On October 20th, 2007, Joy & Rose officially gained a new auntie by marriage.
They also both got to be flower girls!
Now, there's always a bit of risk entailed in the flower girl thing, and the younger, the riskier. You never quite know how they're going to perform at the actual ceremony! Having a three-year-old in the mix along with her five-year-old sister makes things more than a little unpredictable.
When the three-year-old also has autism and epilepsy, all bets are off.
The happy couple didn't waver as the planning process went along. They were quite definite: they wanted both girls in their wedding, even though they of course knew about the autism and the epilepsy. No, they didn't mind if I walked down the aisle next to Joy to keep things on track. And whatever happened, they assured us, it would be cute and make a good story.
Perhaps you can tell already that AuntLO was the ultimate UN-Bridezilla. We had such fun together figuring out dresses for both girls to coordinate with her ivory & burgundy wedding color-scheme, while simultaneously trying not to break the bank.
It's a rare late-October day in Chicago that comes in with a clear blue sky and over 70 degrees, but that's what they got for their wedding day on October 20 last year:
We had a couple hours drive to get to the church, and Joy did have a pretty big seizure at one point along the way, but we were hopeful that she'd be feeling fairly well recovered by the time we got there and got her all dressed up. (The Oct. 2007 trip to Chicago was one point in our data gathering that, up until this October, travel seemed to trigger seizures.)
Then she had another sizable seizure just as we were walking up to the church. Arghhh! Despite her obvious unhappiness, we went ahead and got both girls dressed up in the church bathroom, and got their lovely little baskets of rose petals, and hoped for the best...
And then while the processional music was playing and we were waiting our turn to walk in, she had another one.
The poor kid. I tried to walk in with her anyway, thinking that maybe she'd be so stunned that she'd just start moving forward and keep going.
Rose flower-girled like a pro, walking slowly and regally and strewing rose-petals "just so" (she'd been reading the Kevin Henkes book Lilly's Big Day for good practice!)
Joy took three steps with me, a little in front of me. Then she flung her petal basket in one direction and went running in the other, between a couple of empty pews. All she wanted to do was escape.
I pursued my sweet baby, picked her up, cuddled her the rest of the way up to the front of the church, circled around and pretty much immediately carried her back down the other aisle out the back of the church -- to await the incipient misery and fuss that always follows soon after a big seizure.
The beautiful old Catholic church building in that old Chicago neighborhood did not, of course, have a cry room. That wasn't on anyone's radar back when the church was built (heck, the term "radar" wasn't even coined until the 1940s!)
Fortunately there was a lovely little fenced grassy yard and garden at the back of the church, and it was so warm we didn't even need a wrap. I followed Joy around, trying to keep her safe through the worst of her reaction until she was a little calmer, and then we snuck back in to grab my purse and brought Rose out as well -- turned out that the full-fledged wedding mass was getting too long for her. So I snapped some photos. Here's Joy:
There was a statue of St. Francis in the middle of the little lawn, about the same height as Joy and shorter than Rose!
I won't post any of the official photographer's shots, from after the ceremony. Not only are they all from the front, Joy doesn't do well with posed photos and wasn't in a particularly cooperative mood.
AuntLO and UncleDO, though, were over the moon. We were so delighted to share in their joy, and touched beyond belief at their insistence on including Joy in their celebration.
Afterwards we discovered in conversations with other guests that, if we didn't tell them about Joy's seizure, they just assumed that she was having a three-year-old moment there in the aisle at the ceremony. Just like any kid might do.
It was cute, and made a good story.
As part of "and they're living happily ever after," I'd like to mention that AuntLO and UncleDO came to visit us last month. We had a wonderful time, including a family walk by the lake and a restaurant dinner. Here's Rose feeding the ducks during our walk:
We're grateful beyond words for our amazing supportive family. Happy first anniversary, AuntLO and UncleDO. We love you guys!