There was something about a piano playing in a church that could really make a grown man cry.
Mass could go on for what felt like hours, the boredom from a mumbling preacher could bring someone begging for it to be over so they can go get some lunch.
It could be at a funeral where a loved one is lost, promises not to cry are made but ultimately fail as emotions spill out of every person touched by the lost one.
Then there are weddings, oh how they can bring people to tears. A celebration of commitment and joy, nothing is more heartwarming than a marriage between two faithful lovers.
The invitation was quite the surprise, the name on the card was one he hadn’t heard in years, Ava. His university roommate was getting married to someone he doesn’t know, inviting his close family along with him. Did she even know he had a wife and children?
“Oh, how sweet, she remembered you after all that time,” His wife commented, looking over the sparkly invitation. “The city is only a couple of hours over, let’s book the weekend off.”
“I wonder if she will still recognize me,” He mumbled, looking into a mirror. He was no longer the fat guy who ate gas station food for every meal, he changed his clothes when they got grease and sweat stains on the fabric.
This was not a time to think of dirty clothes when he had a suit to rent. His wife decided she needed a new attire for the wedding, despite the ever-growing closet full of dresses for every occasion already, but he didn’t say anything. He never does because deep down, he knows it makes her happy.
His daughter complained of tight shoes as his son showed off his brand new tie with a unique design he picked out himself. All the guests that he didn’t recognize laughed along with his son, even without knowing who he was.
The church was filled with white lilies, a flower Ava loved to draw while she was supposed to be studying. People were rushing into their seats, mumbling things about the couple to be married. There were bridesmaids lined at the front, along with the woman Ava was to be married too. She looked nothing like the girlfriend he met back in university.
He could remember it like it was yesterday. Ava had a boyfriend who wasn’t the best. He was a nice person, but just not right for Ava, that’s all. Ava would feel nervous before every date, calling him because she wanted to throw up. After a breakup with no hard feelings after, Ava fell out of the dating game.
He had an idea. He sent Ava up on what he assumed would be a platonic date with a girl he met in his English class with the same interest in her, hoping to lift her spirits with a new friend. His plan did work, just a lot more than he expected. He woke up to a trail of clothes leading to a door with a sock over the handle.
The piano started to play the same song that plays at every wedding. Back doors open, and out comes two young children throwing flower petals, followed by Ava. She looked nothing like Ava, but he knew that it was Ava. Her hair was her natural colour, something she claimed to have hated before. She had gained some much needed weight, her face and skin having a healthier look to it.
She had changed so much, but her smile had stayed the same. She held the power of the sun in those lips, her smile was lighting up the room. All eyes were on her as she walked along the aisle, a long white dress trailing behind her as her father lead her down to her future wife.
He said that he wasn’t going to cry, he and Ava had drifted apart over the fifteen years since she moved out from their shared apartment. They tried to stay in touch—they really did—but within a year they had both moved on to their own futures. He didn’t think he would even want to cry, but his eyes had different plans.
They came silently as he watched Ava and her partner exchange vows. His wife took hold of his hand, rubbing small circles into his palm, leaning onto his shoulder. Yes, he was crying, but they were tears of joy.
Fifteen years ago, Ava would come home with bottles of liquor and drink away as if she were immortal. She would hate herself, complain about how she was ruining her own life. He remembered the pain of taking her to the hospital after she couldn’t stop puking after binge drinking, the fear the struck his heart never really left as nothing as terrified him more.
This is a different Ava, though. She has hope in her eyes, life in her steps. She sealed the deal with her wife, pressing in a kiss that everyone cheered for while clapping.
The jolly mood followed into the church courtyard, where tables were lined with more white lilies and beautiful decor on every plate. The kids were happy to finally be free from the quiet atmosphere of the ceremony, still too young to understand the importance of what just happened.
There was chatter about as he found a table for his family, fancy meals being delivered to them. The kids were having a blast as his wife complimented all the decor and the dresses the newlyweds were wearing, wishing she had the same designer for their wedding.
After the cake had been served, a familiar figure came up to their table and introduced herself. Her voice was still the same, a lively sound to all ears. His wife chatted with her, expressing her love for the gown she wore. Now that they were closer, he could see a necklace with a white lily charm hanging from it, the same necklace he got her during a university event.
“There is so much to catch up on, mind taking a walk with me?” She held her hand out, he took it with a grin on his lips. They walked into the church, admiring the stained glass as they did.
“Your wife looks lovely,” He mentioned.
“So does yours!” They both giggled before commenting on the changes they both endured during their time apart. Different jobs than they had imagined before, domestic lives they had built for themselves. They lead such different lives, but deep down inside, they were still the same people.
“I wanted to say thank you,” Ava sighed, turning to face him.
“Everything.” Her expression softens as she grasped her arms together, a thing she used to do when she was nervous. “I wouldn’t be living the life I had if you didn’t help me find my way. If it wasn’t for you trying to get me more friends, I wouldn’t know what I was looking for in a partner. If you didn’t make me get the help I needed, I would have lost my liver by now.”
“It does go both ways. If you didn’t critique my eating habits, I would probably have had a heart attack and be on pills for the rest of my life. If you didn’t tell me to get my act together, I might not have graduated and gotten the job I love so much.”
They stood in front of the altar in the church. A friendship that had dwindled from loss of contact now blooming in the light of appreciating each other.
“Maybe we are each other’s guardian angels.” Ava laughed, her dimples lighting up. He laughed along with her, thankful he received the invitation in the mail.
“I’m so glad that I met you.”