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On Saturday, October 1, my oldest daughter married the love of her life. It was an outdoor wedding. The day was beautiful; warm, but not too hot, with a very slight breeze. The decorations were simple, yet elegant. The bride, beautiful beyond words. (I have admit that I am prejudiced!) As my husband and I walked our daughter down the aisle I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. It was wonderful to be a part of such a special and meaningful ceremony. I had flashbacks to when she was just a child of three or four and she would pretend to be a bride or pretend to be Sleeping Beauty. She would dance and twirl to the sounds of the Sleeping Beauty ballet for hours on end or dress up in the wedding gown that her grandmother and I made for her. It always brought so much joy to my heart to watch her as she played.

On this day, her wedding day, I was filled with joy for so many other reasons. My baby girl had turned into a beautiful young woman with hopes and dreams of a future with the man she loves. Although I really already knew this, she showed me that she is creative, organized, fun-loving, and grown up. She planned the whole event with very little help from anyone else. Occasionally I would get a phone call, text or email asking my opinion and every time, I would say “it is your wedding, you should do what you want” however, I always told her what I thought after making her promise that she would not do something just because I liked it. (And, I must say that she did a very good job of doing just what she wanted!) She married a young man who very obviously loves and cares for her. What more could a mother want for her child? Together, they make a beautiful couple and have a relationship that is also quite beautiful. I am so very proud of both of them.

As I was reflecting on the day, I realized that I have taught my daughter well. She did some things that showed me that family and loved ones are as important in her life as they are in mine. She had her younger sister and a good friend sing; she had the parents walk their children down the aisle; she included her brother as a groomsman; she asked all of us if there were any special songs that we would like to hear during the reception; she copied a few of the photos from when my husband and I were married; and she remembered those that are no longer with us. As we began our walk from the breeze-way there was a tree that we passed under. In it, she placed several angels to represent grandparents and other relatives of both families that have died, with an exception for my sister. In my daughter’s mind an angel just didn’t seem fitting for her Aunt Carol. Instead, her Aunt Carol had an Eifel Tower. Paris was my sister’s favorite place to travel and my daughter knew this. Her place of honor was up front next to the trees. It was so perfect.

As we were driving back home after the wedding, I thought about my sister and how much I knew she would have wanted to be at the wedding and also of my father and how proud he would have been of his granddaughters. It made me sad and reminded me that no matter how long someone has been gone, whether it is a few months or nearly twenty years, we still miss them and still wish they were among the living. It was such a bitter-sweet thought. This sadness did not overtake the joy of the day, but, it was a small part of it.

In life, we experience joy and sadness. We cannot appreciate one without the other. It is the joy in life that helps us live through the sadness and the sadness that makes the joy even greater. The day of my daughter’s wedding will always be remembered with a joy that every mother feels when they see their child happy. It will also be remembered with just a small bit of sadness because of those that were not able to be with us. I would like to think that they were watching us from above and smiling. I would also like to think that the breeze that happened just as they were pronounced man and wife and caused the glass in the backdrop to sway and clink was a sign of their approval.