There are days or moments that change our lives. I am about to have one any day now as I wait for the birth of my son. It’s all quiet on the western front today as Kate and I are watching sports, cleaning the house, doing chores, etc. I think we have a few days till go time…but the mood of the house has certainly changed. Knowing everything could change at any moment has had me reflecting back on the best day of my life:
The day I got married.
Rain was in the forecast but it was a perfect autumn day in Bolton Landing, NY. I was in my back yard throwing a baseball with my best man Kurt who was doing his best to keep my nerves calm. I suffer from panic attacks and today I was in full force. Upset stomach, light-headed, weak knees, and I was rambling on about nothing just to keep my mind from racing out of control. We made our way to Rogers Park where I had grown up swimming in the waters of Lake George every summer of my life. This is where I played basketball, tennis, frisbee, and saw concerts and plays. Today, however, something completely different was going to happen there for me…I was going to get married.
Kurt and I ran extension chords through the park, set up the microphone, arranged chairs, and attempted to tie bows around trees. I freaked out. “What are we doing?!” I yelled. “I have no idea how to tie a nice bow around a tree.” Kurt saw I was freaking and immediately calmed me down and cracked a few jokes. Just then my buddy Joey showed up. Joe and I have known each other since we were 9 and our rapport hasn’t changed one bit. “Que paso amigo?” Joe called from his rented Mustang in a thick Midwestern drawl. Joe had come a week early with the intent on doing 3 things: drink beer, do burnouts on curvy mountain roads, and be at my wedding. Kurt explained that I was a bit on edge and that he thought I needed a drink. Joe then offered a solution that he has offered for many crossroads in my life, “you want some Crown?” Yes. Yes Joey I want some Crown. Joe popped the trunk of his Mustang, the tires still hot from the skid marks left pulling into the park, and in the trunk were 2 styrofoam coolers. He pulled a bottle of Crown Royal from 1 which the 3 of us quickly took swigs from, and then produced 3 beers from the other. Pop. Fizzzzzzz. Gulp, gulp, gulp. Ahhhhhh. Repeat. We cracked 3 new sets of cans. All three of us felt a sigh of relaxation sweep over us. Then Joey, who is reminiscent of “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski, imparted phenomenal advice to me. He put a hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said these words or wisdom: “Shit man…sometimes there just aint shit you can do about shit…you know? Shit.” Never have truer words been spoken.
Soon Kurt and I were throwing our tuxes on and rushing…I made us late. We had gotten sunburns…but that was an issue for tomorrow…not today. We hurried back to the park and found that everyone was already there. Oh crap. We are late. I was pale white. Jello kneed. Kate, unbeknownst to me, drove past and said I looked like a ghost. I ducked into Lakeside Lodge with my family to wait for the go ahead call. Art, the owner, took one look at me and poured a giant whiskey. “A little liquid courage,” he said as he passed the libation my way. I slowly choked down a bit of it but my nerves were shot. I was scared out of my mind. What if I had to pee during the ceremony? Can I excuse myself from my own wedding? Would I go back to Lakeside or just duck behind a tree? What happens if I faint? I’m sweating. I feel sick.
The call came…it was time.
We lined up at the designated spot by the museum and all hell broke loose. My nephew made a bee-line for the swings, my sister followed, my parents were in the wrong spot and talking to the future brother-in-law and his wife, and I was going crazy. Is that the music? Its go time! I turned to the group and loudly uttered these words, “Everyone, I love you but shut the fuck up!” The group looked at me. “Lets get in our places and do this wedding!” Nice tone to start a wedding. I took a deep breath, exhaled, took a parent in each hand, and began walking. “Relax,” my dad said. “I’m freaking out,” I replied. He then said, “It’s just a wedding, rock it out with your cock out.” I looked over at him in disbelief! Did my dad just say what I thought he said? “Dad!” Mom chimed in, “oh relax Ryan your father is right.” We all chuckled and made our way to the front of the crowd. The precession seemed to go on forever! How many people were in this wedding party? Oh…right…its my wedding party. Jeez. My knees locked. Sweat poured down my face. I felt sick. I think…yup…I have to pee…I am going to have to excuse myself…I’ll just duck behind that tree over there and…
Then my life changed.
For the rest of my life I will never forget the way Kate looked as she ascended the hill through Rogers Park. The predicted rain had blown through and nothing but gorgeous Adirondack skies lit her angelic face as she and her parents walked towards me. The sun hovered over Cat Mountain surrounding her in warm pink light. Her dress was stunning. She was glowing. She was smiling bigger than I had ever seen her smile. She was amazing! All fear left my body and I was consumed by the very thing that inspired me to ask her to marry me…uncontrollable love.
The ceremony was beautiful and fun. We wrote our own vows which we recited to each other for the first time in front of our friends and family. They were freakishly similar. Though…I did vow to “always blame my gas on the cat or a paper mill.” What had felt like hours now turned to seconds and suddenly my uncle said “you may now kiss the bride.” It was a tear-filled kiss that I will remember forever. There was silence and I wasn’t sure what to do next. Everyone was staring at us! There was no music…what do we do? Suddenly I shouted, “Okay…bye!” I waved my hand and jogged off down the aisle with Kate. It was awkwardly hilarious. We had planned the whole wedding ourselves but never come up with a plan for how to exit the ceremony.
The rest of the night is a whirlwind of toasts, dances, stories, and fun. Too many to pack into one post on a blog. A story for another time perhaps. What is important is that it was the best day of my life. It was the happiest day of my life. I married my best friend…and now I am about to have a baby with her. Like the day of my wedding I am having tons of tiny panic attacks every time Kate holds her belly and breathes through a contraction. They are still sporadic and painless…but it is the start of what is inevitable…a birth. What if I have to pee during the birth? What if I pass out? What if I vomit? I’m not good with blood! Do I have to cut the cord? What if I can’t be enough help for Kate? What if? What if?!! WHAT IF?!!!
“Shit man…sometimes there aint shit you can do about shit…you know? Shit.” Everything will be fine. Breathe. Imagine how beautiful Zig will be once he is here…like Kate in her wedding dress; perfect in my eyes.