Monday, 22 June 2015

Love Knows No Bounds- writing a reading for my best friend's wedding

A few weeks ago, my best friend Jen sent me a text.  Nothing unusual about that - we're usually in contact at least four or five days a week.  But when I opened it and read 'Can I call you later?  I need to ask you something,' my heart stopped. 

What on earth could it be?  In fact, for the hours before she called me back I was thinking all sorts, and I'd convinced myself it was going to be something awful.  All I could think of was her wedding in six weeks time, and that she'd changed her mind about me being a bridesmaid.  When she'd asked me to take on the role back in September, my eyes had filled with tears in the middle of Kings Cross station's branch of Pret. I'd been so excited at the prospect of playing a part in her big day, and after twenty-seven years of friendship I couldn't wait to stand by her side as she married her lovely Aussie fiancé Chris. 

Jen (L) and me (R) in either 1992 or 1993

I tried to prepare myself to say 'of course I understand, it's your special day and you call the shots-I just want you to be happy'.  That's the truth- her happiness was the most important thing, but deep down I knew I'd be devastated if I didn't get to be there with her at the hairdresser, or to help her into her dress and accessories. 

So when the phone rang I took myself upstairs, away from my family.  I didn't want them to see me cry disappointed tears.

Me- 'Hello?'

Jen- 'Hiya!  It's only me.'

She sounded pretty upbeat.

'I didn't mean to panic you, I just wanted to ask you something.'

I held my breath, my heart pounding and running over my prepared response in my mind.  It'll be fine, so long as I can be there.  Even if I'm not bridesmaid, it'll be enough to see her walk down the aisle on the arm of her lovely Dad Steve, and to hear Chris pledging to look after her for the rest of their lives.  Unless....oh heck.  What if she doesn't want me there at all?

'Chris and I have been thinking about the wedding...'

Here it comes. 

I closed my eyes and crushed my top lip between my teeth the way I do whenever I'm anticipating bad news.

'...and because you're such a talented writer, we wondered if you'd write something for us and read it at the church?  A poem, or a bit about us as a couple, or anything really.'

WHAT?

She wasn't de-robing me of the dove grey dresses us bridemaids were wearing?!  Her and Chris wanted me to be a bigger part of their day!

My cheeks were wet with tears of happiness and relief.

And as soon as we got off the phone I started writing.

I knew whatever I came up with had to be unique, completely tailored to Jen and Chris and their relationship, and most importantly, it had to be perfect.  Within ten minutes I'd written the first draft of Love Knows No Bounds and sent it to Jen for approval. 

She replied straight away saying she loved it, but I knew I wouldn't be happy unless it said everything I wanted to say.  I wanted to convey how love can conquer all, and that although Jen and Chris are literally from opposite sides of the globe (and Jen is now away a lot with her work as cabin crew for British Airways) it really doesn't matter because their love is strong enough to survive anything, let alone distance.

I tinkered with the poem for another four weeks, right up until the deadline when the Order of Service needed to be printed, although to be honest it didn't change that much.  When I sent the final version to them for approval I was so nervous- it was far worse than waiting to hear from an editor or an agent, and any writer knows how painful that is!  When Chris emailed me back saying it was just what they were hoping for and that he 'really love[d] it' I was finally able to relax. 

Phew!

Saturday 20th June 2015 arrived and finally it was the day - my best friend's wedding!  It couldn't have been a more perfect day- the church was filled with an overwhelming aura of love and joy and I cried as Jen gently trembled with anticipation as she stood at the alter with her Dad, as Chris's face glowed with adoration as the familiar sacred vows were made, through the rousing first chorus of the 'Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer',  the traditional Welsh hymn.

But when it was my turn to stand at the lectern, I didn't feel overcome.  I felt blessed.  Blessed to be part of this day, but mostly blessed to know that my best friend had found someone who'd love and treasure her. 

Me (L) and Jen (R) on her wedding day.  I'd controlled my tears by this point!

I made a point of looking at Jen and Chris as I read, because although Love Knows No Bounds was written for them, so much of it could also apply to Chris's family who were over from Australia, his childhood friends that couldn't make it to the wedding because of the distance and travel involved, and their loved ones in the UK who don't get to see them as much as they'd like.  The line 'where you are it's tomorrow and where I am it's still today' is a reference to the messages I sent Jen during her year living in Australia where I'd say 'How's it going in the future?!'

I wanted to take in seeing the new Mr and Mrs King in these first magical moments as husband and wife, and as everyone else could see just their backs, I could see the beaming smiles on their faces, the true happiness of knowing forever stretched out ahead of them, full of 'love and adventure' as it said on their wedding stationery.

I know that wherever they end up in the world, whether that's staying in the UK or going to Chris's homeland to live, this wonderful couple will always, always be a huge part of my life.

Because I love them, and love really does know no bounds. 

This is the poem.  If anyone would like to use it for any purpose, including using on your own website or blog, please contact me before doing so. 

Love Knows No Bounds

We are from opposite sides of the world
yet Love decided you belong with me.

Some might say it was Fate, or Fortune, or Luck.
But we know that it was Love.

Love knows that we are stronger together than we ever would be apart,
that any challenge can be overcome by this wonderful combination
of You, and Me, and Love.

Because with Love, miles become millimetres,
and the widest, wildest ocean is no more than a sleepy, slender stream.
With Love, time zones melt into nothingness;
it doesn’t matter to Love that where you are it’s tomorrow
and where I am it’s still today.

With Love, the whole world is a tiny being cwtched* safely under one blanket of sky.

And when we look at Love this way, we realise
no obstacle could ever be too large for Love to scale;
that when Love decides two people shall be together,
together they shall be.

Love knows no bounds.
Love knows no bounds.
 
Congratulations Mr and Mrs King! 
I love you both xxx
 * cwtch= welsh for hug or cuddle

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