Reflections on a Wedding Rehearsal

My sister and her fiance asked me to be a part of their wedding. Of course, I was honored that they would include me in this momentous occasion and I agreed. This was months ago. The blessing that I was to read was just the right mix of general platitudes and specific details, and the blessing I have had for weeks.

At the rehearsal dinner, however, I began to cry when my turn came to stand up and read the blessing. I had been practicing, but I don’t know what came over me. The officiant jokingly remarked, “Now make sure you do that tomorrow.” Yet, I didn’t want to cry during the wedding. I was afraid to cry.

Why, you may ask?

Part of it was certainly nerves. I was terrified of breaking down during my sister’s wedding and being unable to finish the reading. I was all too keenly aware that this was her day, and that by crying I would be stealing the spotlight and would be changing the mood of the ceremony that she had carefully worked out.

Yet, it was more than just a type of stage fright. I am so incredibly happy for my sister and for the man she married this past weekend. His family and he are wonderful people, and he is a welcome addition to the family. So, you’re next question is probably this: what is so wrong about shedding tears of joy at a loved one’s wedding? Well nothing. And yet everything at the same time.

I have every reason to cry happy tears for my sister. I remember her growing up and being fiercely independent. I remember when she got her first tattoo and hid it from more conventional family members. I remember when she bucked my grandparents’ Old World notions of femininity by backpacking throughout Europe . . . alone. I remember the woman that was happy to be by herself, surrounded by close friends and family members, and who was happy to speak her mind if she disagreed with any of them.

So, for her to meet a man that she loved and who loved her in return, a man for whom she would commit to the hard and long prospect of marriage–full of work and full of blessings–, a man that would love and cherish and honor her; I was ecstatic for them both. Yet, I was still afraid to cry.

This was the first family wedding that I had been to since my divorce, and it was the only wedding, since that dark time in my life, for someone close to me. In many ways, I have moved on since then and I have emerged from that painful phase of my life. I am far happier now, in hindsight, than I ever was during my marriage or while my ex and I dated. All my aunts and uncles, even some of my sister’s close friend, knew that I was a divorcee. If I had cried, how many of them would have assumed that those tears were for the loss that resurfaced in my mind while reading? How many would have assumed that I was just the bitter, old divorcee that was without hope and useless to bring to parties? How many would have assumed something worse?

And that was why I was afraid to cry at the wedding. If I had cried, they would have been tears of joy, but I didn’t want them to be confused with tears of loss and pain. I didn’t want my divorce to overshadow the light of my sister’s marriage. I wanted it to be pure and holy and full of life and light; I didn’t want darken her day, even through someone else’s misunderstanding.

So, I held it in during the actual ceremony, gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek when I finished, and returned to my seat.

And left the crying to my dad when he gave his toast.

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