“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life-to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?”
― George Eliot, Adam Bede
I cried at the wedding rehearsal.
I was sweating in the late Spring heat lining up the wedding party behind a curtain to the brides’ instructions.
I made notes on a crinkled paper flapping in the breeze on a clipboard: two female ring bearers, one flower girl, a little boy holding a wooden sign I would soon inscribe with “Here Comes The Brides” in chalk, followed by a bride with her parents on each arm, and a second bride also donning a parent on linked elbows.
I cued the music, “Rejoice” by Il Divo.
“This song is very dear to me,” said one of the brides.
I whispered instructions to the kiddos. “Take your time walking down the aisle. Sit here when you reach the end.”
The young ones were into it. They would do well. Now it was the first bride’s turn to walk the short strip to the altar.
I looked at their faces – these two brides who were my dear friends. The two beautiful ladies had been together for years, but only now had the opportunity to marry in our state thanks to the 2015 Supreme Court decision granting marriage rights for all. They chose to speak their vows on their farm in front of a charming barn surrounded by tall green trees. Goats bayed in the background.
I held the curtain back. One woman turned and made eye contact with the other in line behind her. Her gaze read we’re doing this and I love you and all the burrows and ridges they’ve traversed together over the years passed between them translated in a single glance.
They looked back at me to cue their turn to walk down the aisle, and I lost the slim grip on my emotions.
For other weddings I rehearsed (even my own), the couple had been together for a few years, usually followed by a year long engagement, and then the wedding.
This one was different.
Here I stood running through the processional of a wedding for two women who were forced to wait years for this moment. They were practiced in their relationship. They had already rehearsed weathering the thunder and sometimes flash of lightning we experience when we love another.
It was only now they were practicing ceremony. The rest – the truths of a marriage – they figured out long ago.
“Don’t you dare!” one bride said to me watching my tears give me away. Her tears followed suit.
I thought about how our own country and its fellow citizens robbed them of a special kind of commitment – spiritual, legal, financial, physical, and emotional – too long denying a fully functional life in society without shame or harassment. As if to say they could come this far together, but no further. We were now practicing closing that gap.
The first bride finished walking to the altar, kissed her parents, and turned to watch her love join her.
I held the curtain back for the second bride and watched with tear-soaked eyes as she rehearsed meeting her soul mate at the end of the aisle.
I did not see the beginning of a new chapter in their story. This was their happy ending.