So, my middle son got married a few weeks ago, and it’s taken me this long to process what happened, though it seemed inevitable almost from the beginning. These things have a way of sneaking up on me, no matter how well-prepared I think I am. The conscious mind accepts the reality without much argument while the subconscious stirs about deep inside somewhere, plaintively begging for a few more moments, hours, days to comprehend and cope with it all.
He was born in an Air Force hospital in North Dakota, delivered by a brusque flight surgeon who wore cowboy boots (odd, but not particularly relevant). I was babysitting a B-1B bomber on alert at the time, but my commander let me drive over for the delivery and look on unhelpfully in my flight suit, figuring the Russians probably wouldn’t attack that day. They didn’t.
Growing up, he was the easygoing one. The natural athlete and the ready wit. The charming one who always seemed to be smiling about some private joke only he fully understood. The negotiator. The kid with so many gifts who made a point of not taking life too seriously. The cat who always landed on his feet.
And then he found his partner for life. A brilliant, poised, soft-spoken young lady who always seemed to be smiling about some private joke only she fully understood.
They met at college. They were both athletes (he football, she soccer), and their love of sport will always figure prominently in their relationship. Their courtship and engagement spanned several years, and they planned their future together carefully and patiently. They waited to marry until they’d finished their undergraduate studies and my daughter-in-law completed a demanding course of graduate work that culminated in a PhD in Physical Therapy. My son began work toward his Master’s degree and teaching certification. In the meantime, he held down two jobs to cover school expenses and save up for the wedding and the initial costs of setting up housekeeping.
They married in Illinois, a few miles from their old college on the northwest edge of Chicago, at a church where they’d both attended and helped out with the youth ministry. It was a simple, intimate, beautiful wedding, in much the same tone as my oldest son’s a few years ago. One of the groomsmen had to bow out at the last minute, and my son asked if I’d step in. That meant a lot to me. He could have asked any number of other friends.
I once again had the honor of reading scripture for the ceremony. Where my oldest son and his wife chose Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, which affirms the power of unity, the strength of commitment between two people and their extended family, my middle son and his wife selected I Peter 4:8, which acknowledges the challenges of life and the power of love to overcome adversity. Two pairs of young people, two different but firmly intertwined ideas that set the tone for their weddings. Two wise and beautiful choices, acknowledging God’s presence at the heart of their respective unions.
Like his brother before him, my son and his new wife finished their ceremony by filling a vase together with two different colors of sand, sprinkling the gold and white grains into interwoven threads of color, once separate, now inseparable, together more lovely than either alone.
There are no words, poetical or otherwise, sufficient to communicate my joy and pride in them. They’re good, strong, smart, caring kids, and they love each other incandescently.
What more can a father wish for? That they will enjoy a long, blissful life together, I suppose, smiling in tandem at many private jokes only the two of them will fully understand. There will be challenges and tears, of course, but the words of the Preacher and the Apostle give me reason for confidence that God’s grace will enfold and sustain them through it all:
Two are better than one…above all things, have fervent love for one another…if they fall, one will lift up his companion…for love will cover a multitude of sins…