Words from the Wedding
Justin, Ketesah, family, friends;
We are gathered here to celebrate the union of Ketesah Surgies and Justin Trudeau. This day is special not because it is recognizing something new, but because it is consecrating something evident to anyone who knows Tess and Justin: that they have found in one another their soulmate. The bride and the groom have asked me to begin the ceremony with just a few words from the heart. Although I believe there are poet laureates who would not be worthy of this honor, I will do my best to convey in words the rare beauty of what these soon-to-be newlyweds share.
My first encounter with Justin took place half a lifetime ago. A mutual friend of ours was filming a black and white video featuring medieval combat. It was very much like Lord of the Rings, minus the $300 million budget. I was brought on to play ‘Extra #6′; my character’s raison d’etre was to appear in a battle for three seconds. The director had learned in school that when filming in black and white, chocolate syrup could be used as a special effect in lieu of cuts and scrapes. Justin was playing a principle character and was thus at the heart of most of the action scenes. So when I arrived on set, he was already in costume and had filmed several scenes. You can appreciate how surreal it was to be introduced to someone for the first time while he’s holding a sword, wearing a suit of chain mail and literally coughing chocolate syrup.
Over time, Justin and I started hanging out more and more often. In retrospect, our friendship seemed inevitable, given that we had the same social circle, and the same interests and hobbies. But if the bonds of friendship are fostered through times of levity, it’s through times of difficulty that you appreciate how tempered they are.
Once, during our college years, a friend of ours was hosting a party that was so bacchanalian it would have made Caligula blush. Justin and I, as we did not drink, soon found ourselves to be the only people at this party with the capacity for abstract thought. Things quickly got out of hand, and the two of us did our best to hold the line of sobriety against the forces of inebriation and chaos. It was a losing battle, but we fought nobly. The details need not be dwelled upon, but suffice to say we probably saved at least one life that night, as well as preventing the party’s host from getting arrested.
Although I hadn’t given the idea much thought before that night, I remember thinking how much I respected Justin for who he was as a person. I had previously thought of him in less serious terms, such as “that guy I can’t beat at a video game”. But it dawned on me that when the chips are down for others, he stands up for what’s right, even if they won’t appreciate it at the moment. As he showed then, and as he has shown in countless situations since, he is someone a friend can always turn to in a time of need.
And that really is at the heart of it all. Justin is gifted with many positive attributes. But it’s not his skills that are most impressive; nor is it his abilities. It’s who he is. He’s a person who embodies myriad admirable traits. The ancient Greeks would call him a eudaimon. The feudal Japanese would call him a kensei. I’m honored to call him my friend.
A little over a decade ago, I was wallowing in some self-pity over having lost a shot at dating “the perfect girl”. Justin rightly noted, “no one’s perfect.” It may be a clichéd axiom, but it is one for a reason, and I found solace in his words of consolation. Although I do believe that no human being is completely perfect, there are some people who are absolutely right for each other. And it was only a matter of time before Justin met his perfect match.
That day would come four years ago, in fact, on May 10th. Justin went dancing at Haven, a nightclub not far from here. It was your standard industrial goth night – if that phrase isn’t an oxymoron – with the usual cast of characters: old school goths dressed in black Victorian clothing; rivetheads stomping around in oversized combat boots; and emo kids wearing the latest spiked collars available from Hot Topic. And Justin went there simply expecting to dance and listen to good music, completely unaware he was about to meet the love of his life.
And yet there she was. In a sea of pleather the color of pitch, stood a fair-haired woman clad entirely in white. For her, it wasn’t a night to dance, but a night to just “be”… to find herself while others were blending in with the dark theme of the club. I’ve later learned that Tess did not have the intention of meeting anyone that night. Funny that saying about “best laid plans”… or maybe it was her pulling herself outside of the crowd that made her stand out and catch Justin’s eye. Either way, and thankfully for both of them, Justin had other plans. While Tess had indeed singled Justin out and was, in spite of herself, admiring him from afar, it was his inability to resist the charms of that nightclub angel that brings us here today.
The first time I met Tess, I unfortunately did not get a chance to learn much about her. I got the sense that she was very kind, and that she blessed the world with a very lovely heart. But this encounter was at a party that many people here attended, and it featured a variety of video games and people to play against. I would like to tell you that I ignored all those distractions; that Tess and I sat down and discussed philosophy and life; that I marveled over her ability to create artistic wonders ex nihilo from a blank canvas while equipped with only a graphite pencil. Instead, I spent the majority of that party getting PWNed at Halo 2 and dueling my friends with PVC pipes covered in duct tape.
Thankfully, I’ve learned much more about Tess over subsequent gatherings, brief chats and even via blog comments. There were, of course, the obvious traits that stood out about her. She’s a sociable, funny, intelligent, and charismatic individual with long blonde hair and an affinity for occasionally wearing period costume. A perfect match for Justin, really. But anyone who knows Tess knows that her greatest quality is her omnipresent caring nature.
It may seem like a trivial memory, but one of my favorite recollections of Tess comes from a party she and Justin held one summer day. A number of us were gathered in their living room, and there wasn’t room for me to sit in a chair or couch. Instead, I just sat on the floor and continued the conversation I was engrossed in. Without a word, Tess got up, found a pillow, and gave it to me. No one else had thought to offer me anything. I didn’t realize I was uncomfortable until she gave me the pillow. It’s an almost insignificant moment, and yet it’s emblematic of who Tess is. She’s ever compassionate, and looking out for the well-being of others even when they’re oblivious to it themselves.
Wherever I’ve talked with Tess – be it at a party, a Ren Faire, or over e-mail – she has always been a woman with a truly luminous heart. She can talk to a person mired in the deepest depression or despair, and still find a way to bring a smile to their face. Much like the first time Justin saw her, Tess is very much that beacon of light in the darkness. She was once content to dance alone, but now she’s found someone she can dance with forevermore.
[Address Justin & Tess directly:] In the past, some people have advised newlyweds: “may your marriage sustain your love.” While there may be something to that philosophy, I encourage you to practice the converse as well: may it be your love that sustains your marriage. I trust that it will, as I trust that you will both enjoy all the happiness in the world in your new life together.
Justin, I already regard you as a ridiculously lucky individual for what I’ve seen you accomplish in the past. But there is no feat I have ever seen you achieve that was as fortunate as winning Tess’ love. Similarly, Tess, I would deem you remarkably lucky for capturing the heart of someone I’ve held in the highest respect for half my life. But considering who both of you are, this is not mere luck. It is something that, however difficult some times may have been in the past, you now have no doubt is meant to be forevermore.
This union is one of complimentary contrasts. Like fireworks reflecting over a crystalline lake, you are at once dynamically unique and yet even more perfect together. The two of you have found in each other what many people spend a lifetime searching for. It is as magical as it is rare and beautiful. Years from now, a silly moment may come when you temporarily take for granted just how special your spouse is. That is likely to happen in any relationship. But should that moment arrive, think back to this day; think back to this very moment – as you stood by your beautiful bride or handsome husband – and think of the love that you have found in one another. Do so, and you’ll remember that the love you share is stronger than anything else you will ever encounter.