I am not an emotional person. Not in public. Not unless the circumstances demanded that I show something other than a cool and calm demeanor. Acting comes naturally to me, so do poetry and oratorical improvisation. Give me a podium and I can argue or discuss just about anything. There is no subject that I cannot tackle effortlessly and eloquently. Until my best girlfriends friend’s wedding…
It went something like this:
Best Man gets up and tells lovely stories about how he met the groom and how he came to know the bride. People laugh at how he describes very jovially that the groom one day stopped partying and out of the blue presented my friend to his crew. Fast forward 7ish years into the future and here we are. (Laughs.) He mentioned wishing them lots of love and lots babies. All this first in Spanish and then in English, as had been requested by the couple. I hear applause and he passes the spotlight to me…
You have to understand something. I got laid off right before we started planning the Bachelorette party, right after the invitations had been sent and the wedding party set. Luckily the trip was already paid. Their relationship had developed 3,000 miles away from me; I may have met him a total of 2.5 times, once before the engagement and one after. Ever since I had been tasked with the toast, I had been thinking about what to say, how to say it, what not to say, and to whom I was saying it to, and in two languages!
For the first time in my life words eluded me.
Sadness filled my spirit as I despaired. Yes, she had been my maid of honor but with her permission, I had given the speech to one of my college friends. Life was too real, and the loss of my job and subsequent aftermath too much too carry. My marriage had been an uphill battle from day one; I didn’t have anything nice to say. Or so I thought until it hit me. Out of all the emotions I was feeling the one that kept me going was gratitude. I was grateful the bride had included me in all her photos, in her journey, in her beautiful life. So what if I hadn’t been a part of their past, I was to become a part of their future.
…The room was silent. I get up and move towards the couple’s table. Holding back tears I grabbed the microphone and glanced over to my husband who knew how heavy my heart was right at that moment. I was out there, on my own, where no one could save me. I looked at the bride who was smiling wide and reassuringly, letting me know there was nothing I could say that she wouldn’t fall in love with or appreciate. She had become my sister long before she had become my best friend.
“For those of you who do not know me, I have known the bride since I was five years old. (Raises hand and shows five fingers. The crowd is amazed!) She was my maid of honor 8, wait, 7 years ago. Unlike the Best Man, I’m going to improvise the speech and translate it real time so please bear with me as I find the right words to convey my meaning.
“When I met the bride, (voice started cracking) I had (started to cry)…pause…I had gotten up…(cries heavier, bride reached for my hand and tells me its okay to take my time)…10 second pause…and the teacher had scolded me for trying to say hi to one of my preschool friends (cries a bit more, voice starts to come back, bride side hugs me, I smile)…I’m sorry. (Laughs) I’m not supposed to be the emotional one today. (More laughter)… and when I sat down, the bride turned to face me and said “Don’t worry, I… (started to cry again)…will be your friend! (People laugh, I manage to pull myself together.)…if you know the bride you know she can’t resist the urge to talk to anyone, including the walls…(more laughter)… From then on it was history. We went through everything together except college. I left for the Pacific Northwest right after graduation and she moved back home.
“The day she told me she was getting married I recall thinking “Didn’t you say you were never getting married?” (Crowd goes wild. Bride shrugs shoulders and agrees. We all laugh.) He must be very special; maybe even The One to have gotten her to say yes. (Big smile. Turned to the groom.) Groom, thanks for saving me many sleepless nights of having to comfort my best friend because you broke her heart. Thank you for loving her, supporting her and helping her make her dreams come true. Welcome to the family! Please take good care of my friend.
(Turns to the crowd) Echoing the sentiments of the Best Man (looks at Best Man, who also raises glass) let’s raise our glasses to the bride and groom. (Waits until everyone grabs a drink.) Cheers! (Cheers!) Applause.
If you look at the tape you will notice that bride held my hand at various stages of the speech. It was her love that got me through the moment. I mattered so much to her that she was willing to do anything it took to keep me engaged, to keep me talking, to let the feelings show. By the end, all my tears were of joy, a testament to both my resilience and to my friend’s support, cathartic and completely welcomed. Some of the guests couldn’t resist letting me know they thought my speech was the sweetest thing they have ever witnessed. My luck had started to turn. 🙂
As we left the reception and walked back to her room, I shared with her all my recent anguish. She listened patiently and nodded her head in agreement as she understood exactly how I was feeling. We quietly walked hand in hand the rest of the way until we reached the elevator. When the doors opened a few floors below our destination, a random couple got in and as soon as they noticed her dress they immediately offered her a beer from their beach bucket with their heartfelt congratulations. Ever cautious, she didn’t want to take it, but I encouraged her to do so and to document the exchange they took a selfie together! (I wish we had told them the hashtag for the wedding.) Without much delay we headed back to the party to dance the night away.
That night taught me that distance can never separate true friends. That the love we felt for each other has kept us closer than we had ever been physically. Boyfriends, husbands, future children, loss and gains, in the end all that matters is that we will always have each other. I have no idea what the future holds for them but I hope they are the ones that make it. Regardless of the outcome, my plan is to be right there beside them every step of the way.
After all, nerds have feelings too. 😛