Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Week From Now, She'll Be Married

It's wedding week. By this time on Friday evening one week from today, my second born child will be the wife of her high school sweetheart.

We have massive lists of Things To Do and a timeline and stuff piled high all over the house; it's a DIY wedding happening right here in our backyard, and that means there's just a heck of a lot to do to get ready.

I'll be busy.

But I've learned, lately, that it pays to be intentional; to count the moments that matter and take the time to speak truth aloud to myself when I most need it. To say, "Be here, now, in THIS moment. Notice. Pay attention. This won't come again."

A lot of parenting moments have flown by. I think they do for all of us; you bring home a bouncing baby boy and in the blink of an eye, he starts kindergarten; and then he's in 8th grade and before you know it he's driving a car and then he gets in that car and drives away to college.

For me, it was three bouncing baby girls and two handsome boys, all born in the space occupied by the first President Bush and Bill Clinton (I pretty much missed the 90's). So many hands and feet and mouths to manage during those years, and the decade after as well; some of our family history is just a blur to me. Pictures I find in scrapbooks and tucked away in boxes are incredibly special - they feel fresh and new, with faint tinges of memory; they assure me of what I hoped was happening all along. We had much joy; much laughter. We were a family.

I never raised my kids with the explicit expectation of marriage. Like my parents with my brother and me, I emphasized education. Post high school, it was a given that college was the natural next step. But, of course, my kids are human - and we humans crave companionship. And when Shannon and Travis became best friends in high school, something began to grow between them - and within their relationship - that was blatantly obvious to them and to those of us who loved them.

For six years now, they have dated one another. They broke up - once, and he wrote a heart breaking song about their time apart that continues to wreck me, when I remember sitting around a bonfire in the back yard, hearing him sing and understanding, for the first time, the depth of his affection for my daughter. They managed a long distance relationship for all four years of her university education, and I never was prouder than when she went with her first choice - JMU - rather than stay closer to home and closer to him. She chose internships that took her out of town for two full summers, while he stayed home and worked. And waited.

She lived the life she wanted, while finding a way to stay connected and nurture the relationship that continued to flourish between them.

And then he drove to North Carolina, to our family's jewelry store, and bought her a ring, and planned an elaborate surprise proposal and a surprise engagement party, and we began to plan, and now here we are.

In a week, they will be married.

I have purposed, in the midst of the to-do's and the scrambling and the mad dash to get it all done, to remember. To take the time to appreciate what got us here, and where this child came from. When we give her away next Friday afternoon, we will do so with full knowledge of the investment made in this incredible, intelligent, funny, thoughtful, kind, passionate, loyal daughter of God.

My daughter, Shannon; my ginger, my little red-headed brainiac.

How I love her.

Shannon, this evening - in a familiar pose. A party was happening
outside with her sisters and friends - and she was caught up in a
book, reluctant to leave. She'd rather read than just about anything
else, and I love that about her (that apple fell right close to the tree,
if you know what I mean).

The two of them were always together, and usually it
was like this; Sarah was a mess, and Shannon was steady. Here,
they were headed off to the first day of Pre-K for Shannon -
Kindergarten for Sarah. So sweet....

Again, together; another first day of school. Only 16 months
apart, so much of their childhood is intertwined. They love
one another deeply - and that passion works through their
interactions in various ways. One pre-wedding meltdown this
week included harsh words, insults and rude remarks - followed by
embraces and apologizes and tearful confessions as they
sat twined together on the couch. They are blessed to
have one another.

Again, with Sarah; but I cropped her out. A hint of the woman
she was becoming here, somewhere around 5th grade. She
was an excellent student and incredibly bright.

Here with Sydni - the middle sister, a healthy balance.
Shannon is gifted by nature and by her
circumstances. She navigates the middle child
role very well.

That's my girl, wearing the soccer shirt that was a
constant for four or five years. This picture shows a
bit of the fiery ginger personality that usually lays
far beneath her gentle kindness.
As I find time, I think I will reflect this week upon this extraordinary young woman's life thus far. I trust the photos will help prompt the memories.

One week, and counting. #agingerandagiant #shannonandtravisgetmarried

2 comments:

Brandee Shafer said...

I wasn't teary 'til I got to the pics. I hope my babies will be as close as yours. All my love and best wishes to Shannon!

TheFrugalFreelancer.com said...

awwww so beautiful, you and your girls and ya'll's ptown legacy, I am so glad you guys are here.