This was a day about family – children; grandchildren; a wedding party composed of sons and daughters; cousins meeting for the first time; the bride’s son walking her down the aisle; the bride’s nephew as her photographer; and two people who have been together so many years they were already each other’s family long before they made their way to the altar.
At the center of it all was Cindy. Or, as we call her, Aunt Cindy. Aunt Cindy, Ben’s father’s little sister, has been a photographer most of her life, and it was she who first inspired Ben to pick up a camera. By the time Ben and I got together, both of his parents had passed away, so I never got to meet them. Cindy is the closest thing to one of Ben’s “parents” that we have. I loved her immediately – her warmth, her smile, her happiness, her quirkiness, her thoughtfulness, her all-consuming love of her family. She checks up on us. She sends gifts and notes and old family photos. She makes sure she is present in our lives. It means more to us than we could ever really explain to her.
So when Aunt Cindy told us she and Steve were finally getting married, Ben called her and told her we were coming, and that he wanted to photograph it. “What did she say?!” I asked him. “She just kept screaming,” he told me.
Returning to Murray, Kentucky, meant visiting all of Ben’s childhood haunts, the woods and the places he built forts, his favorite taco shop, his beloved grandmother’s house. We took Roxy with us, and it was so wonderful to see her walk hand-in-hand with Ben on roads he ran down as a child. Roxy and I also got to meet family members we’d never met, and friends of Ben’s parents. His uncle Ted regaled us with stories of Ben’s dad as a teenager, and the beautiful, kind-hearted girl who became his wife (Ben’s mother). My heart was so full it was bursting at the seams.
The wedding itself was a sweet celebration of two pure-hearted people who deserve this beautiful second chapter of their lives. I know it meant the world to Ben to be able to give Aunt Cindy the first photos of that second chapter, after everything she has done for him, and everything she has been to him. As my own mother reminds me all the time… Family is everything.