I had my first kid at age 9. We can have kids without being a mother, ya know. These kids I watched being born, help care for, and love like my own were my sisters' children. I've had the priveledge to see them grow and love them like my own. I try my best to be at special occasions in their lives, so, after much thought and prayer, I flew to Portugal for 9 days to help prepare the wedding of one of the most special people God has ever created. I was sleep deprived, tired, my back and my legs hurt like crazy.... but I had a blast. There's something about helping people you love that it can't be explained. I was so, so happy. Happy that Vasco has found the love of his life; happy that she loves him just as much and is such a special girl; happy that they are happy, and just plain happy to be there and share this big moment with them.
The preparation was as much stressful as it was fun. I could probably write a book with all the little things that kept coming up, unexpected, things that had to be resolved right then and there, and how we managed to do it all, sometimes using the magic of being at two places at the same time. Believe me, it can be done.
Friday morning was the big day. The church/civil marriage was at 1:00, and there were a million things to be done before that. A little side note to say that in Portugal, for all the years people can remember, only the catholic church had authority to marry a couple and have that marriage legally accepted by the government. If non catholic couples wanted to do a church ceremony, they had to pay a judge to be there at the appointed time to do it legally. So, it's no wonder that the changes that happened in the last few months were welcomed by the LDS church and all non catholic churches, for a new law was made that the clergy of any organized church will have the legal authority to perform such ceremonies. Vasco and Ariana's wedding was the first in their district to happen after the law was implemented, so we were all thrilled that our bishop was going to be performing the ceremony. (and to my LDS friends, that also means that, when the temple in Portugal is complete, a sealing will be all that couples will need to be married for time and eternity. For now, we're happy that the bishop can marry them for time, and they can make the trip to the Madrid to be sealed for eternity. But I digress...)
It was a busy but fun morning for me, since I was staying at my sister's and got to see the groom trying to figure out what to do first and pacing from one room to another, under a stress that only us that know him well could tell was swelling inside him. He always manages to appear calm and peaceful, but we know when nerves and tension make their way into his heart. I remember the morning I got married, it was terribly stressful... but somehow, when we see it in others we find it rather comical. Vasco probably got more hugs and kisses from me than he really asked for. (come to think of it, he never asked for any, but they kept coming anyway)
I was also in charge of picking up the bouquet at the florist, and go to the other side of town to help the bride get dressed and ready. So I got to see both of them before the wedding, and she wasn't any less nervous than him; in fact, she was a basketcase. With no reason for it, for she was radiant and gorgeous and no man in this world would think that she did not look splendid.
See the phone here? They kept calling each other checking on how much longer the other would take to be ready, and what they were doing at that time. Needless to say, this made them both late. REALLY late!
And may I just add, what a gorgeous, handsome man, my boy had turned out to be!
I don't think Ariana will ever know how much it meant to me that she asked me to help her get ready. I love this girl so dearly. Being there with her was a real privelege and I will forever treasure that time with her. When her friend left, after doing her hair, it was just the two of us and my heart was full. I had to hold back my tears so many times, I was in awe and as happy as could be.
Yeah, here's the phone on the other side of the line. They really cracked me up.
She was stunning. Seriously, I would look at her and want to burst into tears. The dress was gorgeous, the flowers and the veil made her look like a princess, and her eyes... there was something in her eyes that lit the room, and made any heart melt. She looked absolutly perfect.
Are there any words to describe this beauty?
And then another call...
She finally made it to the chapel!
...and hand in hand, no more phone calls. They were together.
Wasn't all the stress worth it?
The bishop then announced a special musical number. And Ariana stood by the piano and sang "I feel my Savior's love" like a perfect angel.
By now the pictures I was taking were turning all blury, because I could no longer contain the tears.
We all felt our Savior's love.
And off we went for lunch and lots of fun...
beautiful and carefree...
and laughing all the way. Who knows what about!
Back to more fun...
...and the famous first dance.
Watching them was a delight. And we all joined in the fun, dance, even kareoke. Yeah, you should've been there to hear me sing! Aren't you sad you miss such an event!
The evening was one of the funnest I can remember. The day had been so glorious, that we thought we could not be happier that we were then.
We were wrong.
I wish I could put into words the feelings I experienced the next day at the Temple. I wish I could express the peace, joy, love and gratitude I felt, watching the sparkling in their eyes as they were declared sealed for all eternity. I wish I could transmit the feelings that started swelling in my heart, until it felt it would explode with happiness. Here was my boy, my dear, dear boy, turned into a good man, an extraordinary human being, hand in hand with his eternal companion. I couldn't stop crying. I remember one day when a child came to me at church and asked me why do people cry when bearing their testimonies about Christ. The best explanation I could give her is that, when we feel The Spirit of God, we are filled with an emotion that transcends our human capacities to hold it. So, our bodie doesn't quite know how to react to such amount of divinity. So we cry. Kind of like when something bursts, it leaks. And it's not because we are sad, it's because we are so, so happy, and we don't know how to put into words what we want to say. I wanted to let Vasco and Ariana peak into my heart and see what was inside. Instead, I hugged my nephew with a teary smile, the last hug I would give him for a good while. I just remember telling him to be happy. And then I turned to my new niece, and we embraced, and we sobbed, and all we could say to each other was "thank you". We stayed like that for a bit, and then, on to wipe our faces from the runny make up.
Not that it would matter. We cried a whole bunch more even after that.
We left them with a tear in an eye and a smile in our hearts.
Their "happily ever after" had just begun.