Originally published Thursday, 28 April 2016.
Today is June 4th. We're in a season for flip-flops and sundresses. Virginia is all lush, crayola greens. And white wine. And fireworks reflecting off the harbor at night.
I've told myself ever since G asked a question, the big question, on a bended knee in my family's home on back in November that the moment I slipped on flip-flops, it would be go-time.
For months I bundled in my puffy coat. Shoved ice and snow from the tires of my car. G and I missed a trip to sunny California because of a winter storm. I worked from home. Outside was all whites, grays and the wind swarmed around my apartment building.
I thought this time of year would never get here. So we all trudged along. We watched a lot of Neflix. Somewhere in there I ran a half-marathon and consumed a lot of pizza and merlot, just to remind myself that I was alive. That the cold air was to be enjoyed and savored. Not rushed through.
But now our sparkling red invitations are floating out somewhere in the mail-o-sphere. G is moving his items into our new home this week. I'm in the midst of purging my bedroom of the non-vitals, the items I can be without up until the last few days before the wedding.
Cluttered. Disorganized. Bills frayed out like a round of Go Fish. My mind is in that deck, somewhere. I'll find it in a game of 52-card pickup later. And my toenails are a bright red. For flip-flop season. Go-time, indeed.
But it's also been a sweet season with my girlfriends. Old and new. These women in my small group, the girls I run with, the girls I went to college with, my family, my in-laws-to-be, they've all rallied. And that may be my favorite part of this whole season. Seeing from the outside in how much love and support G and I have from the start of this adventure.
(Is it wrong to gush about my female friends so close to my wedding day? After all, God, my closest friends and family and the United States government will soon know that I love G dearly. And that these last 30 days we spend evenings apart might be one of the agonizing and exciting 30 days of our relationship.)
These women in my life give without expecting anything in return.
They're eight months pregnant, they're military spouses, they're authors, advanced degree-seekers, youth group leaders, engineers. They're all the carbon-copy of busy. Sometimes too busy.
And yet, here they are. Giving without expectation.
When I was single, in that bit of my life where I was in scads of weddings with satin dresses and had boyfriends who were fun for a while. But neither gave me much wear. The sweat-stained dresses or the guys, for that matter
I served. I plotted. I crafted (and if you know me, you know what a sacrifice doing anything with paint or glue is). All in the name of knowing that one day the same would be done for me. I gave with expectation of getting. It was the only way I could break through the grief (yes, grief) of not having a wedding of my own to prepare for.
But I've realized that this whole time, my motives were
wrong, wrong, wrong. Dead wrong.
Where's the love in giving because you want something back? Where's the love in giving because you want to show everyone how "okay" you are? Where's the love in giving because you want to be the bigger person?
Because these women in my life? They've given beyond the point of stretching. Beyond the point of their energy, or their time with their own spouses or significant others. They've taken pause. They're at the ready to help with programs. Or flowers. Or just listening to me when someone says something hurtful and I need to cry about it on a Saturday morning.
Here's what I'm learning a month out from my marriage: this may be what it's all about. This may be what being a military spouse is all about. Along with all the other bits we know - compromise, God at the center, fidelity - but also the selfless kind of giving. The kind of giving my girlfriends are showing me.