On the same day my parents celebrated their 28-year anniversary, my best friend got married. In 28 years, my best friend and her husband will also celebrate their 28-year anniversary. I haven’t even been on the planet that long, so it’s a bit difficult to wrap my mind around.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing my best friend for a very long time. We went to school together starting in kindergarten. Even though we didn’t start hanging out until high school, she was always a ray of hope amidst all those slimy, pre-pubescent delinquents that were our classmates – always willing to offer friendship to the kids who needed it most. On many occasions, I was one of those kids. And perhaps I was too shy back then to really say thank you to her. So now, every single day I try to be there for her just as much as she has always been there for me, even when she didn’t have to be. It is an honor to be her friend.
It is a unique experience all its own to see your best friend fall in love. It is also extremely difficult to see your best friend find a new best friend. It is difficult to not feel replaced. It is difficult to feel your own relationship shift and change. But it is also a gift in its own way, and it is extremely hard to explain. It’s hard to explain what exactly each tear that falls from your eyes as you watch your best friend walk down the aisle is for. Is it pride, happiness, sadness, a new emotion all its own? And in the moment, you can’t put your finger on any of these things. You can only take in as much of the experience as your senses allow in that moment to be reflected on later. You cry, but you don’t think about why you are crying – only that you hope it doesn’t ruin your makeup. You find yourself in a tug-of-war, struggling to figure out who to look at – your best friend, the groom, her sister next to you, the priest. You can’t focus on just one thing – the photographer capturing candids, the words the priest is saying, the sniffles coming from her mother behind you, how much your feet hurt, how much you can’t believe you’re worried about your own feet when your best friend is getting married right in front of you.
How could any man possibly be worthy? I don’t know, but somehow he is.
When I first met him, he surprised me. He wasn’t at all like other boyfriends she had in the past. He was eager to get to know me and our friends – eager to get to know us because we were a big part of her life, and he wanted to be involved. Her friends were his friends because I bet he already knew he was going to spend the rest of his life with her. And though she can take care of herself, I could see that he wanted to protect her just as much as I wanted to protect her, too.
Many months later, when I had lunch with her and she told me that he had a ring, I was surprised but weirdly not concerned. Because when she told me the news I could see that there was no doubt in her mind that this was it for her. Later, when she asked me to be a bridesmaid, I was overwhelmed and so, so happy. I would have done anything – be a reader, usher, simply a guest. But the fact that she wanted me – they BOTH wanted me – to be a part of their special day was an honor. So I walked down the aisle, hoping not to fall and trying to make my smile seem natural and not crazy for the photographer. But then, it was her turn and she was probably thinking about so much more than that. Here was my beautiful friend, arm in arm with her father, who coached us both in volleyball in middle school, and she was looking at her best friend in the world. He was looking right back at her, most likely terrified, but also happier than he had ever been, and I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat.
I’ve never felt true love, but now I think I’ve witnessed it in action.
So, how was the wedding? A few people have asked me, but I, of course, don’t give them this whole response. Instead it’s, “It was beautiful. They looked so happy together” – an accurate answer, but perhaps overly-simplistic.
Also, the dance floor was insane.