Last Saturday, I met Jonah and Amelie, my oldest granddaughter, in a city park in Piedmont, California. Poppy was off at a soccer tournament, but Amelie, who had been exposed to Covid, was quarantining and couldn’t play in hers. Feeling Amelie’s disappointment, and having received my booster, I wanted to offer her a bit of fun. On the way to the park, we stopped at a local shop and bought food and drinks. As we walked over to the park with our bags of goodies, Leo, my grand dog, bounded along with us.
Amelie had brought along a soccer ball, and she quickly headed to the grass, where she began dribbling back and forth. It wasn’t long before she and Jonah were both on the grass, kicking passes to each other, with Jonah shouting ill-received instructions: “Keep you toe down,” “Be sure your left foot is even with the ball!”
I tried walking Leo along one of the park’s paths, but each time we were about to lose sight of his family, he balked, and insisted on turning back. After a few tries, I gave up and we returned to the bench, where he happily watched the ball traveling back and forth, whining every time Jonah glanced our way.
After a few moments, I noticed that to my far left, down a hill, near the community center, people were scurrying around setting up tables for what I guessed was a wedding. With nothing better to do, I watched intently as chairs were nudged into place, long serving tables decorated with flowers, and a refreshment booth, with pitchers and glasses, was set up.
Suddenly, the wedding party emerged, the bride, of course in white, the rest, both bridesmaids and groomsmen, in black. What an odd choice, I thought. The day was overcast, and in combination with the weather, the profusion of black cast a pall on the event. Rather quickly, the wedding photographer signaled everyone to follow, and the group trooped off into the woods to pose.
When I next looked back, a single bridesmaid caught my eye. She had remained behind, and as she walked back and forth, I saw her mouth moving. Every once in a while, she looked down at her hand. It took a moment before I realized that she was rehearsing her toast, which is why she looked down at her phone from time to time.
It wasn’t just the words she was practicing, however. She was in full-monty mode, her arms fluttering and swooping, hands turning this way and that, head nodding. Observing this young woman, completely caught up in rehearsing, oblivious of everything else, I became caught up in the joys of weddings, where friends and family are all focused on celebrating two people coming together in union. We are social animals, I thought, and what happier moment than when you find another person with whom you look forward to spending the rest of your life.
I never know when a moment will capture me. Before I caught sight of this young woman rehearsing, I had felt a bit out of sorts, watching Jonah and Amelie from a bench, feeling the chill in the air, registering the overcast sky. And now, thanks to this bridesmaid rehearsing her toast, everything had brightened. I felt the festivity and joy of the wedding, the blessing of the union, and the strength of the bond between the bridesmaid and bride, as I watched the young woman walking to and fro, rehearsing heartfelt words she had channeled from deep within herself, which she would soon share with everyone celebrating this marriage.