe, but the ceremony was anything but.
I hadn’t been to a wedding in years, but I do recall considering the ceremony as an obligation and the reception as the real reason for going, especially if there was a full mass. I’m sure a certain segment of the male population would agree, but Sunday I was suddenly not with them.
The event was intimate, with all 60 or so guests within 30 feet of the joining couple. My position was about five feet away, facing Judy, the beautiful bride with the sparkling eyes. I didn’t get much direction except from a wedding planner who said, “I’ll come get you when it’s time for you to get Pat,” (Judy’s sister) and, “Don’t drop these.” I was supposed to walk the Maid of Honor down the short aisle, “about halfway through” a song I had never heard. I started walking about four notes in… Twenty seconds later, Pat, Alan and I stood looking out for the bride while the music played… and played. It was probably only 4 or so minutes, but long enough for all of us to imagine a woman in a white-cr?me dress lowering herself out a window, but then Judy appeared and the Groom exhaled.
A female JP was at the helm for her 602nd wedding since she started in 2004. “They’re all different,” she told me afterwards. This one sure was.
From my vantage point I could see every face in the crowd and every one was paying attention. Dave, a long-time co-worker of Alan, was in the back with his Misty, and he was beaming. Alan’s 3 sons and daughter-in-law were right in front of me. The young men were understandably pensive. As someone who’s experienced it, seeing your Dad get married is a bit surreal.
Alan and Judy’s “I Do’s” were strong, but as the carefully chosen and beautiful vows began to flow, Alan ascended an emotional Heartbreak Hill, where strides get heavy, courage is tested, and many runners are broken…
The only certainty was that Alan was taking the hill. It may not have been as graceful as he would have liked, but as I heard the words. No, as I felt the words, I understood just a little of what he was feeling and had no doubt that if it’s ever me up there, I will stumble “up that hill with everything I’ve got…” and it will be wet with tears.
When most of us men get married in our 20’s or 30’s, the whole thing is a bit routine. It’s what you do. It’s what everyone does. You have your whole life ahead and marriage is a checkbox of sorts. School. Job. Marriage. House. Kids. Etc. But now, when you likely have less of your life ahead than behind, and you’ve with the woman, the whole love thing is on a completely different level. For one thing, the choice is made from a position of much more (well, some more) maturity. Not only do you savor every day with her, but every moment, because you’re not taking any of them for granted…
Just like on Heartbreak Hill when the cheers and encouragement of fans push runners up the hill, Alan had family and friends pushing him and Judy’s loving hands pulling him. He finished strong.