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Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Creating Her Own Moment With a Renewal of Vows

The growing baby hardly made a bump under the simple fabric of her wedding dress. It was the obligatory yellow sash tied around her waist that told her story and her fall from grace.

The 15-year-old girl from a nice Catholic family and her 18-year-old handsome knight didn’t need the help of a shotgun to declare their love and commitment in front of family, friends and God; they’d decided on their own to consummate the pregnancy with wedding vows and a priest, but her mother’s insistence that white was for virgins and a ceremony initiated by shameful acts didn’t justify too much joy or celebration left sadness lingering in the young bride’s heart.

Their love was young but honest, simple and enduring, and although their hearts were quite pure, their families’ intent to hush whispers and brand a fallen daughter enveloped the young couple’s promise in strife and dishonor.

After a small ceremony in July, 1971 the newlyweds put the beginning to rest and focused on creating a future. With the baby’s outline no longer hidden behind figureless clothing, the pregnant child was forced to abandon her honor roll status, drop out of school, and take to task the pending glory of motherhood. Only 33 days after her sixteenth birthday she did indeed birth her very own family, a baby to love-a daughter to share and dream and hope with.

She only allowed herself random moments to look toward the past and instead of letting sorrow linger for long, she busied herself with the present. As her family grew, this mother of daughters and a son found certain delights she’d never been allowed. While her children skipped through their own rites of passage-proms and weddings-moments when girls wear flowing dresses and stand with shoulders poised amidst declarations of beauty, she basked in her commitment to give her girls their moments. But sometimes, even when she tried to swallow hard, she accidentally tapped into that long ago sadness and wondered what it would feel like to have had a moment of her own.

For 38 years she’s raised her first child and her second and third. She’s welcomed a grandchild from each of her children while she and my father countered the odds and proved false the projections for failure when starting so young; still holding hands everywhere they saunter, their eyes gleam and dance at the sight of each other. It’s a romance of endurance and lives entwined, of history and memory and dreams fulfilled and let go, of youth turned middle age and the strength to be humble in a lover’s arms.

Now with clarity and the perspective of half a century rather than only a decade plus five, the bride’s life is enough pleasantly seasoned that she’s realized her moment long gone and wondered about didn’t have to be dictated by a family’s false values and fear of public scrutiny. The shame was not hers or his; it was handed to them by people proposing to love yet really only self enamored.

When my phone rang Monday night I’m sure my mother was wearing a small smile I can only imagine when she asked if I’d stand at her side together with my siblings while she and my father marry. My satirical tongue acted before my mind could engage, but immune to my sarcasm she chuckled and explained, it’s never too late.

She’ll choose her own garb absent any yellow sashes or embroidered disgrace. She’ll stand with her children and their children at the side of her husband to declare once again to love and honor the path they’ve traveled and the one they’ve yet to explore while we’ll rejoice and eat and dance and proudly witness her moment.

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