Seven years ago, while living in New York City, my family connected with one of the most generous, outgoing, and hilarious individuals through the Sunday School program at our church. When his boyfriend moved out to Portland, Oregon, and he followed…we followed. The two of them are the reason that we moved out to Portland, and the reason that my sisters, mother, and I are still standing on our feet today.
Last year, after my mother lost her job and we couldn’t afford to stay in our apartment any longer, they took us into their home and our family gained three new members: the two of them and their dog. Those seven months were unforgettable. Even though there were added of chores and household duties, and the commute to my school was tripled, it was a period of my life that I will always cherish. I especially remember our nightly family dinners, filled with abundant love and laughter. During our stay, the two of them got engaged and as an all-girl family, we were more than happy to contribute with our excessive excitement and willingness to participate in cake tastings and other wedding planning processes.
This past weekend, in a location with breathtaking views of two of Oregon’s most beautiful mountains, in perfect weather, the wedding took place. About a month ago, my sisters and I were asked to learn the song “The Power of Two” by the Indigo Girls and play our guitars and sing during their ring exchange. Although we had never heard the song before, we were so excited to give our artistic all to the most important men in our life.
During the seven months we lived with them, we would always review our days and share our “Roses and Thorns”—the best and the worst part of your day—at the dinner table. Driving back from the wedding around 11 p.m., my feet sore from dancing, my voice hoarse from singing during the ceremony and the party, and my eyes concentrated on driving on the dark roads back to Portland, I tried to pick my roses and thorns of the whole wedding.
My thorn: The fact that I didn’t meet a single person at the wedding who had not cried multiple hours of the day because of how meaningful and influential the two grooms were on our life. Also, that my sisters and I had spent a good hour perfecting our eye makeup all so that we could smear it within the first couple minutes of seeing them holding hands and walking down the aisle in their perfectly fitted suits.
My rose: That every single person I met at the wedding cared so deeply for the two grooms. These men had such a deep influence on the lives of everyone who was there—they made all of us who we are today. Overall, the most amazing aspect of the wedding was the atmosphere. Despite (or maybe partly because of) the many tears shed, there was an environment of so much trust within each of our hearts. We all felt vulnerable and grateful for these amazing men.
After my parents divorced, I spent hours crying and praying that my mother and father would reconnect and marry again. As time passed, I realized that this was an unrealistic wish and that they were completely incompatible. However, although I realized this, a part of me has always missed being a “normal” family, and I’ve been left frustrated with how broken the dynamics often felt. At the wedding, right before my mother gave her toast, the photographers pulled my sisters and me out to the small field in front of the most amazing sunset for “family photos” (the grooms included). While we were taking pictures of the six of us jumping in the air or all doing splits in the grass, tears began to well up in my eyes because of how blessed I felt. For the first time, it really hit me that I don’t need to miss having a “normal” family. The family that I have right now, however unusual it may be, is one that I am forever grateful for. I will always credit this family for shaping me into the woman I am becoming.
So…yes, I am that teenage girl who likes to disagree with her mother and roll her eyes when called to the dinner table every night to share my roses and thorns…but I am also that girl who loves her family and urges you to just be gracious at all times, especially toward those around you who love you for who you are. The love between the two grooms was real. It was true. It was beautiful. I know how cheesy this post may sound to you all, but just thinking about how they looked at each other while we sang our song at their ceremony brings tears to my eyes.
To all of you out there, go into your future with determination and compassion, and always remember to look back and be thankful for your family and friends. Also, crying is completely okay and tears can be powerful and strengthening—for they bring out honest and vulnerable emotions that create an unforgettable and exhilarating experience.