Getting speeched

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Lillian: Cliffy needs to get speeched again!
Me: Why do you say that?
Lillian: Because he needs to eliminate the potty language!
Me: (Thinking ahead to SAT scores ….) Wow! Lillian, nice word – eliminate. (And equally nice and careful articulation.) Do you know what that means?
Lillian: Yes! HE NEEDS TO STOP SAYING POOP AND PEE AND ANNOYING ME!

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What’s love got to do with it?

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Sunday, I had the honor of attending a wedding of a long-time friend. Our last names started with S – so our lockers were next to each other throughout high school. It was a small girls’ school. Alphabetical was as complex as it needed to be. So with a “Hi my name is,” a friendship was born.

Yes. That’s a prairie blouse and braces. I loved that shirt. I think I took this photo on a self timer. I can vaguely remember us trying to maneuver like that in 7 seconds or something. I know I printed the photo.

I can tell you that like many friendships that begin in adolescence, we had ups, downs and somewhere in-betweens. Sometime after I graduated from college, we lost touch for a stretch.

One New Year’s Day, I was at mass, and the priest made some comments about how and who we love, and asked us who we were missing most in our lives, blah, blah. It’s all a blur. I walked out of there and knew that I had to find her and reach out. So, I did. She reached back. I remain grateful. That was at least a dozen years ago. Time flies.

Over the years – long separated by many miles – we’ve laughed and shed tears. And have been there for each other. There’s been sickness and health, life and loss, grief and joy and a little of everything else that finds its way onto the colorful spectrum of this dramatic comedy we call life.

So, in what seemed like the blink of a very teary eye, 32 years of friendship happily brought me to that moment: witnessing two lovely people recite their carefully planned nuptials, surrounded by the people they love. Together they’ve already faced some trials – the kind that separate the men from the boys – and have emerged victorious. And they are indeed warriors: ready to tackle the world together. Beautifully. Lovingly. Thoughtfully.

I found myself moved to tears countless times. The beauty of the bride. The glowing pride of the groom. The happiness of their families. The joy of friends. Children singing and dancing. Beautiful vows and the groom stepping on a glass. Carefully chosen food. Cake pops and custom cocktails. A serenade by a close friend. Toasts with depth. No detail was missed. It was all so very personal. So very lovely.

I soaked in the surroundings and said a prayer of thanksgiving as I watching my friend thoroughly enjoy her day. And I didn’t – for a split second – take a moment of it for granted. When her youngest brother (who once stood in my kitchen and assured me – only a handful of years ago – that he probably wasn’t the marrying, fathering kind) sat next to me glowing and sharing lovingly about his wife and sweet baby daughter, I was officially a goner. (Especially since we had prayed for him very specifically with that in mind.)

On top of the palpable joy, there was fun. That girl knows how to throw a party. Although I am most often one very upbeat, happy, more-than-slightly goofy woman, I don’t really break loose and have as much fun as I should. (The irony of that statement in this case is that I wanted to dance more at the wedding, but my back is still making me pay for the “fun” I had sitting with my 10-year-old in the front car of wicked roller coaster two weeks earlier. Fun gets those annoying ironic quotes because once the memory of the joy of the ride was more than 10 days old – and my back was still killing me – “fun” officially got pummeled by pain.)

I brought my camera to the wedding but left it in the car. I really didn’t want to see the day through a lens. A few times I uttered that I was going to go out and get it, and Richard looked at me like I was nuts and told me to relax. I snapped a few sweet Instagram shots to share with friends and family. My parents were so pleased to see them – texting me thanks for sharing and cheering her on. My mom called early the next morning to get details, to gush over the beautiful the bride was and tell how handsome her new husband is and how gloriously happy they look.

That’s because they are. It’s the real deal. I can’t wait to see the official photos. The few I’ve seen are really beautiful and clever.

So what’s my point to this rambling? Life is a gift. Time is a treasure. And real friendship is so completely worth hanging on to. So do it – if you don’t already.

And if the question is: What’s love got to do with it?

The answer is: Absolutely everything.