Yesterday our family had a wedding. We've had 2 other weddings, the first being my niece in 2008, the second being my daughter in 2010. This wedding was my sister's son, her oldest. The oldest boy. Wow! The past week had been crazy for me. Work, weather, baking wedding cookies, keeping house in order and preparing for the wedding. Katie asked me if I would join her and her girls the morning of, would I please take the getting ready pics. Of course! I loved every minute of it. Watching their nails get done, snapping pics, watching the hair and make up, snapping pics. Going back to the hotel, the girls putting on their dresses, helping Katie get into her dress, snapping pics. I knew that Katie and Benjamin were getting married that day, but it didn't occur to me all day. Make sense? I was preoccupied. I woke up Saturday morning, my guys still sleeping, while putting on a pot of coffee, I began to get weepy. Childhood memories of Ben were creeping in. I said enough and was off to take girly getting ready for a wedding pics. After Katie had her gown on, it was time for me to go. I had to get home and get ready myself as well as my guys. I looked at Katie and she looked like a Princess. A true Princess. We hugged and then it hit me. Tears started to fill my eyes. In a few hours she was marrying Benjamin, my spud.
Benjamin was born my senior year of high school. I couldn't wait for him to arrive, I would be an Aunt. I would be the best aunt. He would be my buddy...forever. Ben was 3 weeks old when I watched him for the first time. My sister and brother in law went out on a Saturday night. I was in heaven. Oh I held him, rocked him, changed him, bathed him, changed him and bathed him and me after he projectile vomited on the two of us. I even woke up in the middle of the night to feed him and in the morning too, to give the new parents a break. I couldn't wait to get home from school every day to see him. My mom was his daycare and I still lived at home. My sister would come after work, pick him up and hug him and ask, "Did you get a new perfume?" Only because Ben and I would nap on the couch together almost every day. He changed our lives. Things were different now. I would witness my dad coming home from work, a union carpenter, get on his hands and knees and crawl around on the floor with this baby.
When Ben was old enough to understand Christmas and the Christmas specials, I was the one that watched Rudolph with him. My sister called me and said she wouldn't be home, "Rudolph's on tonite. I'm not going to be home. Ken will be here, but he doesn't care that it is Rudolph. Please watch Rudolph with Benjamin." Of course I would do it. Together we curled up on their couch, side by side with a little bowl of some sort of snack and watched Rudolph. Sometimes I would pick Ben up from preschool when my mom wasn't able to. Ben and his preschool best friend would tell me how they were going to be Air Force Pilots when they grew up. One time during preschool, I watched Ben for an evening. His first Scholastic Book order arrived, I read him, "I'll love you forever." I barely made it through the book, by the end tears were pouring down my cheeks, Ben just hugged me and said, "It's o.k. Aunt Shi-Shi, I love you." As he got older we did more things, we have too many "Thumb Spit" Swear Secrets too count. Conversations changed from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to "Don't tell your mom I'm telling you this. But one time..."
I could just go on and on. It takes a village to raise a child and I was very fortunate to be in that village.
The ceremony was beautiful. The words spoken, from the heart. The love Ben and Katie have for each other is so very obvious. Weddings are crazy, so many people to talk to, so many things to do. The bride and groom made their way around the room after they ate dinner. They reached our table, Ben gave me that look he always gives me and then came the hug...followed by the tears. The words I wanted to say, the words I had rehearsed over and over wouldn't come out. The ones that did make it out, "I love you."
You see each time I looked at Benjamin yesterday, I didn't see him as the handsome, successful 27 year old man that he is, I saw him as that little baby I waited all day for to arrive. The 4 year old that came into my work dressed in his Ghost Busters jumpsuit complete with the back pack with a bouquet of flowers on Valentine's Day for me because I was alone that year. The 5 year old on his first day of school. The cub scout that was so proud of the Pinewood Derby car he made. The young teenager I would take to the demolition derby at the fair. The Valediction of his Senior Class, The college graduate.
Ben and Katie, Congratulations! I love you both so very much.