The whine of a sander drifts up through the floorboards, and a path of sawdust leads from the top of the basement steps, across the TV room rug, and out the back door. Knowing her father’s joy when he’s armed with tools and wood, Casey wisely assigned Dave several woodshop projects to prepare for her wedding. Slabs of freshly cut cedar are arranged on the kitchen counter for my inspection, their centers blood red, ringed with rough bark, their fragrance potent, conjuring childhood memories of hamsters nestled in aromatic shavings.
While Dave works on a cedar cupcake stand, an arbor for the marriage ceremony, and a massive frame crafted from old chestnut salvaged from our house during a renovation, I squint at my computer. Scrolling, scrolling, I skip through the years in our archive of family pictures, seeking photos for a slide show. PJ’s Aunt Christy sent me a thumb drive loaded with images of Casey’s fiancé and his family, and I have loved seeing his transformation from infant, to red-headed toddler, to a tolerant kid feigning glee over gifts of shirt after shirt on Christmas morning, to a brawny football player, to a young-twenties PJ, tending bar. Now, I gaze at shots of our funny, spirited girl as she grew from chubby little one, to budding actress, to Asian explorer, to confident store manager, and my nose prickles, tears close. I’ve said to her, “I love the wonderful woman you are, but I wish I could keep all the Caseys from every stage.”
At this moment, our daughter is at work, yet as completely as if she snuggled right next to me with an arm over my shoulder, she is here with us as we work on our projects in these weeks before her wedding.
In a way, planning for the event itself is very familiar. Much like the benefits I’ve organized over the years for Eagle Hill, I am both saved and tormented by to-do lists. Every morning, I check the pad on my bedside table, trying to decipher whatever reminders and notes I jotted down during the night while lying in bed wide-eyed, trying to convince myself I would remember my reflections, knowing I might not, and finally caving, wearily raising myself on one elbow while fumbling for a pen, and hoping I’ll be able to read whatever I scrawl in the dark.
Casey has her own to-dos, and we communicate often, cross-referencing our lists, adding, starring, and crossing-out as we go. While occasionally the mental detail whirl sparks a wish for the relief of an event completed, I try to catch myself short. This is not a gala. Our girl is getting married. Cherish these days of frequent phone calls, plans, projects, and visits. And usually, I need only that nudge.
Our friend Janet advised me, “Delegate where you can. You are the mother-of-the-bride. Be there with Casey. You don’t want these days to pass in a blur.” So, when our friend Joanie graciously offered to write out the place cards and table numbers once Casey, PJ, and I finished the seating chart, I took her up on it. Oh, the checking and double-checking on that chart! It has happened only a few times at my events at school, but I know the anguish of seeing an expectant face sag while searching for a place card that isn’t there.
Most of the important stuff is done. Casey and PJ picked up their wedding license yesterday. Dave’s brother, Steve, who is officiating the ceremony, has finished writing the service. The invitations for the rehearsal dinner arrived two days ago, and I’ve had many conversations with friends about outfits and footwear. I dropped off at the florist a carload of lanterns to be artfully entwined with succulents, white roses, and laurel leaves for the centerpieces. PJ checked the weather forecast for the 30th and no hurricanes are churning off Florida, so, while rain might douse the outdoor cocktails and wood-fired pizza station planned for the patio, we should be in good shape.
There will be last minute scurrying on the day prior to the wedding: distributing welcome bags to the various hotels, purchasing bagels and fruit for the post-wedding brunch on Saturday, and picking up cupcakes. I have changed the sheets on the beds for Tucker and Lisa and set up the Pack-and Play crib for baby Paul. Since Casey will sleep in her old room at our house on the eve of the wedding, her well-worn panda pillow-case is on her pillow (as a teenager, she cried when I threw out the threadbare matching sheets) and her Pink Bunny and Piglet are propped there too, waiting for her.