It was a fine day, in the end.
A crisp, beautiful, sunny fall day, perfect for such an occasion. He was surrounded by a clan that included 3 great-grandmothers, 2 great-grandfathers, 2 grandfathers, 2 grandmothers, 2 great-uncles, 2 great-aunts, 2 uncles, 2 godparents and 3 second cousins.
He was one of three that day. Amazingly, none of those three cried. A few watching did.
He wore a christening gown that his great, great-grandfather on his mother’s side wore over 100 years ago. It was ivory, leaning toward yellow, and beautiful.
I, his grandmother on his father’s side, wore a smile. And something that made me feel comfortable and happy. Simple. No cashmere. No lace.
And my smile stayed on the entire day. Through the service. Through the ceremony. Through the lovely afternoon at home afterwards.
And I smiled when I talked to the two I worried about seeing.
In the end, it was anticlimactic. My worry had been much ado about nothing, foofaraw some would say, a fuss over a trivial matter, perhaps. When we talked, we chatted about common things that matter–children, parents, friends and places we share. She gave me a long look and asked if I was okay.
I replied, “Yes.” I said that, without telling her all I have told others about why I can say yes honestly now. I said nothing about the long and painful process of discovering and understanding that the divorce was a good thing. I did not say that I had come to know that the marriage was fatally flawed before she stepped into the picture. I just said, “Yes.”
I sat in the pew behind the two of them, sitting next to the one who has come to fully occupy the hole that had been left in my heart. I admired what she wore and noticed how he’d changed. I visited with his mother who I had missed, I hugged him when we greeted each other and again when we said goodbye.
And that evening at the hotel I cried. I cried hard, with a mix of happiness and sadness. Sadness that for this occasion we were not a family in the sense of family that I had always known and expected to be. Happiness that I was with someone who is kind and caring and understands that I needed to cry because of that.
A blogging friend kindly suggested that there are far more difficult issues to address than “what to wear” when this type of encounter occurs and that we occupy ourselves with something that is far less painful to help us to get through something that we are dreading or worrying about. I occupied myself with fussing over a trivial matter that was actually of no importance. But it helped me to get through anticipating what I believed would be a very difficult day.
When it arrived, it was not a difficult day. No one paid attention to what I wore–all focused on my grandson, as it should be. He put a smile on our faces, swept away my worry, made everyone feel comfortable and kept our slightly changed family centered on what is important. We are not family in the form that we were before. But we are still family in the sense that we surrounded him and loved him completely, just as we would have done before we were changed.
It was a fine day, the perfect kind of day to meet and greet and welcome a special wee one. I knew before I dressed that it mattered not at all what I wore because I would be smiling. And that is what I did till the end. I couldn’t help it.