weddings (and divorce)

I decided to write this blog as a way of owning my selfishness.

With the dawning of spring comes the season of commitment.  And with my sister’s wedding less than 48 hours from now, wedding season has provoked in me both fear and great joy.  Great joy that my sister has found a partner with whom to create memories and share a future.  Fear that I…. Fear that she…. Fear of what this means for us.

Over the years some of my dearest friends have gotten married.  Childhood friends, college friends, grad school friends, friends of mine, friends of my husband’s.  And, come to think of it, two of our dear friends have married each other!  But now, with the proverbial shoe on the other foot, I am beside myself with a multitude of feelings.  I have been trying to steady myself and remain composed. I tell myself that I am not the first person to feel this way.  I tell myself that I will gain a brother and I quietly repeat gentle phrases like that to calm myself as needed.  But still I am conflicted.

It wasn’t until I was in the process of reading and re-reading familiar books and searching for the right words to say to give away my sister and toast the new couple, that I found an anchor in an Edwidge Danticat short story titled “Caroline’s Wedding.” In Danticat – whose writing gives voice to Haitian women, Caribbean women, and composed women like me – I found this and I exhaled:

Caroline’s face, as I had known it, slowly began to fade, piece by piece, before my eyes.  Another woman was setting in, a married woman, someone who was no longer my little sister. […] I couldn’t help but feel as though she was divorcing us, trading in her old allegiance for a new one. (Krik? Krak! 1995: 205)

This, I have come to realize, is the un-talked about side of weddings and marriages. This is the selfishness.  Today I own this selfishness.  Marriage is sacrifice. Marriage is compromise.  I realize that this is not just a warning for the bride and groom.  I realize it is sage advice that fortifies family members like me with the strength to smile even when we feel as though the sweetness of the new union is simultaneously an amicable divorce, a trading of old allegiances for a new one.

It probably goes without saying, but I will say it anyway.  My sisters were my first friends and are my dearest friends.

This was a blog post for posterity.


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