|Ariel and Joe seal the deal|
When I married Mario, I was a single mother to Vince, the two year old boy that made my life worth living. Mario came with two boys of his own, David and Joe, who I loved immediately. We “blended” our family, when blended families were not the norm. Not long after, a beautiful daughter was born to us – Alicia. This is what made up our immediate family.
Blended families are special, and I have always been grateful for ours. We enjoy very special relationships with one another – as our kids have grown up, they have invited us into their lives. This is why we came to Seattle – Joe, our “second son” is having a baby with Ariel, his long-term girlfriend, this week and they invited us up. We gladly accepted the invitation.
Yesterday, after being in Seattle for only one day, Joe called us right after we woke up.
“Yeah, today Ariel and I are going to get married,” he said casually.
Instead of shock, Mario looked at one another and raised our eyebrows. Joe and Ariel are not what you would call predictable.
“We’ll be right over,” Mario said. We were elated – we knew that Joe and Ariel were planning to be married, we just didn’t know when. We also knew that it would be up to them to name the time, place and date. They did all three.
I met Ariel awhile ago, when she lived with her sister, my daughter-in-law, Lennae. She had a young son, named Asher. They seemed to be in their own universe, devoted to one another the way that most mothers and only children are. We socialized rarely; while Lennae was open and inclusive, Ariel seemed shy and wary of us. Now and then we would talk to one another, but we did live in Africa – and our main purpose while we stayed with David and Lennae was to be with them – and their girls.
It was natural that Joe would spend the holidays with us– David and Joe were to us like peanut butter and jelly, or bread and butter. Having them together in Kansas City in David’s house seemed completely wonderful. Eventually, Joe and Ariel discovered each other – and they began a relationship.
Their romance seemed equally private, but even I could see that they were seriously considering each other for long-term commitment. Joe began feeling very strongly about Ariel and her son, Asher. I started to see qualities that existed in Mario come to the surface: stability, protection, quiet strength, enduring love. It was beautiful and scary.
After finishing college, Joe moved to Seattle to work for Boeing. He told us about a year ago that Ariel and Asher were moving across country to be with him. Soon after, Ariel and Joe were expecting a baby.
We received an invitation to come out and be with them for the birth – an honor I wasn’t expecting. Mario also told me that Joe asked him if he could perform a marriage ceremony for them; it turned out he couldn’t, but we both were in awe that he would be asked.
Yesterday was a surreal day. I woke up, had coffee and went to Joe’s house to see him and his pregnant girlfriend get married; the ring bearer was Asher, carrying the rings on Leonardo. It was a beautiful clear day, where the Seattle sun shone kindly upon us, and we parked our car in a downtown garage and walked to the chapel. It was an unconventional place called “Shotgun Chapel” – decorated in urban chic and old west fusion.
A girl named Bronwyn performed the service and asked the bride and groom questions, like how they met, what their first date was, what they did that was memorable. Eventually she asked, “If the sky were the limit and money was no object what gift would you give to one another?”
Joe smiled and looked at Ariel and said “I think we already have done that,” referring to little Harvey, present but protected in his mother’s womb.
After vows, we celebrated with dancing to the wedding song “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” from Footloose. This song was actually chosen on a whim – by Joe’s sister, Seantel. It has a quirky story behind it, but it fit the non-conformist wedding perfectly.
Today, I type this completely blessed. It is only God who can orchestrate these things. I am here with my husband of twenty-seven years. We are about to head over to Joe’s house where we will be with him, Ariel, Asher, Cathy (Mario’s ex-wife and a dear friend), Seantel (Cathy’s daughter, who calls me her step-mom), and little Asher – who reminds me so much of my own son, Vince. We are all happily “waiting on Harvey” – the little guy who we all love so much already.
I am stunned at how beautiful life is sometimes.
Thank you, God.