I was the "best man" at both my brother and my brother-in-law's weddings. It was a huge honor in each case and a great time. I'd been a best man at weddings before I got married, but it was different afterwards for many reasons.
Tommy, Kim's brother, got married a month before Maggie's second birthday. One of my favorite moments was picking Maggie up and having her wrap her arms around my neck as we danced a nice long slow dance together. We swayed back and forth together. Towards the end she tipped her head slightly and gripped my neck a little tighter. Perfect. I'm dancing and she's pooping.
A few years later we were in San Francisco for Ethan's wedding. We stayed at the Queen Anne so the girls could see where I stayed during my visits. It helped them feel closer to me when I was on the west coast. They talked about the ghosts on the fourth floor and the cookies served in the late afternoon. They remembered the chandelier and the love seat in the elevator.
Elena and Maggie were flower girls at the wedding. My absolute favorite moment was standing up front next to my brother watching my two daughters come down the aisle spreading the flowers. Elena would grab big handfuls and throw them with joy. She would watch them flutter to the ground and then grab another handful and throw it up in the air. Maggie carefully took the flowers almost petal by petal and placed them where they belonged in the aisle. She took her job as flower girl very seriously and her attention to detail showed.
At one point Elena turned around. People strained to see if she was confused and would walk the wrong way. No – there was a part of the carpet that had not been adequately covered. She walked back to it and threw a handful of flowers to cover the spot. She turned back to the front and beamed up and me and nodded.
It's just amazing that in something as simple as spreading flowers on the ground, each girl revealed their personality. It's so true that how you do anything is how you do everything.
Time for the toast. I was told that mine would be one of many and that it wouldn't be that special. To me it was special. I looked out from the stage and there was Elena. She was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the otherwise empty dance floor. My toast was similar to other wedding toasts. It talked about the two families. I talked a bit about those who were there and those who weren't. And then I made the following observation that I had made at Tommy's wedding.
When you get married you truly understand the meaning of the word "forever". Forever stretches out in front of you in a way that seems daunting. The first year that Kim and I were married, we both thought another year was a long time but forever was beyond our imagination. Every once in a while when Kim was shaking her head at something I'd done yet again, I would smile at her and remind her "forever, honey."
Forever. Such a long time.
And then we had kids. First Maggie and then Elena. And that's when you realize forever isn't long enough.
Don Novello's character Guido Sarducci noted in a routine that there are religious people who say "forever and ever". He said, "I don't think the 'and ever' is really necessary. Forever sort of covers it."
Before I had kids I used to think he was right. I used to think that the "and ever" was superfluous in the same way that "machine" is when people say "ATM machine". But when you have kids, the time goes so quickly. You look at their faces and they aren't babies any more. You blink and they no longer walk like an old drunk. They have balance and purpose when they move. Soon they are telling you "no" and explaining why you are wrong. Not long after that you realize they are right.
No, "forever" doesn't cover it. You really need the "and ever".
I came to understand that the "forever" part covered the time when I was alive watching them grow and the "and ever" would cover the time when I was dead and lived on only in their hearts. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't get enough of the "forever".
Oh, Elena. "And ever" came way too soon.