My Sister’s Wedding

My little sister got married last weekend. She married a great guy. They dated a long time and have a nice life together. It was a joyous occasion that went off without a hitch. And thinking back on it, I want to claw my own skin off.

I wanted her to marry him. I even helped him secure the ring. I was so excited. But once the proposal happened, I found myself whaling alone in bed one night. Even as I sobbed uncontrollably, I could feel some incarnation of myself stepping away and peering at me in disbelief. “What is wrong with you?? Why on earth are you crying??”. 

I reasoned that it was misplaced grief- my aunt had just died and clearly, I was overwrought and confusing life events. But eventually I realized it was something else.

 My sister had moved away five years earlier and I had felt abandoned when she did. It was a good move for her but it meant that our relationship changed drastically, and her marriage meant that it would never change back.  However melodramatic, I felt that I would never have walked away from the bond that we had as sisters and yet, she did.

 Is this normal? Do normal people feel this way about normal life events?

 All through the wedding-planning season, I stressed. And as I stressed, I bitched. My girlfriend and I threw an engagement party and I stressed. After the engagement party, I stressed about the bachelorette party. What should we do? How much will it cost? How can I possibly make something cool enough? How can I possibly make it fun?? How much will it cost???

It was fun. Perhaps not the epic bachelorette tour de force that one would hope, but it was fun. And when my sister left town again, I cried.

 Is this normal? Do normal people feel this way about normal life events?

 Then it was the real deal- time to plan for the wedding. My search for a dress in the color my sister had assigned me kept me up at night and gave me the shakes. I threw verbal grenades at the poor guy I was dating, who made kind (albeit patently ridiculous) suggestions as to where I might look. When that was settled, I chased down relatives for family photos and spent an entire holiday weekend scoring and editing a slideshow and then proceeded to get hysterical over how the thing would get transported and played.

I agonized over travel plans, photo booths, wedding toasts, appropriate jewelry, accommodations and anything else I could possibly throw in there.

 Is this normal? Do normal people feel this way about normal life events?

 More than anything, I stressed about the family. My family is too weird for this. They won’t get it. They won’t let it happen. They’re too weird. Ever since I first fell in love, I was aware that I could never have a wedding. My parents got married in blue jeans in their living room with a few friends present and my grandmother, horrified, had run out for a cheese platter. They have never seen the point in pomp and circumstance. And this was no exception.

 When my sister announced her engagement, my mother said “But you’re already engaged”. After much confusion, it turned out that the fact that my sister and her beau were clearly going to stick was sufficient to have them engaged. When corrected as to the tradition, her only remark was “Oh. They didn’t do that in my day”.  And so went the catch phrase for every wedding tradition of which she claimed obtuse and blissful ignorance; of every custom that predated her own birth “They didn’t do that in my day”. And so it was my fault when my parents had to reschedule the midnight arrival the night before the wedding for an earlier flight because, how were they to know there would be a rehearsal? “They didn’t do that in my day”.

 How were these people, these people who buck tradition like electrocuted cattle, who moved across a continent to escape their families and spent the entire year and a half leading up to the wedding lamenting the obligation to see those people, how were they going to let a wedding happen??

 Is this normal? Do normal people feel this way about normal life events?

 But they did. My sister very calmly held their hands through the whole process and they gave her away, and they toasted and they danced. And what more had been required of them anyway? What more would I have expected had it been my wedding? I guessed it was the complaining and opining leading up to the event that I couldn’t take, but my sister had missed it all, as she was the bride and lived far away.

 And when the day came, I did as my parents did- executed my duty with grace and sincerity and wondered at how it was all unfolding- even for us, even in my family.

 Is this normal? Do normal people feel this way about normal life events?

 I smiled and spoke and toasted and danced and laughed, and even carted off a much younger groomsman (you mean those weren’t the wedding favors?). But in the end I realized that I had been no more than a wedding guest, a non-essential.

 And that’s where all the stress and agony had come from. I wanted so much to be a part of it, so much to be important to it, to her. But our relationship had changed and it was never changing back.

 Is this normal? Do normal people feel this way about normal life events?




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