The first wedding without Robb.
The first wedding with my boys in company.
The first wedding at which the bride is a single mom.
I prepped the boys with promises of grandeur if they obeyed and stayed near me at all times, and threats against life as they know it if we needed to leave early for any reason related to their behavior.
We're getting out of the car; wedding behavior starts now.
"Do you guys mind if I take your mom's arm?"
Guys, this man is called an usher. He's going to take us to our seats. Follow closely behind, little ducklings.
I read the wedding program aloud. I explain words like bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearer, processional, and the kiss.
(They've got that last one figured out.)
The bride has seven brothers. One looks unbelievably like Robb - he was born on the same day, same year. He is the closest resemblance I have ever seen. I want to take his picture. I want to tell him why I can't stop looking at him.
The bride walks down the aisle. "Great is Thy Faithfulness."
Her daughter is one of our favorite babysitters; she cries as she watches her mom. I cry as I watch her.
One of my life's pastors officiates the wedding. He officiated Robb's funeral. His voice is melodically familiar to me. I know the rise and fall. His family has carried mine.
He speaks from a passage in Song of Solomon, the glimpse of love the way God intended.
"May your love be as sure as death. Death is inevitable, something in this life that is sure to come our way. May your love be as lasting, as sure."
The boys whisper incessantly.
"Mommy, can we have a wedding someday?"
"Who will we sit with when you get married?"
"When you get married, I'll be the groom, Mommy."
"Mommy, are you crying because you are happy or sad?"
I'm really not sure. I think this is a both/and day.
The pastor talks about "abiding love."
Never missing a new word or phrase, Tyler calls out (loudly) from our row, "Biting love?!"
Laughter sparkles around us.
A friend whispers to her husband: "He's right. Sometimes it is biting love."
Oh, Tyler. You bless me.
The boys were unbelievably great.
They were absolutely five and six, and they were unbelievably great. I kept them occupied with pens, paper, and chocolate chips cookies.
"I have prayed for this day for years," the pastor tells us.
He looks to the bride.
"I have prayed for one person by name."
He looks to the daughter of the bride,
"I have prayed for another person by name."
And he looks to the groom,
"And I have prayed for one person in hope.
And this day has finally come."
The bride and groom make vows to each other.
And then they make vows to their daughter: a family commitment. It was beyond-words-beautiful to me.
"I now present to you, a new creation, never before seen on planet earth: Mr. and Mrs. Andy Shannon."
I cheer and I cry.
Two thumbs up to the bride.
You did it, girlfriend.
And now you have someone by your side for all the rest.