We lived through it.
Oh, that's not the most ringing sound that comes to my mind when I remember yesterday. But it was a thought that lingered into the night. There were a few events to link together, and while everything did not go perfectly, it went well enough. We were happy. Our friends seemed to enjoy themselves. And at the end, the rabbis declared us married.
Maryann was absolutely wonderful to show up a couple of hours early to our house, and help me with my tie. She, too, got dressed right along with us. Between the two of them, the tie morphed into something beautiful: the perfect knot, the correct length. And then she drove us to the synagogue. A good thing, too, as my hands were beginning to shake.
When we got to the side entrance of Temple Sinai -- a trifle early, I must admit -- the entrance wasn't open. But Paul Geduldig had given me the cell phone of the janitor inside. I called him, and he very nicely opened the door. Soon afterwards, guests began streaming through the cocked door. I had the fleeting belief that we should have been hidden, and then figured, what the hell (a theme that would be used several times that day), smiled, greeted them all with hugs, and posed for photos.
Rabbi Mates-Muchin came in and immediately took charge. At that point, I began to understand the progression of events. Rabbi Chester then came in, and we waited in his office, which was adjacent to Harpham Chapel, waiting for guests to go into the chapel and the ceremony to start.
Rabbi Chester grabbed friends Mark Snyder and Dawn Kepler and, according to our wishes, asked them to be our witnesses in signing the ketubah (and then keeping it for us).
So we were ready to go. Except for one thing: one son was late. Could it be that he was reluctant to take part in a religious ceremony? Could it be that he's always late? We decided the latter, and heard that Jamie and Mark were standing by the entrance to make sure he and his date were ushered in immediately. When we finally heard that they had arrived 10 minutes later, we heaved a sigh of relief, jointly. We were ready.
We inched into the chapel, and then slowly walked toward the rabbis. Val smiled at the guests located on each side, while I kept my eyes on the target and felt gratified to find that my legs could and did take me there. Rabbi Mates-Muchin spoke a bunch of Hebrew and then pointed to the ketubah, which lay there on the table in its colorful, arborant glory. Val signed her legal name in Hebrew as well as English. When it was my turn, I took out my trusty piece of paper, and laboriously copied the Hebrew, Chava bat Abraham v' Sarah (Eve, daughter of Abraham and Sarah). It looked longer than it should have been. I then signed my usual signature down below. Then, Mark stepped up while whispering to Val, do I sign it in Hebrew? She replied in the affirmative, he wrote quickly, and then Dawn followed. The rabbis then stepped up and wrote their names as well.
After the completion of the contract, we then stepped forward and walked around each other three-and-a-half times. Then we stepped under the chuppah with the rabbis, and James and Rick were invited up. They shared the space with us as I spoke the vows. Val repeated them to me, and we placed the gleaming white gold rings on each other's hands.
This ring is the symbol
Of All that I am
And all that I have.
I bring them to this partnership with you.
Ours is a union of equal partners,
Partners in love, in mercy, and in kindness,
Partners through good times and bad.
I pledge to you my goodwill
And my whole heart in the maintenance of this partnership,
In full knowledge
That life brings sorrows as well as joy,
And that at its end are the hardships of aging and death.
Our tradition commands us: "Choose Life."
Ours is a partnership for life.
Here before these witnesses and this congregation today,
I give you this ring in partnership and love.
The rabbis explained how the four posts of the chuppah represent the home we will build.
We stepped on the glasses successfully with our heels, and everyone exclaimed "Mazel Tov!"
We smiled from ears-to-ears and walked down the aisle. Our friends joined us, congratulated us, and took hundreds of photos with their itsy-bitsy digital cameras.
We then walked across the street to the reception, while whispering to each other, "We did it!"
I never thought I'd reach this day. I never thought I'd be so happy. If you asked me why it took so long in my life to reach this stage in my life, I'd answer, it just does.