Originally published Tuesday, 06 January 2015.
I'm still getting the hang of calling him my fiance.
It's a hard, wonderful word. First off, it's French. And it makes your mouth do some unnatural stretching. But it's more than just a loaded word or a title.
I'm learning it's a word that means it's time to expand. Time to link names and bank accounts and career trajectories and apartment clutter. Time for us to look for two-bedroom places so he'll have space for his guitar amps and I'll have room to write.
Time to go arm in arm into life. Not just as fragile cake top replicas, but a real husband and wife. Flesh and bone. Champagne, tuxedos, wedding gowns, bright blue bridesmaids dresses and Bruno Mars and 'til death do us parts.
It's joy followed by more joy.
This is an inclusive joy. It's a joy that begins as two knitting needles that wrap and coil around yarn making something beautiful: life, an outward symbol of our Christian faith, community.
It's a joy that doesn't discount the people who got you there. Who molded you into the sort of human another sort of human you're in love with would want to do life beside. The people who you studied (partied/sang/procrastinated) with in college. The people who knew you before he ever did.
No offense to him, of course. He's an important part of the story. He'll be the man you eat breakfast with forever. He'll be the last person you say goodnight to. The father of your someday family. After all, it's awfully hard to have a wedding/marriage without a sunny-side groom.
Even though for years the groom was just an afterthought in my wedding daydreams.
But during an engagement there is the temptation to leave other important relationships as the sideshow. Almost as afterthoughts. Though they should get top-billing in your story. They are the people right at the edge of that altar watching you make a vow. They are the men and women who are voluntarily helping you plan a big party.
They are the people you couldn't wait to call moments after your fiance put a round-cut sparkle on your ring finger:
"I knew it was going to happen today," one of my bridesmaids said when I shakily dialed her number to tell her the news. "I've been waiting for this call."
I could practically hear her smile strike through the phone line. How could she have possibly known he would propose on a certain day at a specific time?
Simple. She asked him.
It was a spontaneous trip.
She decided only a few days before that she'd visit for the weekend. That visit included a threesome dinner date with the fiance (then boyfriend). Sangria, chips and tacos were on the menu.
And the moment I excused myself to go to the restroom (yes, females can go to the restroom alone) she got serious. Put both of her hands on the table across from him and said:
"So...you're dating my best friend. When are you going to marry that girl?"
Several aspects of this scene make me smile. First of all, I can only imagine the look of shock on his face, being interrogated by such a beautiful, sassy body-and-soul-guard. Second prize goes to the fact that my friendship with this girl is a walking sitcom.
Most of all, I could hug her forever by the way she fights in my corner. By the way she protects and asks very hard questions. By the way she can intimidate anyone (after a few sips of sangria), including a man in the U.S. Navy, if it means ensuring my heart's safety.
Keep these people forever-close. That's the most important thing you could ever do when you enter this season. Because while he may make a legal promise to love you forever, these best friends, these women (mothers, aunts, sisters best friends, undercover detectives) made no such vow. They didn't have to.
They love you because. And just because.
I'm not naive. There's a reason why people disappear after they get married. I know that of all the changes and milestones of life this is one of the big ones. I won't discount the high emotions, high stakes of wedding day bliss/drama.
But these friendships can't fall by the wayside in the midst of Pinterest-plotting and menu tasting. They can't roll out with the tide of new chapters and new last names. After all, the word fiance is fleeting. It ends when we say, "I do." It's temporal.
Friendship and marriage is forever. Keep them both forever-close.