A week or so before the holidays we experienced a bit of a role reversal here at the Ryans as Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl was felled by a bad cold. He only gets sick once, maybe twice a year, but when he gets sick he gets really sick.
I enjoyed the opportunity to take care of him, since he does such a wonderful job taking care of me, and it got me to thinking about the part of our wedding vows where we promised to care for each other “in sickness and in health”. And it’s a good thing he meant his part of that vow, because it was no more than an hour or so after our ceremony when he was called to put it into practice.
But to properly tell this tale, I first need to give you a bit of back story; specifically, I need to tell you the story of my parents’ wedding.
My parents got married in July at a time when, as far as I can determine, man had not yet discovered air conditioning. So I can only imagine that, as bride, groom, and attendants stood on the altar, it was as if they were conducting the ceremony on the shifting, molten lava of the surface of the sun.
I’m not sure whether or not the heat was to blame for this, but apparently no one really ate anything before the ceremony, and so a few minutes in, as my mom described it, “people started dropping like flies”.
Mom’s brother went first and then, as my dad was leaning down to tell his brother-the best man, the one with the rings-not to lock his knees, down he went as well. At which time they had to pause the ceremony because, as the pastor said, “Man may come and man may go, but we have to have the ring,” and off he went in search of the fallen attendants.
As my own wedding grew closer and closer and took on a life of its own, dragging me on in the wake of its ever-increasing momentum, this story began to prey on my mind. Now, all these years later, I can see that things felt so big and so overwhelming, that I fixated on The Story Of The Fainting Groomsmen in hopes of finding something small that I thought I could control.
And I was not the only one using that particular coping strategy, either. Rather than think about the enormity of what was about to happen my mom fixated on finding the perfect shade of “bone” for her mother-of-the-bride shoes; my dad tried to convince us that we needed to hand-sketch all the maps from the ceremony to the reception; my future mother-in-law focused on perfecting the gift table; and my future father-in-law, after having spent the previous nine months refusing to wear a tuxedo suddenly changed his mind about five days before the wedding, and, I don’t even remember what happened with that.
But nothing, NOTHING, freaked people out more than the Unity Candle.
Mr. CFG and I thought it would be a nice addition to the ceremony to have my parents and his parents light one of the candles on each side of the Unity Candle. We meant it as a symbolic gesture of the bringing together of our two families, a symbol of the support that would carry us on as we began our life as a married couple. But somehow, something got lost in translation, because what they apparently heard was, “FLAME! DEATH! DESTRUCTION! WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!” The four of them obsessed over that candle for weeks. Mr. CFG said he even found them up in the balcony minutes before the ceremony was to begin, frantically reviewing the Candle Lighting Procedure. I feel kind of bad about it now; we’d meant it as a gesture of love and gratitude, but instead it seemed to be a gesture of a potential aneurysm-inducing event.
I tell you all of this to give you a little taste of what the emotional/stress level was by the time we finally got to the day of the wedding. Between the six of us five of us are firstborns, and three of us have what you might generously refer to as Dynamic Personalities. And, so now that we’d arrived at the moment of truth, my mantra for the day became, “HEY-PEOPLE STANDING UP WITH ME AT THE ALTAR! MAKE SURE YOU EAT SOMETHING BECAUSE THERE SHALL BE NO FAINTING AT MY WEDDING, SO SAITH THE LORD, AMEN!”
But (as I’m sure you’ve guessed), in a case of, “Physician-heal thyself!”, I neglected to follow my own directive. Unless you count swigging down an entire bottle of Donagel to calm my nervous stomach. (Which you shouldn’t.)
Happily we all made it through the ceremony, and no one was harmed in the lighting of the candles, and now it was time to relax, which in my case meant developing an absolutely brain-shattering “Relief Headache”. So one of my aunts pulled a bottle of Excedrin out of her purse and handed me two tablets. “Aha-I am going to be smart,” I told myself. “I don’t know how this medicine will affect me, so I will only take one of these.”
It was unfortunate for me that I hadn’t had that thought back at 2 in the morning when I started doing shots of stomach medicine, because by the time we were in the limo heading to the reception those two medicines and my empty stomach collided, and I became violently nauseated.
Panicked and close to tears I said, “I can’t go to the reception. I can’t make it through.”
And then, in the first of what would turn out to be many such moments my new husband calmly assessed the situation, said, “Well, I think we have to,” asked the limo driver to take us to a drug store so I could get some Emetrol for my nausea (because that‘s what I needed-more medicine!) (which the limo driver purchased for us, impressing the drugstore patrons with his completely kitted-out chauffeur uniform, including white gloves and cap), tucked the Emetrol along with some Rolaids into his jacket pocket, and, with his steady, calm, loving presence, carried me through the reception, which turned out to be a lot of fun.
Yeah-I got a good one 🙂