September 21, 2012. 1 pm. Walking around the restaurant that I'd rented, checking the carefully worked out seating arrangement, I saw my stepdad's name on a beautiful shiny plate. This would be his seat. This is where he would get to enjoy the show tonight. I couldn't believe it that after having been separated from my mother for so many years, he and she would get to shake hands again and, who knows, somehow even be glad to finally look each other in the eye after all that time. Sometimes a wedding is all it takes. His willingness to be my guest and my Mom's consent to invite him in the first place added a special layer to what I knew, standing there in the restaurant, was bound to be a memorable day. His son would be my witness. My stepdad would be there, too. All was perfect.
4 p.m. T-minus one hour. Me and my bride-to-be went to our hotel, located less than a mile from city hall, where we were greeted by my uncle and Angie's brother. We'd been stuck in traffic and unexpectedly detained (something to do with the dress), so you can imagine we were relieved we'd made it to the hotel in time. Well, only just. But we wouldn't be late for our own wedding like some folks on television, that much I knew. And then disaster struck. While we were heading toward the exit, my brother arrived at the hotel crying and clearly very upset. That's when I knew. I just knew. My brother didn't say anything, but as he and his wife stepped into the elevator to go to their room to get dressed, the message was clear: 'Don't ask. The show must go on. Go to city hall.'
Do you know what it's like to see a sunny day getting overshadowed by the darkest clouds you've ever seen? Well, I guess that's what happened on September 21st, but I have to tell you, my brother kept a brave face on it all and wanted me to continue with the wedding and not ask a single thing. He was protecting me. This was my day. I guess I wasn't even supposed to see him cry when I did in the hotel lobby. He didn't expect us to be late as well. So he kept his mouth shut during the ceremony, and laughed out loud when he saw his crazy big brother surprise all and sundry with a Bollywood performance that would've made his Granny, God bless her soul, pee in her pants and not care about it. I saw him laugh when I knew he was sad, too, and that night over dinner he gave the most beautiful speech I'd heard in a long time. It was heartfelt and sincere, and I was so proud of him. I still am.
I visited his father a couple of times at the hospital. It wasn't a pretty sight, so I won't tell you about it. Suffice it to say that he was in pain, horrible pain, and most of the time didn't know who I was. He kept asking about his son, his grandson, and Randy (that's me). All I could do was hold his hand and kiss him on the forehead. He was 59 when he left this earth and although he was the most stubborn and unapproachable man I've ever met, he will be missed. A week before he died, my Mom phoned me and said she wanted to see him one more time. I'm glad she did. It's ironic that she didn't make it in time when her parents died in hospital but she did get to say goodbye to the man she hadn't spoken to in years.
It's called closure, and so is this.
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