To Have Loved...

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My Sister's Wedding

Mom, Dad and I arrived at O’Hare International Airport early Friday afternoon and Stacy was meeting us there with her driver. The rest of our family would head straight to the hotel as they arrive where the wedding reception will be held the next night.

“Stacy!” I yelled as I saw her after grabbing our bags.

“Sarah!” she yelled back and we hugged as we reached each other. She then gave Mom and Dad a hug as well. “Mom, Ryan…it’s good to see you again!”

Stacy still can’t call our father, Dad, and it’s hard sometimes to hear her call him by his name or just as Father. She explained it to me once and I get it, but I wish she could move forward and allow him in.

“Come on, Aaron is waiting with the car,” she led us out to the pick-up location outside the terminal.

“Are you excited about tomorrow?” I asked.

“Excited, nervous, worried…I think I have felt every emotion there is,” Stacy answered.

“Honey, everything is going to be perfect, do not worry yourself and just enjoy it,” Mom reassured her.

“When is everyone else arriving?” she asked.

“They’ll be arriving later this afternoon and tomorrow morning,” Dad answered her.

“I hope Vicky and Tom get here on time for the rehearsal at 5:00. What about Ian? Is he still coming?”

“Vicky and Tom should be here in plenty of time,” Mom answered.

“Ian will meet us at the restaurant after the rehearsal. He had classes this afternoon and will fly out afterwards,” I told her. Mom gave me a strange look as she knew that we broke up earlier this year and I just shook my head for her to not say anything.

“OK, well I’m glad he is able to make it. I’m sure you’ll be excited to see him again,” she said. I just nodded my head and gave her a smile.

We went out for a late lunch and caught each other up on what has been going on in our lives over the last month or so since we had seen other last. Jake joined us at the restaurant and joined in the conversation after kissing Stacy. They are so cute together. He looks at her with so much love and I hope someday I can have that.

Aaron took us to the hotel to check-in and drop our bags off in our room. Mom and Dad had one room, while Ian and I had the room next door. Stacy booked our rooms and didn’t ask about our sleeping arrangements, but at least there are two beds in the room.

We arrived at the church just before 5:00 and met Stacy, Jake and the rest of her wedding party, which included our cousins Vicky and Tom; Jake’s sister and new brother-in-law; and Jake’s best friend, Jordan, who would be the best man and my partner for the weekend. Mom, Dad and Connie, Jake’s mom, were also there.

We went through the ceremony and were given our instructions to follow before, during and after the ceremony. The guys joked around a lot, but the priest put them in their places and we got through it after an hour or so. We also listened to the musicians practice through all their songs and Stacy did a good job picking out music.

We headed to the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner and as we pulled up and got out of the cars, I saw Ian leaning against the wall by the door. I ran up to him and gave him a big hug, as Stacy would have expected me to, and he kissed me, which shocked me at first, but then I relaxed and smiled.

“Ian, it’s good to see you again, I’m glad you could join us,” Jake said as he came over and shook Ian’s hand.

“Glad to be here,” Ian said and gave Stacy a hug after shaking hands with Jake.

Jake ushered us all into the restaurant and led us to a private room that was just for the family. Before I could grab a seat, my mother grabbed my arm and asked me to join her in the restroom.

“So…,” she started tapping her toes on the ground and her arms crossed in front of her.

“So…?” I asked, trying to avoid the conversation.

“You and Ian? Is there something I should know? I thought you two broke up back in January?” She kept asking questions.

“We did, we are, it’s complicated Mom.” She gave me a curious look and I went on, “Ian and I did break up in January, but I couldn’t find a way to tell Stacy since she was so happy and I didn’t want to ruin that. Every time she asks about him, I tell her that we’re good, but it’s been hard being away from each other.”

“So then why is he here?”

“Stacy and Jake invited him. I told her that I didn’t think he could come, but I told her I would ask him. After talking to him, he agreed, but I have to tell her the truth as soon as possible.”

“You should have told her months ago Sarah. Do you think you can get through the next couple of days?”

“Yes Mom, I’ll be fine. He is obviously playing along and I won’t let that change things between us.”

“I don’t agree with this, but I won’t say anything. Just be careful honey,” she said as she gave me a hug.

“I will Mom.”

We rejoined the group and enjoyed dinner together as a family – our new extended family. We talked, shared stories, laughed and cried. I couldn’t help but watch Stacy and Jake throughout the evening and wished that would be me someday.

We said our goodbyes after dinner and headed back to the hotel. Mom and Dad went up to their room, while Ian, Vicky, Tom and I went to the pool area to check it out. Ian and I kept up our appearances as I hadn’t even told Vicky about us, and it was very awkward at times. Vicky and Tom eventually headed to their rooms leaving Ian and I alone.

“So, who knows the truth in this family?” Ian asked straight to the point.

“My Mom,” I answered and looked down.

“No one else?” I shook my head and he sighed.

“I checked-in earlier before coming to the restaurant,” he trailed off.

“You did? Did they give you the key to the room?”

He nodded, “They did. I noticed your things in there, so I’m guessing we are sharing a room?”

“Yes, we are. Stacy booked the rooms and I didn’t know it until I checked in earlier myself. At least there are two beds, so we won’t have to share.”

“Yeah, that’s a good thing.” Hearing the way he said that sent a pain through my heart. “We better head up and get some sleep; it’s going to be a long day tomorrow.” I nodded and followed him up to the room.

******

The next morning, we did our own thing and later joined my parents for brunch before we headed off to get ready for the day. Mom didn’t say anything, but I could tell she wanted to. We exchanged a few glances between us, but nothing was said out loud.

After brunch, we went back up to the rooms and grabbed our clothes for the wedding and headed out. Ian, Dad, and Tom went over to Jake and Stacy’s place to get ready, while Mom, Vicky, and I went to meet Stacy at the salon. My grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were meeting us at the church.

At the salon, Stacy treated us to manicures and pedicures; we got our hair styled and our make-up done by professionals. A photographer was taking pictures of us getting ready through everything we did. “It must be nice to have money,” I thought to myself. “But I loved every minute of this special treatment!”

We headed over the church to get our dresses on and to prepare for the wedding. After the bridesmaids got dressed, Mom and I helped Stacy with her dress before Mom gave her a kiss and left us alone. I turned around and watched Stacy as she stared at herself in the mirror lost in her own thoughts until I got her attention.

“I’m sorry Sarah, what were you saying?”

“I said it’s time to finish getting ready. The ceremony is about to start.”

“OK, I’ll be finished in a just a minute.”

“Hurry up! You don’t want Jake to think you left him at the later, do you?” I chuckled and left the room.

I headed over to the rest of the bridal party as they were getting in place as the music was playing. The guys were already in place in the front of the church and it was just Vicky, Lizzie, me and my Dad standing here.

Vicky and Lizzie began their walks down the aisle and I caught a glimpse of Stacy hugging our Dad as I started walking. When I reached the front and took my place, the music changed and I watched as my beautiful older sister walked down the aisle with our Dad and shed a few tears of happiness. I glanced at Jake who was trying to keep his tears in check as he plastered on the biggest smile I’ve ever seen him give.

At one point, I glanced over at Ian sitting behind my grandparents and he was just staring back at me with a smile on his face. I smiled back and wished that we were still together as I really missed that smile. I shook the thought from my head and focused on my sister and new husband as they recited their vows and exchanged rings.

The ceremony was beautiful and I was so blessed to be a part of it. We took a lot of pictures afterwards and eventually headed to the hotel for dinner and the dance. Ian, being a gentleman, escorted me into the reception hall and we visited with several family members. He knew my dad’s family from back home, but I introduced him to my mom’s family from Wisconsin.

Throughout the evening, Ian and I danced together and talked a lot. It almost seemed like old times and I had a really good time with him. We laughed, shared some memories, and even held hands as we walked around the room visiting various people. I would catch him watching me as I danced with Jordan when I had to or dancing with my sister and Vicky.

After the Grand March and our kissing archway, Stacy and Dad shared the Father/Daughter dance. Mom and I watched them and I know Stacy remembered something from our childhood when I saw her kick off her shoes and stand on Dad’s toes like she did when we were little. Mom put her arm around me as we both smiled and started to cry watching them.

We heard Stacy tell Dad that she was sorry about everything and how much she missed him and loved him and I heard her call him ‘Daddy’ for the first time since we had all been reunited. As they were hugging and crying, Mom and I went over and joined them in a group hug. It was probably the most emotional I’ve ever been, but it felt wonderful.

After we finally broke apart, Jake came over and gave Stacy a hug and asked if she was OK before dancing with his mother. Ian came over to my side and wrapped his arms around me as I laid my head on his shoulder. I breathed in his scent and wanted to freeze time, but I knew I couldn’t, but I still had the rest of tonight.

After saying goodnight to Stacy and Jake, we helped load up their gifts and decorations into their cars that Dylan and Aaron brought so they didn’t have to deal with it in the morning. Ian and I said goodnight to my parents and headed to our room.

“Thank you Ian. I had a really good time tonight and am glad you were there.” I smiled up at him.

“I had a good time as well,” he said as he smiled back.

I went towards the bathroom to get ready for bed, but just before I got there, Ian grabbed my arm, turning me around to face him and pressed his lips to mine. At first I went to push away, but then I melted into the kiss and savored every moment of it.

When we broke apart, I looked up at him and we stared at each other in silence. “I’m sorry Sarah,” Ian said breaking the silence.

“Don’t be Ian, it’s OK.”

“No it’s not. I shouldn’t have done that, but I couldn’t stop myself.”

“Ian…I could have, but didn’t stop it either. I know this won’t change anything between us, but I don’t regret it either.” I smiled up at him again.

He returned the smile before going to his side of the room. I turned back around and went into the bathroom. I got into the shower and my emotions got the best of me and I started crying. I cried at the memories of losing my sister and then finding her again; I cried over losing Ian; I cried over the events of the evening; and I cried because I had no clue what the future was going to hold for me after tonight.

I regained my composure, finished my shower, put my pajamas on, brushed my teeth and climbed into bed. I watched Ian go to the bathroom and then I laid down. I was so exhausted that I must have fallen asleep before Ian returned to his bed as I never heard him.

******

The next morning I woke up as Ian was getting his things together. I sat up and stretched.

“Good morning, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he said.

“Good morning. It’s OK; I need to get up anyway.”

“Well, I’m going to head down to the restaurant to wait for everyone while you get ready,” he said as he headed to the door.

“See you there,” I replied as he closed the door.

I got up, grabbed my clothes and went into the bathroom. After getting dressed, brushing my teeth and hair, I gathered up all my belongings and made sure I had everything ready to go. After brunch with Stacy and Jake, we were going to the airport to head home.

I met everyone in the restaurant and we talked while waiting for the guests of honor to arrive. After they did, we all ate and had a great time reminiscing about the night before and hearing about the trip that they were going to take for their honeymoon: to Hawaii.

We went back to our rooms and gathered our belongings and headed out to the cars that were waiting for us. After arriving at the airport, we all said our goodbyes and headed towards our planes as we were all going on different ones.

I walked with Ian until we reached his gate and we said our goodbyes. “Thank you again, Ian. I really appreciated you doing this and I will tell Stacy and the rest of family after she gets back from Hawaii.”

“You are welcome Sarah. It was good to see you again.”

We hugged one last time and I gave him a wave as he headed to his seat and I took off to meet my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins at our gate. “This was a great weekend!” I thought to myself and smiled.

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