As the days ticked by until my wedding, morning twilight frequently found me sitting in pajamas with red spectacles and a messy bun, sipping from a large mug of coffee not quite large enough. October arrived, and my days kept starting earlier, often before sunrise as a random thought tied to the coming festivities stirred me awake…
“Ask Jason if we can borrow his suburban on Friday for transport.”
“Ensure Aaron has his original birth certificate for when we pick up the license.”
“Buy snarky t-shirts for the wedding coordinators and volunteers.”
“Create ‘thank you’s’ for friends who are hosting other friends for the wedding.”
With each irksome thought, I would rise from bed, prep the coffee, and walk our puppy, returning to the apartment to address the task that had visited that morning before beginning my work day.
It would be easy to look at the way I walked towards our wedding and think, “That girl is wound too tight. She cares about all this too much.”
But for anyone who has fought for a longing dearly, whether it was realized or not, I know you recognize the unbidden early morning nesting of someone nurturing hope in her own heart.
For me, the details became a way to stay present with a yearning so massive I feared it might crush me—not a longing for marriage per se, but a longing for the universe to be a place where love holds us across time and the hard work of building our lives in community is still kissed with a touch of divine magic.
This wedding wasn’t about Aaron for me. It was about believing that the fabric of the universe is goodness. I know, real casual low stakes kind of stuff.
Whether you carry hope for a wedding, a career move, or a new friendship, the truth is this: all hope is an act of risk, and that means all hope is an act of mothering.
With hope, there is no guarantee that the longing within will find fulfillment. But I have learned that to nurse my hope, to sing over it and rock it to sleep sweetly each night, to arise when it fusses and feed it with what it needs—those acts in and of themselves have transformative power. Because every time we tend to our hope, we not only expand our own capacity to love, but we also venture into a more wild and expansive terrain where love operates on a larger scale. And the more room we leave for love, the more people get to participate in love’s reach.
The night of our wedding, my grandfather took my hand unexpectedly and asked me for a dance. As Aaron led his mother off of the dance floor, I led my grandfather on. Soon, we were surrounded by a host of guests who had come to mark the evening with us, people literally spilling off the dance floor because there wasn’t enough space for all of us.
From the center of the room, I watched PopPop’s eyes as we twirled and he took in a sea of faces gathered in part because he and MyPatty had also risked for love some sixty years ago. And in PopPop’s face, I saw everything I have been nurturing within my own heart these last few weeks, and months, and years:
This story we are all telling together, it’s a good one.
The people we are walking alongside, they are worthy of cherishing.
And this universe we are all living in, it’s been woven through with a joy that cannot be overwhelmed.
We have been created for goodness, and I promise you, tending to that promise is worth it. Here’s to everyone mothering hope.
Katy (Johnson) Stafford dreams, writes, and occasionally podcasts in the messy middle of life. Newly married, Katy is spending her 30s embracing hope, longing, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called In Love, a memoir about loving your life beyond white picket fences. Occasionally, she also shares her thoughts here.