on its surface, it was simply a beautiful wedding.
the bride is one of those wonderfully perfect people. she cares about everyone around her, does incredibly selfless things for her family, friends, and community on a regular basis, and just lives a life that leaves no room for finding fault in her actions, persona, or beliefs.
she’s just great.
and what was ultimately apparent this weekend was how elated her entire extended family was that such a beautiful person found true love in someone as warm and honest as she is.
and in that context i think that this side of my family, my father’s side, was able to break through some persistant barriers of communication and community that have held their place in the family culture for years on end.
you see, every family has its quirks.
every family has its sadness and its history, good and bad.
it is rooted in the first generation, who grew up together, shared lifelong experiences, and navigated the trials and tribulations of growing up, adulthood, work and love, and now bring their offspring into the game during its fourth quarter.
on my father’s side, life’s battlefield has its casualties.
the past has held a grip on the future. as a result, my relationship with my cousins has always wanted for a strong dose of familiarity or closeness; we just really never got to know one another the way a big irish family should.
now, time has passed.
my generation thinks for ourselves.
we hold no attachment to the family’s bumps and fumbles.
and as a result, within the setting of a wonderfully happy occasion, and with everyone together for the first time in years…our second generation crossed the rivers in between, forging connections that will form the foundation of a large and tight group.
we planned to see one another again.
we caught up on each others lives.
we shattered our perceptions of one another…took the varnish off of the images our parents built for us of our “perfect cousins” and saw each other for what we are.
young adults; all normal and happy and smart and funny.
we got drunk together, and we bonded.
and while all this was happening, our parents observed from across the hotel bar, from the reception table a few feet away, with a happiness and excitement you could feel and see in their eyes.
they watched us walk across those barriers and just get to know one another. saw us leave the past where it belongs.
heard us treat one another like family.
and then they joined us. danced with us, and with one another. laughed with us, and with one another. drank with us, and with one another.
they joined the family. all over again.
so when i look back on the wedding that may have changed it all, i can’t help but feel its importance to a family long in the making.
my cousin had her day in the fullest, and steps into an endlessly happy life with a wonderful man that i’m proud to call family.
but part of their legend may be the reunion of an entire family.
the birth of a different future.
for that we’re all forever indebted.