Dad tells us it’s going to be funny. “Father of the Bride is hilarious! Steve Martin is so awesome. Let’s have a family movie night!”
We gather in the family room all together. Except for Christian. He is at home sleeping. Oh, and Chelsea. She is sleeping too.
Megan cozies up next to me. Dad stretches out on the carpet. Mom and Lauren take the small couch. The family room is mostly dark except for the odd tea-kettle lamp in the corner throwing light and creating shadows on our faces. Blankets are passed around. Pillows are tossed to the less-fortunate. The movie is started.
The first half of the movie is super hilarious. Dad is rolling on the floor laughing at times (yeah, literally) and that makes the rest of us laugh even harder.
The scene where Steve Martin is so stressed out from paying for the wedding that he is arrested for getting into a fight with a store worker over the price and packaging of hot-dog buns has us dying.
The part he is snooping around his in-laws house and gets attacked by their HUGE dog causes my dad to do the “laughing-so-hard-your-laugh-goes-silent” laugh.
When the in-laws tell Steve Martin and his wife that they are relieved they look “so normal” and his wife answers, “Well, I am anyways,” makes us all turn to look at Mom and grin because it’s something she would say. And then it makes us turn and look at Dad because it would be true.
But towards the end of the movie, things started to change. We aren’t laughing anymore. Because the bride is walking down the aisle and her family is saying goodbye.
Megan scoots closer to me. I feel something wet on my arm. I look down and tears are cascading over her still-baby-like cheeks. “I don’t want you to go, Nay Nay…I’m going to miss you too much.”
I look over to see mom’s eyes all wet too.
And seriously. How am I not supposed to lose it?
I hold Megan close in my arms and keep watching. Steve Martin’s character has changed from the crazy, overwhelmed, hilarious father, to a father who suddenly realizes his daughter is grown-up and starting a new life of her own.
“Do you give this woman….?” the preacher asks. But all Steve Martin hears is “this woman…
When did she grow up? When did she become a woman? I can read the question in my father’s face as he glances over at me. His own usually humorous eyes looking so serious.
“Look, Renee. I sent your dad a picture of you in your wedding dress… this is what he wrote back:
‘Who is that beautiful woman?’”
I can see my parents’ confusion. I can almost read my mom’s mind. “Dad and I only got married yesterday. How can we have a child old enough to get married herself?”
And I sit there clutching my five-year-old-twin-child-sister feeling at a loss for words. Fortunately no one is asking me to say anything. So I just stroke Megan’s hair and wipe her tears with my sleeve and avoid looking at my mom’s face.
Is it right to feel sad? Part of me feels like I’m betraying Christian if I let myself cry. Is it okay to be so happy to marry him but so sad to leave this place? How can I love him so dearly, and yet sit here and hold back sobs?
He is truly an answered prayer, exactly what God knows I need. He’s the patience that I never learned. He’s the steadiness that I never possessed myself. He’s the kind heart I never imagined I would get to call my own. He’s the light-hearted tease I love. He’s the serious conversation that I crave.
But change can still be so scary. Even when it’s the best change you could imagine or ask for.
Is it okay to feel sad and happy all at once? Is it okay for me to grow up and move on? Do I have permission? Do I need it? Am I ready? I know I am…
I remember a verse.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace…
He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
He has made everything beautiful in its time…
I’m hardly watching the movie. I’m thinking. Right now I’m in between times. I’m laughing while I cry. I’m dancing while I mourn. I’m being planted while I’m being uprooted.
And that’s okay. In fact, it’s normal.
So when the movie ends and Dad says something to Megan about not letting me go, I let myself cry. I sob even as my heart is happy. I tell them how much I love them and how much I care, even as I know I wouldn’t change a thing. And Mom hugs me and gets my shoulder wet. And Dad plots a way for me to stay or a way for him to come with. But I know that they wouldn’t change a thing.
Life is change.
But life is a beautiful state of change.
That night Megan tearfully asks me to sleep with her. I crawl into bed and tell her a story.
“In a land far away, Neverland to be exact, which anyone can get to if they fly towards the second star to the right straight on til morning… there lived a little boy who always wore green and who never grew up. No matter how many years passed. And his name was Peter Pan.”
She breathes steady beside me in the dark and listens close.
“Peter Pan didn’t like change. He wanted everything to stay the same forever. He didn’t realize that sometimes, change means better things, new friends, more to love, happy memories, and big adventures…”
I finish the story and she whisper-prays. It’s not actually meant for my ears to hear, but her whispers are louder than she thinks. So God and I listen together.
“Dear Jesus, please help me to have good dreams…”
I smile because I used to pray that every night as a child.
“… and please help Renee to have good, happy times being married.”
There is a time for everything… so be grateful for every moment of the time you are given. And hold on to the moments that have passed. And look forward to the moments that are yet to come.