If you are lucky or blessed enough, you get to be awarded the title “Mother of the Bride” (or M.O.B. for short) for at least one day during your life. It means that you are not only the mother of a bride, but the mother of a daughter, one of God’s greatest gifts. Being a M.O.B. is a singular honor and not without its moments of terror, exhilaration, worry, joy, exhaustion, delight, disbelief, and magic.
My daughter Grace recently married the love of her life and looking back on that day, I have to say it still seems a bit surreal to me, because it was a perfect day and exceeded all our expectations. You plan and work for more than a year to make it the best day ever, not only for the bride and groom, but for your guests, and making sure that 100 family members and friends are happy, well-fed, and enjoying themselves makes for a certain level of stress. However, significant quantities of alcohol and an amazing resort staff who fulfill every guest’s needs does help you feel blissfully less tense; so does seeing your daughter so happy.
The emotional kaleidoscope that spins through my mind as I recall the moments of the day inspires a rainbow of gratitude for me – grateful for my loving family, grateful for the extensive network of authentic friends who made the effort to travel to the wilds of New Hampshire, and grateful that my husband and I had the financial resources to help give Grace and Matt the wedding of their dreams.
A friend of mine who has held the M.O.B. title told me that the best part of being a M.O.B. is realizing that it is not just a celebration of the bride and groom, but a celebration of your life. You made this happen, she told me, with the choices you have made and the friendships you have nurtured. I had never thought of a wedding in this way, but she is right – all that is good in our lives was there for me to witness and hold and love at the wedding.
Grace and Matt asked me and Matt’s Mom, Peggy, to give reflections during the ceremony. My reflection follows. Better than anything else, it sums up how being a M.O.B. has affected me and how it communicates how much the heart can hold.
On behalf of Bill and myself, I would like to thank you all for traveling near and mostly far to share in the joy and magic of this special day and special place. It truly means the world to us that you are here and we can’t thank you enough.
Now, I would like to address Matt and Grace directly.
Matt, I knew that you were a keeper when, during Grace’s second hospital stay for her kidney, you absolutely refused to leave her side, not in the ER, not in the Recovery room, not even in her hospital room when I kindly suggested that you go home and get some rest. You also insisted that I sleep on the couch while you slept on a chair next to her bed. And whenever Grace needed something, you would leap up faster than I could and attend to Grace, even if it meant running down the hall to get her ice water or wiping her chin or mouth because, well, we know why she needed that. I knew then that you were going to be there for Grace, for better and for worse, no matter what. I also knew that I was going to love your Mom because she raised you to be a fine gentleman and a wonderfully caring human being. Way to go, Peggy!
Grace, as you know, your Dad and I got married 35 years ago this past May. At my wedding my Dad told one of my friends that he didn’t know if his pride in me exceeded his love or if his love exceeded his pride. That is certainly how I am feeling about you today. You have made us proud in so many ways, whether earning a scholarship to Bentley or a promotion at Sunlife, whether driving us fearlessly all over Ireland on the other side of the road, whether giving up a week of your life to spend it in West Virginia with me and 50 crazy teenagers trying to answer people’s prayers, or just by being an authentic friend to so many here.
As for love, we have a very short time here on this third rock from the sun, and none of us escapes hardship and pain and loss. The only thing that makes the tough times bearable is love. The love of family, the love of friends, the love of a parent for a child, and the love of husband and wife. I am sure that there are as many definitions of love as there are stars in the sky, but my definition of love has always been a simple one – love is putting someone else’s needs above your own. I have witnessed this countless times with you both. You are so supportive of each other, and so generous and thoughtful in how you respond to each other’s needs that I have no doubt that your love is an everlasting one, and that no matter what happens to you in life, you will live happily ever after.
Being the English Major nerd that I am, I wanted to find a fitting poem or lyric to end my reflection. I consulted the great lyricists of our time: Lennon and McCartney, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Snoop Dog….
I finally chose lyrics from a Phil Collins song, “You’ll Be in My Heart”. I chose these lyrics because, for me, they express, in a very powerful yet simple way, not only the enduring love of mother and child, but of husband and wife, the love that I feel for you both, and that I know you feel for each other, a love that means someone will always have your back, that they will be in your heart forever.
And so, I will end as the song ends, “Just look over your shoulder, I’ll be there always.”