I practiced the bridesmaid speech I drafted for my dear best friend's wedding one time and one time only. And I use the word practice very loosely, as it was 4 in the morning, and my tired eyes were in no condition to do anything beyond skimming. I should also point out that I absolutely detest practicing before I do any form of public speaking, professionally or personally. I'll stand up in front of a hundred people and talk my little head off before I willingly stand up in front of an empty room to practice. Although, while we're on the subject, I could easily talk to a wall if presented with the occasion, and probably enjoy it (read: cheaply entertained). But that's different. Talking to a wall is totally different than practicing to a wall.
As I skimmed over my words, I actually wondered if I would cry when it came time to share my speech with Saadia and Mohsin. Now, mind you, hindsight is 20/20, and I could have won millions had I placed a bet that I would cry. It's what I do. As much as I fight it, I'm a natural born cry baby. And in my 29th year of life, I've fully accepted and embrace what I refer to as my beautiful ability to express my emotions in the form of an essential natural element (read: I've accepted the fact that water will flow out of my eyeballs at anything provoking any type of emotion without a moment's notice). The more I fight it, the more I cry. Le sigh. However, in my delusional state of mind at 4 in the morning, I practically laughed at myself when I pondered if I was going to cry, even going as far as rolling my eyes in typical Courtney fashion. Of course I wasn't going to cry. What was there to cry about?
Back to that hindsight. After introducing myself to Saadia and Mohsin's family and friends, I dove straight into my speech. I should have worn my swimmies. Within thirty seconds, the tears were streaming down my face so quickly that I was at risk of drowning right there in the middle of the ballroom if I didn't pause and resurface for a breath of air. Insert super quick pep talk that went down like this: Get your shit together Courtney! You have 180 people staring at you, already wondering who in God's name is this white chick rocking a sari and now you're blubbering away. This isn't a funeral for the love of God, this is the happiest day of your best friend's life! Fortunately, this enthusiastic self talk scared the hell out of my tears and they temporarily subsided. For the rest of my speech, I was able to keep most of the tears at bay, with only one or two escaping the thick mascara adorning my eyelashes.
So, why, my dear reader (readers?) am I sharing this moment with you? My answer is simple. I want to look back in ten, twenty, thirty years and remember the way I felt during the five minutes I stood in front of my absolutely stunning best friend and her equally gorgeous husband (side note: they will make the most beautiful babies ever known to mankind to the point that it's really not fair...I'm serious), with tears running down my face. I want to remember the gratitude I felt for being part of a wedding so humble, so true, so perfect. I want to remember looking into the eyes of two souls becoming one and praying that one day I will find a love as deep, as rich, as genuine as theirs.
And, so, without further ado, I'd like to share with you what I shared with Saadia and Mohsin on their Wedding Day...
It was quickly approaching the early hours of dawn, and I was still staring at an untitled document on my Macbook, the cursor impatiently blinking at me, completely underwhelmed by my lack of words. I had been sitting there for hours, praying to the powers that be that I draft a speech that captures the very essence of my relationship with my beautiful best friend, Saadia, who I met 8 years ago, almost to the day. I had pondered what to write for days, ever since Saadia said, "you know, Court, I want you to speak at my wedding," to which my immediate response was a giddy "Oh my gosh, really?!" while secretly thinking, "Oh my gosh, I had no idea there were speeches at Pakistani weddings!" And yet another obvious lesson learned in our multicultural friendship.
Eight years ago when I walked up the two flights of stairs to our Townhouse on TCNJ's campus, I never would have thought that I'd be standing here today, taking part in one of the most important days in Saadia's life. Saadia and I were randomly assigned to the same townhouse, when I was a senior at TCNJ and she a junior. It was practically impossible to not become friends with Saadia, even if one of our initial interactions was when she chided me for waxing my eyebrows (clearly my white girl ways were simply not cutting it) and insisted that I try out threading (I'm sorry...what??). Mind you, it took my anxious mind almost an entire year before I let her place her hands within a ten inch radius of my upper eyelids. And, to this day, as Saadia can certainly attest, everytime I lay down to have my eyebrows threaded, I not only break out into a cold sweat, I turn into a bossypant wearing demanding diva that only Saadia would have the heart to deal with. But, alas, enough about my eyebrows.
Fast forward 8 years later, and a quote from one of our favorite books comes to mind...“a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”
As I stand up here today, my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for the person I truly believe is my soulmate in this crazy, but beautiful world we live in. Over the past 8 years, Saadia has become so much more than a best friend to me. Her presence is akin to the very relationship I share with my own sister, which has solidified my belief that everything happens for a reason. You see, I believe that Saadia and I were placed in each others lives not by chance, but by the grace of God, so that we can learn from each other, laugh and cry with each other, share our innermost secrets and deepest thoughts, even the unspoken ones, lean on each other during times of hardship and sadness, and grow together. Saadia has been there for me in my darkest hours, lifting my spirit up, and reminding me that everything will be okay. With Saadia, almost more than anyone else, I can fully be myself, which means she gets the best...and...worst of me, both of which she fully accepts with open arms.
Saadia’s family has also welcomed me into their home with open arms, to the point where I feel like maybe I have a little bit of Pakistani running through my own blood. I mean, my Punjabi vocabulary grows by the day. I know that dudh is milk, ande is eggs, doi is a large wooden spoon of Ami’s that I covet, and aja can make Ambreen come to me. Need I go on?
Saadia, just as our friendship was meant to be, I fully believe that your marriage to Mohsin is meant to be. Love and cherish your husband with your entire being, with the knowledge that your relationship will be more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Open your heart to Mohsin the way you have opened your heart to me. Live in the moment with each other. Uplift, support and encourage Mohsin the way you have done for me on so many occasions. Be humble. Be gracious. Be honest. Be you.
Mohsin, I will have you know that I am very possessive of my friendship with Saadia. Two nights ago before my last sleepover with Saadia, my own mother warned my sister to not impede on our time together, stating that “Courtney will want to spend time with just Saadia before her big day, so make sure you don't hang out with them for too long.” But, from this day forward, I am willing to share my dear friend with you, under one condition. Love Saadia with your entire heart. Even on the worst of the worst days, know that there is no one else in the entire world you’d rather have by your side. Trust me. And when you get in that first argument with each other, know that Saadia is humble, but stubborn and however stubborn you may be, know that it is no match for her, but more importantly, no argument is worth sacrificing one second of the love you two will grow to have. Trust me on this one, as well.
Saadia and Mohsin, may you remember today as the first day of the rest of your life together as one. Never stop seeking joy within each other and the love you two will share. Be patient, be forgiving, be compassionate. Have faith in each other, in love, and in life. Let your passion and love for each other light up the lives of your family, friends, and loved ones. I promise that the life you two will discover together will exceed all of your expectations.