My Daughter’s Getting Married

When I was in my late 30s, already feeling like my life was moving by too quickly, I went shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. I was fussing about a lot, trying on many different looks — I always have trouble with dresses, since my body isn’t really shaped like other women’s bodies, it’s well-rounded on the bottom and perfectly flat on the top. Finally I found something I liked, a gorgeous thick silk in a fucshia color. (I was wearing a lot of pinks in those days, having been told most emphatically that I’m a “spring.” Remember when people used to do their colors and get their seasons?)

I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself in the dress. I wondered aloud whether it was a little too casual, with its cut-in sleeves, its dropped waist, and especially its turtleneck. “You’re not the mother of the bride, are you?” the saleswoman asked, already prepping me for what would become the story of my life: that no matter how self-conscious you are, no one is even looking at you. “No,” I said, “but I’m the mother of the flower girl.”

I’m thinking of that comment now, two days before the wedding of my younger daughter. Now, nearly 30 years later, I am indeed the mother of the bride.

Back in my 30s, I loved the idea of being the mother of the flower girl. I was a mother, which gave me great pleasure, but I still had a youthful position in the family line-up. My daughters were still little, and not only did they have most of their lives still ahead of them, so did I.

It’s different now. Now it’s really really true that no one is looking at me, and the woman of the hour is my beautiful girl. I’m thrilled about all this, of course, because I love my daughter desperately and I know I’ll soon love the man she chose. (We’ve known him for a couple of years, but he’s a modest guy who doesn’t thrust his personality at you; I can tell how great he is, and how much he loves my daughter, and I think I can even tell what a good father he’d be to whatever grandchildren I might be lucky enough to have. But it would be something of a lie to say I love him already.) But over in the corner of the wedding dance, there sits a sense of foreboding in my own heart. I want to keep having events like this, glorious celebrations of something everyone truly revels in. But I don’t have too many of them left.

My 90-year-old mother will be at the wedding, too, so that puts everything in perspective a little. But it’s still a bit tough every time I’m reminded that there’s less of my life stretching ahead of me than there is my life spooling out behind.

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