When I was a little girl, I used to be anxious about being able to find a nice boy to marry. So anxious that I told my dad (who was, at that point, already divorced from my mom) that he had to let me marry him when I grew up. So anxious that my mom had to tell me that G-d makes a special match for everyone. He doesn’t always make it obvious who we should choose — it’s like a treasure hunt in the sandbox — but there is definitely someone for everyone.
Never mind that I already had a boyfriend in preschool. Eric and I always set our sleeping mats next to each other at nap time, and at the end of each school day, he would tell his mother what a pretty dress and what pretty bows I wore. We even kissed each other once or twice. I had a boyfriend in sixth grade, too — or, at least, Ryan would have become a boyfriend if I hadn’t had to move away at the end of the year. He and I were both taking classes in the honors program, and he was the only sixth grade violinist in the advanced orchestra, but some of the kids made fun of him because he was slightly overweight and cried once in front of the class. We never kissed, but we did exchange white roses as part of the school Valentine’s Day fundraiser. (I found a picture of him on Facebook a few years ago, and let me tell you — he turned into a very handsome man. I’m a little sad that fish got away.)
Anyway, I moved around as a kid. A lot. I attended eight different schools from kindergarten to my senior year of high school, and that certainly didn’t help with any budding romances. Neither did the fact that there weren’t any guys worth dating at my first high school, anyway — or that the two eligible guys at my second high school were already taken. And no surprise — Ryan (a different Ryan) was the leading man in all the school drama productions, and quite tall and handsome — taller than me, in fact, which was no small feat, given that I am 6’1″. I was often cast as his leading lady, and he was very kind to me backstage — once, during a performance of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, I was in pain and drugged up and crying backstage, and he cheered me up by dancing a silly dwarf fairy dance in his 19th-century pajama gown costume complete with long, pointy nightcap. But, as I said, he was already taken. As was Jack, another fellow performer who was an accomplished pianist and who gave divine massages to all his castmates.
Then came college, where I had a few crushes, but let’s face it — at The College On The Hill, there really isn’t all that much time to date if you care about graduating with Highest Honors and being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. (I managed both.) Switzerland also failed to yield a boyfriend, as my crush was an athiest and a movie fanatic and I was religious and not much a fan of cinema. We did have fun teaching each other naughty, classroom-unfriendly expressions in our respective native languages, though.
“But it’s okay,” everyone would tell me when I complained. “Right now you should just focus on your education. You have plenty of time to date later, when you’re finished with your degree and you know what you want to do and where you want to live. That’s the time to settle down.”
Except that wasn’t the time to settle down — that was the time to start fighting cancer. And not just any run-of-the-mill, it’ll-go-into-remission cancer — this was we’ll-keep-you-alive-as-long-as-possible cancer. So as all my friends began to marry, I was in and out of the hospital, trying desperately to keep my health together. I missed Rosie’s wedding in Spain, Tessa’s wedding in Geneva, Shalhevet’s wedding in Israel…
Once I moved back to the States, though, there were some closer-to-home weddings that were more feasible from a travel perspective. But if they were feasible distance-wise, were they feasible health-wise? A wedding is, after all, the bride’s day. All eyes should be on her. You don’t want to become the center of attention just because this may be the last time your friends see you before you die. You don’t want to have a seizure during Here Comes the Bride (even if there are plenty of doctors and nurses in the house) or pass out on your way down from giving the Scripture reading. Thankfully, neither of these happened during my “longest friend”‘s wedding. (She’s not actually my “longest friend” — my college roommate Devon has her beat by just a little bit — but she’s close.) I did, however, end up having to wear my stepfather’s athletic shoes to my friend Sarah’s wedding because my feet were too swollen to fit in any other shoes. The choice to attend a wedding while sick with cancer is sure not an easy one.