It has been quite a whirlwind of activity (no pun intended) these past several days, beginning with Hurricane Matthew breathing down our necks. The trouble with hurricanes begins with their often highly unpredictable natures. A small shift in direction or intensity can dramatically change the outcome of their visits.
In Matthew’s case, his predicted path slowly inched westward with every update until he was knocking down our doors here in Central Florida with one extremely unprofessional news anchor with a questionable bedside manner warned us all that we and all our children were going to die. Seriously.
These events seem to bring out the best and worst of human nature, and I witnessed both the coming together of neighbors in the form of checking in on each other and offering help to prepare, as well as near panicked verbal outbursts of individuals vying for the last case of water or line-jumpers at the gas pumps. If people lose all sense of humanity because they waited 3 minutes longer to fill their gas tanks, and snatched a case of water out of the hands of an older woman who had none despite having many in their own shopping carriage, imagine how they would be in a true emergency.
Heaven help us if these are the same people stocking up on guns and ammunition. For a hurricane. Yes, it’s likely they were preparing for “looters”, but it seems to me that the looters would target those homes whose owners evacuated. If you’re home, they won’t be looting you. Or does that simply make too much sense?
My daughter and her boyfriend who lived further south of us and, because they live on the intercoastal, required to evacuate, drove up with their two casts to spend a few days with us. We spent most of Thursday preparing for the storm that never really came, watching too many hours of Weather Channel coverage, playing board games and binge eating.
Most people who have been through these events – hurricanes, blizzards, and the like – know that the food supplies that were purchased with the intention of making it through a loss of power get eaten as soon as the first sign of bad weather arrives. Those teriyaki beef jerky sticks don’t last more than an hour past the initial rain squall. And the rest of the snacks disappear soon thereafter. If my family ever did find themselves in a Zombie Apocalypse, we would probably run out of supplies within a week, no matter how prepared we were, because we have a serious issue with food rationing. (But I digress…)
The worst of the storm was predicted to hit us sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, so I went to bed with instructions to “wake me up if it gets bad”. About 2:00 in the morning, my son came upstairs to wake me up. When I sleepily grumbled something along the lines of a whiny teenager’s “but I don’t wanna”, he asked if I intended to sleep through a hurricane. My feeling was if I am able to, why should I not be allowed to? But I gathered my blanket and pillow and went back downstairs to the living room where the rest of the family was sprawled out on sofas and chairs, the “boys” playing video games. I ended up on the floor, not wanting to wake my sleeping girls which was a very bad idea – I quickly realized how very young I am not and how I am definitely past the days of sleeping anywhere, and am still paying the price in the form of aches and pains.
Fortunately, the storm shifted further east and decreased in intensity and we made it through unscathed. (Well, nearly unscathed, if you don’t take the bathroom scale into account.) This was wonderful news for a friend who was having a small outdoor wedding ceremony on Saturday, and was thankful that she wouldn’t have to change plans or locations.
Although the couple (especially the bride) wanted something simple and laid-back, an intimate lakeside service, this was a momentous occasion for me. It would be my first as a wedding officiant, a duty that came with my notary public appointment. I thought long and hard about my ability to perform the ceremony properly given the events of the past 5-plus months, but realized that this was definitely something I wanted to do.
What it all boiled down to for me, is that I believe in love. What better way to honor my husband than preside over the wedding ceremony of an amazing couple as they begin their married lives together? What a fitting tribute to the man who showed me what love is.
It was the perfect foray into wedding officiating as the ceremony was going to be intimate, casual, and at the request of the bride and groom, short and simple. They wanted no fuss, as the ceremony itself was merely a formality; their true goal was to begin their lives together as man and wife.
Thanks in part to Matthew’s passing, the weather could not have been better. Despite the temperature being in the 80’s, the breeze coming off the lake kept us all from sweltering in the often unforgiving Florida sun. The bride walked arm in arm with her father down the dock over the water to where her groom and small gathering of family waited. The couple repeated their simple, contemporary vows, exchanged rings, were proclaimed husband and wife, and then came the long-awaited “first kiss”.
The bride and I had spoken a few times over the last few months about my ability to get through the ceremony. While she insisted she really wanted me to officiate, she did not want to put me under any unnecessary stress. Thankfully, I was able to perform my duties without breaking down, I think partly because it was a small, simple ceremony, and partly because it was a “job”. A job not in the sense of it being a duty, but in the sense that it was a task to perform. As such, I was able to concentrate on getting through the ceremony blunder-free, which eliminated the emotional aspect for me.
“I take you to be my wife, my best friend, my faithful partner and my one true love. I promise to encourage and inspire you, and to love you always through the good times and bad. I will forever be there to laugh with you, to lift you up when you are down, and to love you unconditionally through all of our adventures in life together.”
All in all, it was an honor for me to have been an integral part of such an incredible life event for a sweet couple who deserve all the happiness they can find. I did have to come home and unwind a bit. After tamping down my emotions temporarily, it was necessary to unhinge that box again and allow myself to experience the emotions ex post facto so as not to undo all the work I’ve done thus far.
It has been quite an unusual, intense, wonderfully memorable weekend, and I am blessed to have been a part of it, with the hurricane that wasn’t and the wedding that was.
G and M, may your days together be long, and may they be seasoned with love, respect and understanding.
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