My apologies for the awkward lapse in time between parts one and two of the wedding adventures. I was kidnapped by a band of mischievous fairies who have only now released me to my writing.
As we made our way into Abbotsford, British Colombia, my only regret was that I had used the "s" word in Little Miss Avery Kate's presence. This should never have happened, and it haunted me for a full 30 hours. But it's true. I said it: "You'll get to go swimming at the hotel!"
That word firmly lodged in her brain, and throughout our trip every other sentence involved her jumping up and down begging, "When do we get to go swimming?!"
Now, for the adults in the group, the wedding was obviously the main event. It was why we were there, and our energies joyously poured into getting ready for the celebration. But the children were lured by other temptations. Such as swimming. And vending machines.
So it was unfortunate that, on Saturday morning, my sister and I casually mentioned that they could go swimming after breakfast.
It was not one of our more lucid moments.
With only a few hours until the wedding and my sister's involvement in helping the groom's family with preparations, it was ridiculous to think that we could sneak in a swim before donning the wedding finery.
When the reality hit me, I approached Miss Kate with fear and trembling: "Honey, we won't be able to go swimming until later. We'll go after the reception, though! It will be so fun to go swimming at night!" (This with excessive raising of eyebrows on my part.)
She handled it more stoically than I expected. This might have had something to do with Papa's expert iPad distraction techniques.
The morning quickly wore on, and it was soon time to prepare for the big event. The girls were bathed and curled and pressed and primped. Finally, with Dad waiting patiently at the door (I was reminded of the many, many Sunday mornings that involved Dad waiting and waiting at the front door for his girls), we headed toward the chapel.
I have since referred to this part of our trip as a taste of heaven. You know those moments when your heart simply overflows to the point of bursting? It was one of those moments. Friends and family gathered to witness the joining of two remarkable, godly people who publicly declared their devotion to God and each other with clarity and conviction.
The groom, our pastor's son, stood with his siblings and close friends surrounding him, and I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride. Tears welled as I gazed at the beautiful people before me -- people that I had the privilege of babysitting long ago. People who played dress-up and giggled wildly and wore baffling cloth diapers that required the use of pins. People who provided a nurturing environment for a teenage girl to learn about caring for others.
These people, grown. Strong, beautiful and faithful.
And so the bride and groom became one. We laughed and cried as the bridal party made their way toward the reception hall.
It was at this point that I again regretted the use of the "s" word. Miss Kate, squirming from the pew onto my lap hissed, "Do we get to go swimming now?"
I distracted her with Altoids and informed her that we would go after the reception.
We made our way to the reception, settled down at a table and attempted to mingle pleasantly while the hissing continued. "When do we get to go swimming?" She was rather offended when she realized that a reception usually lasts a number of hours. Nonetheless, she persisted in reminding me with alarming regularity that we were going to go swimming right after the reception.
The bride and groom took the dance floor, and my girl was finally distracted. She gazed on the couple with her sister and cousin nearby, and I could imagine their little hearts fluttering with the tender hope of what might someday be in store for them.
When the invitation was issued for everyone to join in, we made our way to the dance floor. Miss Kate adamantly declared that she would not dance and firmly planted herself at the table. And so my sister, mom and I approached the floor with Bethie and Alainna, just in time to learn the hustle. The groom's sister, Sarah, led us all with charming, clear instructions (she's a teacher and truly sparkled in this role) and we attempted to follow.
For some reason I have always thought of myself as somewhat coordinated and at least slightly in shape. This hustle quickly proved otherwise. I am neither. But we sure had a lot of fun.
We made our way back to the table where Miss Kate was waiting. I anticipated her demand. "We'll still be at the reception for a while, honey. But think of how fun it will be to swim after your bedtime! You'll be up so late!" I got some mileage out of that one. We even watched her sneak in a dance with Papa (although she still insists that she did not dance).
At last the toasts were made and the bride and groom were whisked away. I glanced at the clock and was a tad nervous on Miss Kate's behalf. It was 9:30. The pool would close at 10:00. There were still many people with whom I had hoped to visit, but a girl clinging to a swimsuit and a promise is not to be crossed.
We raced to the hotel with fifteen minutes to spare. I felt guilty. Here she'd been waiting all weekend for this moment, and I hand her a measly fifteen minutes. But she slipped into her swimsuit and threw herself into that pool as though she were the happiest creature on earth.
As the girls splashed and giggled, my sister's mother-in-law joined us with a perfect bit of good news. She'd approached the front desk and explained the girls' thwarted swimming plans. The security guard kindly offered to keep the pool open until 10:30. Just for us. The girls were over the moon. A whole pool, all to themselves. At night. When they were supposed to be sleeping.
Needless to say, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We basked in the joy of childhood bliss and wedding memories, savoring the splashing little women who will all too soon be creating wedding memories of their own.
Sunday morning dawned and our weekend drew to a close. We piled back into the car, said our goodbyes and headed down toward the border. We weren't quite as nervous about the crossing on this end. The guard feigned displeasure and, upon viewing a back seat full of wild little girls demanded, "Where are you taking these brats?"
I sighed just one perfect word: "Home." And we giggled our way back into the country.