My niece was married recently on the beach in Wareham, MA. The event was simple and exquisite, held at a large home at the water’s edge—it was the first wedding of that generation. I stood next to my father as the bride and groom exchanged their vows, and thought, It’s just not right that my mother’s not here to see this. This was her Megamuffin, the second oldest, getting married! My mother was always close to her grandchildren—they loved to stay overnight at her house and watch usually-forbidden cartoons, do special craft projects, and help out at the gift store where she worked. They could barely wait to see what surprise or new thing she had hidden in their special drawer.
We all miss her. But the wedding was perfect in every other way. My sister and her girls did a beautiful job decorating, strategically placing tiny candles and flowers and bowls of nuts and chocolates everywhere. The bride and groom gave the guests their framed photos, ornamented with glitter and pearls. The girls wore matching purple dresses, and each had designed and sewed their own unique straps. And before we arrived, they had cleared out seaweed to make a huge heart in the sand, and placed tiki torches along the perimeter. The heart became the dance floor. I laughed when I saw it, and told my sister, “Only your kids would think of doing that—with all the weddings this place has had, I bet no one has ever thought of clearing a heart out of the seaweed.” As the sun set behind the sailboats, and the clouds stretched thinner across the sky, I kept thinking, I wish Mom were here. But as I watched the bride and groom dance in the heart, with their family circled around them, I realized these were the tiny details my mother would have thought of. She made special Valentines filled with candy for our grade school classes and taught us four ways to cook over a fire. She decorated the bulletin boards in our preschool and made our costumes for drama and ballet. She taught us how to make tin-can lanterns and a hundred things to cook in a crock-pot. She was our Easter Bunny and our Santa Claus. So as I saw what her grandchildren had done for the wedding, I realized she did not leave us. My mother was in Wareham with us after all.