“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Almost three years ago our wonderful nephew and his relatively new girlfriend found themselves in that situation that is as old as time, unexpectedly pregnant. Both still at the beginning of their college experience, neither family having yet met, it was one of those moments that could have gone really badly. I am very happy to say, it did not, quite the opposite in fact. A fact that makes me incredibly proud and happily weepy.
All of us who had the chance to met said girlfriend, adored her immediately. How could we not. She is quiet and shy, yet engaging and truly lovely. A beautiful, thoughtful, wholesome girl next door, excited to be in college to pursue her nursing degree.
Our nephew is also thoughtful, quiet, sometimes shy, wholesome, engaging, and we love him. Understandably, we wanted to throttle and hug him all at the same time!
There was all the stress you would expect from various family members about what would happen to them. “Their life will be so hard,” was said by some. “His life is over,” said others, and so on. But some of us, and even those who said these things, came on board, quickly, fully, and with conviction, that somehow it would all be OK. It wasn’t the end of the world. This situation is not new nor unique. If we all pull together and step up, it will be OK, and everyone did. Obviously some did more than others, but we all did what we were able to do that made the most sense. I’m still struck by how two families and extended family members and friends who didn’t know each other pulled together, all on the same page, and gave these two the support and love they needed.
The first thing that occurred of course was her parents immediately said they would fully and unconditionally support their daughter and her baby. Our family expressed a desire for our nephew to finish his college education so he would have a better opportunity to support them. She finished the semester and then dropped out of nursing school and went home during her pregnancy.
He traveled with her home to the northeast to meet his family, who is divorced and remarried, so there were two sets of parents to face. Shortly after that visit, he asked her to marry him. We were all thrilled. Thrilled that he was thoughtful about it and asked her not as a knee jerk but after they had some time to absorb it all, and then that she said yes. Eventually he moved in with his in-laws-to-be and finished much of his degree through online classes and occasional visits to campus while working a minimum wage job to have money to help pay for things and to be there with her. The families eventually met one another face to face and it was clear that both of the kids were going to have as much support as each family member could give and it was truly heartwarming. We all had the same goal. This situation was not the end of anything, but the beginning of something wonderful.
A beautiful baby boy was born and everyone’s world got brighter. Our nephew finished college and his fiancé went back to nursing school locally and will finish this spring. Engaged for two years, they have finally been able to get married. We flew in from all over to be there. The wedding was a lot like them. Unassuming, traditional, quiet, welcoming, beautiful, thoughtful and special. Family members, like us, finally got to meet the bride’s family, and see far away relatives we hadn’t seen in 20 plus years. (We see people at weddings and funerals as they say.) All my in-laws grandchildren were together for the first time in over a decade. Photos were taken, dancing went on and on, fun was had by all and it was an amazing evening.
As I sat during the ceremony and later listening to the toasts, thinking about the turmoil we all understandably felt just shy of three years ago, and of course how stressful it must have been for the two young people involved, I looked around, while wiping my own misty eyes, at my brother-in-law, former sister-in-law, the bride’s parents, my in-laws, my children and the cousins, and how moved we all were about how it had turned out. In no small measure by the part that everyone played, pulling together, not judging or demeaning, putting our best game face on and saying “OK. So…what can we do to help.”
Their beautiful son, my GREAT NEPHEW, was a champ. He never cried or threw a single tantrum (which I hear he rarely does). Whenever a camera was presented for a photo he put on his camera smile and looked right at the person wanting their Kodak moment. He had on a matching little tux with a placard around his neck as the mother of the bride walked him down the isle before the ceremony in her beautiful gown smiling ear to ear. He didn’t run up to the alter or create a fuss. He simply was in awe of what was happening before his beautiful 2 year old eyes. At the end of the exchanging of the vows he was given the OK to go run up, and he did, being scooped up by his father. Holding their son in his arms and his bride’s hand they beamed as they turned and faced us all. A family, officially, finally, looking at a room full of unconditional love and joy.
My fun throughout the night was introducing myself to the bride’s family saying, “Hello. I’m E’s Great Aunt Lori! Great Aunt sounds so much more prestigious don’t you think?” They would laugh and then I would clarify my connection. We did get to meet the little guy when he was but 3 weeks old and loved him then and from afar with occasional photos.
I was struck so much by the experience. But mostly the community, family and love that never waivered in support of two young people, to make it possible for them to move forward with their lives without anymore undue struggle than was necessary, while allowing them to take responsibility for their own future. It made my heart swell, and while we have been gone from home a long time and the logistics for all of us to be here was tiring, it was worth every moment to share in their “official” beginnings.
The bride was beautiful and beaming and the groom was handsome and focused. They will be just fine. 2014 has started out perfect for me. (Anyway, I thought you might enjoy hearing about such a sweet story of overcoming obstacles of a different kind than the ones we face, but an obstacle nonetheless. We need and get support, just like them. It’s a good thing.)