Let’s Talk About Love

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wedding ABy Irene Conlan —

My youngest son is getting married tomorrow and I have the amazing privilege of being the officiant at the wedding. I have officiated at several hundred weddings but this is so amazingly special. It is not the beginning nor the end of a love story. It’s a declaration. A confirmation. It’s a saying “yes” to a great love.

Gina and Kevin met on line—on FaceBook, actually. They knew a lot of the same people because both grew up in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. After some chatting on FaceBook they decided it was time to meet. And that happened exactly three years ago tomorrow—wedding day.

A couple of weeks later, he called me (he was living in California then) to say, “Mom, I think I’m in love.” Woah! Those words got my attention because Kevin doesn’t use them lightly.

At Easter I met Gina and  there was something beautiful between them. That was obvious. And some months later, when Gina dropped everything to go to California to be with Kevin, I was pretty convinced that there was something lasting and special here. She and Jake, her youngest son, were there for over a year.

And I watched this love grow.

Then Kevin dropped everything in California to move back to Arizona where her family is. She has two beautiful almost grown-up-sons plus  Jake who is now 9 and she needed to be where they are. He has two beautiful almost grown-up-sons who come here during vacations. It is a challenging dynamic but there is plenty of love to make it work and to get through the tough times that arise whenever two families blend.

I have watched them have wonderful times. They are both great cooks and they love having people over. I am always welcome there and always feel loved. They have created a “safe place, a loving place, a happy place” together.

I have watched them have not-so-wonderful times with major challenges. They work it out together.

I have watched them have some real doozies of disagreements. They are both quick to forgive and look at both sides. Most of the time they laugh about it later.

I have watched them grow more and more in love. Three years have passed and a couple of weeks ago Kevin shared with me that he is the luckiest man and that he wakes up every morning even more in love with Gina. Gina doesn’t have to say anything. Her eyes say it all.

Those who think love is sweet and simple just don’t “get it.” Love is the “whole enchilada” — the good, the bad, the ugly and getting through it together. It is not a fairy tale. It is life with all its ups and downs faced together. It is comprised of smiles and tears, laughter and anger, change and adjustment—met head on as a unit. It is remaining true to who you are as an individual and growing and changing as a couple. It can be messy and complex.

Gina and Kevin understand this.

There is a saying, “I’m not losing a son. I am gaining a daughter,” and this has never been more true. I always wanted a daughter in addition to the two sons I love with all my heart. If I could design a daughter I would want her to be just like Gina. I am so delighted to welcome another Mrs. Conlan into our family And I see Kevin enfolded by her loving family and it brings tears of joy.

So the wedding is tomorrow. And I get to lead them to their “I dos.”

It is a love story. The wedding is the declaration of love. The life they begin together is, as the late Paul Harvey used to saym “The rest of the story.

How blessed I am to get to be a part of it.

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