A Wedding in Portland, Maine

Originally posted on the Maine Crime Writers blog, June 19, 2012

Hi. Barb here. On May 19, a group of people gathered on a hill with a stunning view of Portland Head Light for a very special wedding ceremony.The weather was perfect–not always a given for Maine in mid-May, and if ever there were two people who deserved a beautiful day, it was this bride and groom–Briana and Nick.

Kate and Briana in first grade

Briana and my daughter Kate have been best friends since childhood. Who knows what magic chemistry draws one person to another, especially when we’re very young? From the first week of nursery school Kate and Briana played together. They went to daycare and dancing school together, bopped in and out of each others’ houses, were harassed by each others’ big brothers, and vacationed at each others’ grandparents’. Throughout elementary school, they had plenty of other friends, but it was understood by everyone that they shared a special bond.

Middle school and high school are so often the time when these early friendships grow distant. Kate and Briana travelled on the periphery of each other’s crowds, but somehow, defying the odds I think, stayed close friends. They toured colleges together, but in the end made different choices. Kate went off to UNH and Briana to UMass Amherst.

Kate and Briana at their senior prom

I still remember, vividly, the day Kate, home from college, stood at the top of the stairs in our house and told me Briana’s mother, Michele, had ovarian cancer. “Oh, Mom,” she wept, “Michele is so sick.” Over the next few years, Michele continued to pursue life with the openness to people and experiences that were always a part of her character, but both the disease and its treatment took their toll. Briana left college to care for her.

Kate graduated in 2006 and moved home. It was time for her to go out into the world, and yet, she didn’t. Normally, I would have been worried and nagging, but I, too, could tell it wasn’t time for Kate to go. That summer, Kate moved into Michele’s house for the last three weeks of her life, and stayed with Briana while she and a dedicated group of family, friends and professionals cared for her mother. During Michele’s illness, I’d watched Briana mature beyond her years, but sometimes you don’t know what your own kid has in her.

Kate and Briana at Briana’s wedding

In the last days of her life, Michele and I had a conversation. I talked about how she’d always raised her kids to be independent, self-reliant and resilient, and how well that was going to serve them now. She agreed. She said she knew things had been tough for them during her illness and would be tougher after she was gone, but Michele truly believed her kids were going to be okay.

Briana returned to school and both she and her new husband Nick are in the healthcare field. I believe their career choices are fitting because they both have a special capacity for caring. And by one of those weird coincidences in life, Nick is a very distant relative of my husband’s-so Briana and Kate are thrilled that they’re at last related.

Alfredo and Michele at Briana’s wedding

Both Michele and Nick’s late father, Alfredo, who also died too young, were a palpable presence at the wedding. It was impossible not to think about how proud Michele would have been of the fine young men her sons have become, and of her daughter, the beautiful bride.  My husband and I sat at a table with Michele’s friends where we talked about how, just like Michele, Briana fills her life with interesting people and remains fiercely loyal to them. There were people at the reception from every part of Briana’s life.

It was an honor and a privilege to be with Briana and Nick on their special day. I think they know that Bill and I, and every person there, wish for them nothing but the best.

Whoopie pies instead of wedding cake, perfect for a Maine wedding.

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