“It’s the little things in life that matters,” he said, “Whether you are going to Australia or St. Louis, as long as you enjoy the little things and you’ll be happy.”
I can’t remember his name for the life of me. I remember his wife’s name; it was Ruth. But him, I’m drawing a blank. He is from a tiny town east of Lincoln, Nebraska. Retired for almost twenty years, in his late 60, has a pacemaker, Marine Corps Vietnam vet, cousins of the bride’s dad and absolutely drunk. Still, I can’t remember his name.
After the simple and ever so beautiful wedding of my dear friend Jo, I boarded the shuttle bus to the reception. Sitting across the aisle from me, I struck a conversation with them. I was alone. I should probably try to be social. I found out that they were related to the bride. As for them, I used my joke of the night on them, “Contrary to popular belief, I’m not related to the bride.” See, the bride is half Filipino and there were a lot of Asians present; especially little old Asian women, they were out in full force. They laughed and found out I was a friend from college.
That afternoon, we bonded over many conversations of traveling. He was excited I was going to Australia. He was there over 40 years ago serving in the Marine Corps. He has yet to return, but his love for Oz is still strong. We talked about Europe and food among many other things before we got separated. He darted to the bar while I listened to my stomach.
We didn’t find each other again until towards the end of the reception. He was drunk and I was feeling melancholy. The whole day I’ve been introspective, but particularly during the reception, I couldn’t help but ponder. As I grabbed a seat next to him, I turned and looked at my original seat which was next to the wedding party. I then motioned my eyes a little further over to the next row where to empty seats stood. Those belonged to Kacy. Four years ago was the last time I saw her; single & having fun, now married and with child. I sighed and turned to him.
“Having a good time?”
“I’ve never seen Jo this happy,” I added.
It was true. I’ve known her since the first week of freshman year of college. I still can’t believe it’s been 9 years since we first met and here I am at her wedding. I’m the only Illini present. Four, to my knowledge, were invited and only I was able to attend. I told Jo when we last tasked on the phone many months ago, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I’m glad I didn’t because during the first dance, I saw that smile from her. The classic Jo smile that her friends know very well. But tonight, the smile was the biggest I’ve seen and it glittered the room with her joy. I could not be happier for her, her husband and their new life.
I leaned my shoulder over to him while keeping my eyes on the newly weds as they danced together in harmony, “You would know this better than I, but how come the older you get, the more meaningful weddings become?” Because it’s true, the weddings I’ve been invited to now somehow struck a chord in me. It’s not like the ones earlier in my twenties weren’t meaningful, the few that I am invited to now have become quite heartwarming.
“It’s the little things,” he said. “As you get older, you notice and value the little things more.”
He’s right. Seeing Jo’s smile was enough for me.
To my dear friend Jo and your husband Bruce, congratulations!