“To accept one’s past–one’s history–is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it.” -James Baldwin


It’s difficult to retell a story when one of the narrators is unreliable and the other is dead. It’s even more difficult when it’s your own story. Uncovering the narrative of my existence has been like searching for a long dead corpse in murky depths while a thin sheen of oil over the water catches fire and rages above. What am I looking for? Where have I been? It doesn’t matter; we can’t go back.


Take a deep breath.

Let’s dive.


“One of the gravestones in the cemetery near the earliest church has an anchor on it and an hourglass, and the words In Hope. In Hope. Why did they put that above a dead person? Was it the corpse hoping, or those still alive?” -Margaret Atwood


How can you miss something that was never there? This was my attitude toward my father. I asked my mother about him three times.


“Your dad left when you were a baby. He went back to Saudi Arabia.” My mother glanced up at me from her romance novel as she reclined in her bed. “No, I don’t have a picture of him.”


Or alternatively, “Here’s a picture of him.” A grainy picture of a tan, trim man with long, curly hair and a mustache smiling ebulliently into the camera. “He was a member of the royal family. They’re all related over there.”


Years later, a flippant reply to my query in a grocery store, “I don’t know where your dad is. It doesn’t matter anyway; he’s probably dead by now. He was always sick.” Silence overcome by the beep of the checkout scanner.


Four years ago, my former stepdad volunteered information unexpectedly. Kyle and I sat close together at the splintered and warped picnic table; the napkins threatening to flee in the brisk spring wind. The lighter clicked repeatedly as Mike struggled with his cigarette.


“Your dad’s friend came by once.”


An astounding surge of emotion. A roaring in my ears.


“A friend came by? A friend of my dad’s?”


He exhaled a cloud of grey over his shoulder toward the park’s gravel lot. “Yeah. It was after your mom sent those letters.”

Letters? Letters? Yes, I remember a packet of letters. I was nine. She used to take me down to the International Food Store by campus, and I would walk alone through the aisles examining the spices and wafer cookies while she talked to the proprietor, a contemporaneous Arab friend. A treasure chest of information if she could find the right pick to unlock it.

“I’m writing to your dad about you,” she explained to me as we left for the last time. A strange sensation of excitement and hope filled my stomach. My dad? He was a real person out there somewhere in the world? A narrow strip of light cracked open in a closed room. Love me. Love me. Love me.


I watched her spend a week writing and rewriting. A long line at the post office. The large white envelope gleamed in her hand.


“I remember the letters. What happened?”


“Well, your dad’s friend from that store came by. He said Mohammed wanted you to come to Saudi Arabia and see him. Said he would send money for the plane ticket.” Another opaque exhale, a cough. “I wasn’t stupid. I knew how old you were. I told him, ‘No, if Mohammed wants to see Jordan, he can come here and see her anytime. She’ll be waiting.’ He never came back, and we didn’t hear anything else about your dad.”


This story is the most confusing of all. You’ll understand why soon.


But it spurred something in me.


I started by googling his name. I found his Kalamazoo address, associated persons, his former phone number, his expected age. I found other addresses, more names. Who were these people? There was only one person who might know.  

A long, slender pin sunk deep into my heart. A vermilion blossom of pain and remembrance.


I reached out to my mother.


But could I navigate this sea of lies and murky half-truths?


Before I left for college, my mother bragged to me that she had slept with over sixty men in college and had all her expenses paid for. She told me, “the going rate for a blow job is $20 if you want to be a whore.” A truth or a lie meant to shock me into abstinence? The latter, I assumed. But it further complicates the narrative.


Do you know what it’s like to not know if any part of you is real?


I got genetic testing done. My results asserted I was at least ¼ Middle Eastern. A long-held breath finally released. I posted the scant information I had about my paternal family and implored the community for help. I knew my father’s name, his brother’s name, his father’s first name, the schools he studied at in the US and the approximate times he was there. The gut-wrenching interactions with my mother, my months of searching. That was it.  

“It was nothing, but it was Adam Parrish’s nothing. How he hated and loved it. How proud he was of it; how wretched it was.” -Maggie Stiefvater

But someone out in the ether responded.



And though I wouldn’t know it for almost two years, that was my first interaction with a cousin.


Let’s come up for air.


“Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity and ruin.” – Mary Shelley

“Can you see me? All of me? Probably not. No one ever really has.” -Jeffrey Eugenides


I have tried a dozen times to tell you this story. I have tried a thousand times to forget entirely. I have accomplished neither. Now I feel like I have to tell you. I’m almost ready now. So I will.


Did you notice? Did you notice that I never told you of my mother?


Did you notice the holes in my narrative when you asked me about myself? The empty space where fond family memories and childhood reminiscences should have been? Was there a whisper almost-dreamt in the edges of your consciousness, a suppressed feeling of wrongness?

A pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. -T.S. Eliot


Did you ever toss me something when I wasn’t expecting it? Was there an insistent, troubling half-thought as you watched me flinch deeply, instinctively–a look of apparently unwarranted deep-rooted terror flashing across my face before I could hide it?

“Some things you can be so close to that you never grasp their true nature.” -Jeff VanderMeer


There is a picture of my 23 year old mother holding me at a picnic. The early afternoon light pours in around us. I appear joyful and secure. Her smile is stunning as she smushes her face close to mine; her love and elation transform her. She grasps me carelessly in her enthusiasm to display me. She is radiant. I am 16 months old.


There will never be another picture like this of us.


Trigger warning.

“The importance of a child’s close relationship with a caregiver cannot be overestimated. Through these relationships, children learn to trust others; they develop a sense of the world as safe or unsafe and understand their own value. When those relationships are unstable, children learn that they cannot rely on others to help them.” -National Child Traumatic Stress Network


Sometimes I think I dreamt my early, happy memories. Memories in which my mother read aloud to me and I begged her to tickle me until I cried tears of delight. They are few enough; it’s possible I planted them there as a hopeful beacon of what my mother could have been.


The hazy, potentially false, happy memories of my mother end before my sixth birthday.


The rest of my memories are crystal clear.


We’ll start off slow and ease you in.


I remember perpetual hunger. I remember being excited for school because it meant I would eat two meals that day. If I could eat quickly enough, I might even be able to steal a second serving of cereal and feel full for a couple hours. At home, I was not allowed to eat unless told otherwise.


Other people remember pranks and adventures with their friends; I remember food. I remember my friend’s mother giving me a full bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal once. I remember a toasted pair of frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts for me on an afternoon visit. A handful of animal crackers from a friend’s daily after-school snack.

When primary caregivers abuse a child, the child learns that he or she is bad and the world is a terrible place.” -National Child Traumatic Stress Network


I remember learning I was bad. “Why are you so obsessed with SEX?!” My mother shouted nonsensically when I was 8. I had written a story for school in which a talking apple fell out of a tree, kissed me, and we got married. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I’m sorry, I won’t do it anymore,” I babbled through sobs, my arms half-raised protectively in front of me, dreading the inevitable, familiar words.


“Get me a spoon to beat you with.”


It was instinct to put my arms up when my mother started beating me, but she always coaxed me into lowering them. She would toy with me, alternating her tone between reconciliatory and authoritative. A half smile on her face at my incoherent terror as the spatula or slatted spoon hovered attentively in the air waiting for its opening on my thin frame. My mother made me put my arms down so she could beat me secretly, from bony scapula to trembling upper thigh. Arms were visible; bruises on arms raised questions.

“Having learned that the world is a dangerous place where even loved ones can’t be trusted to protect you, children are often vigilant and guarded in their interactions with others.” -National Child Traumatic Stress Network


As I got older and bigger, my mother relied more heavily on psychological punishments and verbal taunts which I will spare you. Despite everything, I still loved her and tried to please her. She was everything.


Once, in high school, I decided to try hiding my emotions and not acknowledge the poison spewing from her mouth. She responded by punching my glasses off my face and pushing me down half a flight of stairs.

“I poured everything I had into you, and you were still empty.” -Iviva Olenick


Eventually I learned that my mother was not normal. My childhood trauma was not normal. My resulting self-loathing was (outside of the circumstances) not normal. And I left.


But she still does her best to reach me–the tap tap tap of a gnarled tree limb scratching on the bedroom window at night–cunning messages sent third party through others. Sorrowful, wounded messages that tell the messenger subtly what a heartless, uncompassionate daughter I am for surgically removing her from my life.


“I just wish you would forgive your mother,” my grandmother sighs regularly. “I know you had some disagreements with her when you were a teenager, but I just pray my girls will be together again at last.” A long, slender pin sunk deep into my heart. A vermilion blossom of pain and remembrance.


“Get me a spoon to beat you with.”


I don’t know why she can’t love me. Maybe when she looks at me, all she can see is my father’s rejection of her. Maybe it’s not me at all. All I know is she makes me feel hollow.


This is why the rest of the story is so important.




“They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.” -Philip Larkin



“I feel like the word shatter.” -Margaret Atwood


This will not be a pleasant read. It will be honest, revealing, and plainspoken, but it will not be a pleasant read. I’m going to do something I never do; I’m going to be vulnerable.


I feel I owe this to everyone else negatively affected by the results of the election. I can’t help but wonder, maybe if I hadn’t done such a thorough job of suppressing any external indicators of how negatively I’ve been impacted by racism, classism, and sexism throughout my life, maybe you would have realized that these concerns are real. I guess just thought you would have the compassion and understanding to fight for my humanity and needs without me exposing the most painful parts of myself.


I should have told you.


“Emilio was certainly within his rights not to reveal the sordid details of his childhood even to his friends. Or perhaps especially to his friends, whose good opinion of him, he might feel, would not survive the revelations.” -Mary Doria Russell


If I had told you about being called “nothing special” because my skin was too dark and my hair too curly, if I had told you about getting purposefully snubbed at dinner parties because I wasn’t white, if I had told you about being lured out of my house as a child to become an unwitting victim in escalating racial tensions, if I had told you about being gleefully called a “sand nigger” as if it were clever, if I had told you about the self-loathing acidity eating away at me every time I smiled or laughed at a racist joke to pass as white, if I had told you about getting berated and verbally harassed repeatedly for not donating money to charities like the rest of my high school classmates, if I had told you about being bullied by men in positions of power because they knew I didn’t have the resources to fight back, if I had told you about the remarks and judgment from my peers over my clothes and appearance, if I had told you about being forced to choose between eating or buying textbooks, if I had told you about what it’s like to literally be homeless, if I had told you about being raped by a boyfriend but being so emotionally battered and in denial that I wouldn’t tell anyone for almost a decade, if I had told you about the man following me in the bright afternoon sunlight just months ago, sexually harassing me like it was his right and expecting me to be thankful, then maybe, maybe you would have realized that these things do happen. They happen to people you know, people like me, people who appear successful and well-adjusted, people who say nothing even to their spouses, people who look and act like everything is completely fine regardless of the indelible wounds.


“He has never told anyone this story. He doesn’t mind talking about his past–within reason–but he doesn’t mean to give away pieces of himself.” -Hilary Mantel


I should have told you, but how could I have?


And now we are here. Where it is a very scary time to be an Arab American woman born of a Muslim immigrant father, newly discovered by and united with my Muslim, immigrant family. A time where I am literally wondering if it’s safer for my family to go back to Saudi Arabia where social media and communication services are so restricted that virtually every social media, texting, or video chatting service is blocked, where they are a religious minority in an already internationally reviled religious group, and where my female relatives can’t even drive to go somewhere else.


Every time I see you post a flippant remark about how “I voted third party!” or “maybe it won’t be so bad” or “you’re being dramatic” or “life will go on” you are saying to me, “The wrong, terrible, godforsaken things that have happened to you in your life have not happened. And even if they had, they don’t matter. You don’t matter.” Would you have said this if you knew? I don’t know. Only you know. All I am sure of is that a small, delicate tendril of me dies every time you say these things, whether out of privilege, ignorance, maliciousness, or apathy.


“It’s something everybody wants–for someone to see the hurt done to them and set it down like it matters.” -Sue Monk Kidd


I am worried that if something happens to me or my family, you will say nothing. You will do nothing. Maybe you will wring your hands and ask, “how could this happen?!” in a Facebook post soon buried by reshared recipes and pictures of cats. And if you say nothing, if you do nothing, you are complicit.


I need you to stop with the posts and comments. I need you to care about me and others like me. I need you to actually do something for us. I need you to volunteer at your local Islamic center, refugee center, and women’s shelter. I need you to call people out when they exhibit racist, misogynistic behavior or say things that could hurt us. I need you to give your time, prayers, money, voice, hands. I need you not to become complacent after the initial shock is over. I need you to tell me the things that have happened to me matter, and you will do what you can to ensure they don’t keep happening. I need you to be human. Please.

Greetings comrades! Soon I will unleash a deluge of tales from my most recent adventures! Car accidents! Strangers in strange lands! Intrigue! But, today I am going to post a brief recollection of The Beach Trip. As you might remember, I have a policy never to refuse a ride from a stranger. One day  I decided to take that policy a step further.

A myriad of petite sunbursts reflected off her aviators as she asked me, “Wanna go to the beach?” I squinted at this brunette stranger standing outside of my domicile with her three companions. I glanced at their faces, wondering why I had been chosen as worthy of this invitation. None of them looked familiar. I was undeterred.

I was properly attired and seated in someone’s car less than ten minutes later, on my way to the beach for the first time since moving to Grand Rapids. The countryside passed by in an incandescent blur of fields and grasses washed out by the brilliant light of midday. I stared with open curiosity at a chicken meandering its way alongside the tar black highway without any sense of mortality. We spent the car ride in staccato bursts of chatter and amiable silence, accentuated by the never-ending buffeting of the wind racing through our open windows.

Eventually, the road was replaced by the cloudless horizon, and we disembarked. I gleaned snippets of their lives as we lounged on the beach. Our limbs tangled and spread across the sand unencumbered by propriety, a slumbering familial group. The sand was gloriously warm, golden brown–texture like sun.

A boom box was retrieved from the car and enlisted in our quest for the perfect atmosphere. She hooked her iPod into the system, and we reflected audibly on the divergent sounds of the seagulls gliding by overhead and the awkwardly forced rhymes of Soulja Boy. We spent hours basking in the heat until the sun threatened to retire.

The brunette invited me to join her and her companions for dinner at her home. I acquiesced immediately, and we collected our things, saying a regretful goodbye to the sands which had cradled us tenderly as we napped the afternoon away. The blood orange rays set behind us as we left the shores of Lake Michigan and departed for her apartment.

“I learned to make this when I lived in the dorms and didn’t have an oven.” She remarked to me as I observed her create the meal. Her hands moved with surety as she cleverly manipulated the toaster to prepare homemade garlic bread. The glowing red coils hummed with energy as the bread hardened.

After the meal, I said my goodbyes and exited into the cool night air. I quickly gained my bearings and set out for home, perambulating without hurry as I surveyed the stars, unconsciously searching for Orion. I never saw my beach companions again, but I cherished their unfettered gift of camaraderie long after.

Greetings, comrades! I have some downtime, so I figured I would tell you about our post-wedding (but not a honeymoon) trip to Boston. It was an adventure filled with intrigue, romance, and danger! By which I mean cannolis!

First of all, my friend Deborah  (name changed) lives in Boston, and when I spoke to her in June, she invited us to come out and stay with her for a few days. I checked ticket prices and bought a pair of round trips for less than $200 a piece via Spirit Airlines from O’Hare to Logan. Even with gas prices, we saved $150 versus flying from Grand Rapids.

However, Spirit Airlines is a piece of garbage that flies out of a garbage airport (O’Hare), and we were sorely tested before our journey even truly began. Our flight was delayed 3 hours, so we drank away our sorrows in the airport bar.

“This beer tastes like it has vodka in it.” I remarked to Kyle upon sipping Goose Island’s Matilda. A warm sensation traveled from my now-numbed tongue down to my stomach, giving me the somewhat unpleasant feeling that I had just consumed the brewery’s equivalent of pure gasoline. Nonetheless, the gasoline beer made reading the poorly ghost-written Michael Crichton novel, Micro, seem to be of as great literary merit as Ulysses or surely Great Expectations. I finished my glass.

After a relatively uneventful flight, we landed in Boston and were immediately transported to MIT by Deborah who was late for orchestra practice. Left to our own devices for two hours, Kyle and I wandered MIT, and I did my best to impress him by showing off my superb Boston accent as we toured the streets.

“Go pahk the cah.” I instructed him nonsensically as we wandered afoot past a building dedicated solely to the study of memory.

“You have the worst Boston accent ever.” He retorted. Miffed, I pouted and practiced saying “Bahstin” quietly while he asked a passerby if we were correctly en route to a nearby restaurant.


The next day we awoke early and began extensive sight-seeing (upon later calculations, we determined that we walked 8 miles this day). We visited the Boston Museum of Science and viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls. I was about to attempt convincing a fellow museum patron that I was fluent in Greek and Aramaic when I was retrieved by Kyle who discovered I had strayed away from our trio.

Deborah then guided us to the Prudential Center which features a 52 story building culminating in an expansive (and expensive) view of the city in the Top of the Hub restaurant. Smoothly lying to the hostess that we were headed to the bar, we avoided the $25 per person fee for picture-taking and snapped several quick panoramas before a waiter began heading in our direction to ask us to leave. We deftly darted between tables and maneuvered around the waiter with great precision, racing back to the elevator and safely evading the fee.


On Saturday, we slept in till an extravagant hour (10am) before embarking on another adventure, this time into Cambridge territory (5 miles this day), where Kyle informed me that I am lactose intolerant upon my adverse reaction to ingesting a large amount of ice cream. Shocked and annoyed that he was probably right, I proceeded to make him knead my stomach like a large cat in an effort to disperse the ice cream periodically throughout the day.

At the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Kyle and I stared in awe at the skeleton of a giant sloth. Deborah explained to us that the skeleton (roughly twice the size of an H3 Hummer) was the South American equivalent of an elephant thousands of years ago. Simultaneously perturbed and excited by the idea of elephant-sized sloths, I spent the remainder of the museum visit in silence.

We ended our evening in Little Italy, where we purchased cannolis and ate one of the most delightful pasta dishes I have ever had the good fortune of consuming. The next morning, we lingered around Deborah’s apartment before reluctantly heading to the airport and beginning the long trek home. All in all, we had an excellent trip.

I’ve received tons of questions about the music, our vows, who catered, etc. which I will answer here.

Here is the complete list of all the songs that were used at our wedding. I hand-picked each song. My bestie painstakingly compiled all of these songs for me, and my bridesmaid dumped them into iTunes. I used an app called WeddingDJ on my phone for the reception. It faded in and out for each song, even when skipping. It also allowed me to rearrange songs on the fly, and I was able to take requests.

Walking down the aisle

Walking down the aisle


Here is the complete outline of the ceremony. I threw this together for our fantastic friend who volunteered to get ordained for us when our original minister decided to back out abruptly.


Please turn off all cell phones and electronic devices. Please remain in your rows until the wedding party has exited.

Dear Friends: We are here to witness the beginning of a marriage, and to ask God to bless Kyle and Jordan in their wedded life together. By our presence here we all accept responsibility for helping them, and for encouraging them in their days ahead, as they grow together in love. We are called to rejoice with them in their happiness, to help them when they have trouble, and to remember them in our prayers. Let us pray:


Most gracious God pour out the abundance of your blessing upon this man and this
woman. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death. Amen.


Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly. Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid.  When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.


It is this potential you set about exploring in the commitment you are making today. Your marriage will foster the love you have already found; with that guide, no fences will block your way. And as you find joy together, you will bring that joy to everyone in your life.


And now, a reading selected by the couple: [this is from a book called The Alchemist] “When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. Something that exerted the same force whenever two pairs of eyes met, as had theirs here at the well. She smiled, and that was certainly an omen — the omen he had been awaiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life. The omen he had sought to find with his sheep and in his books, in the crystals and in the silence of the desert.

“It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”


O God, the Author and Giver of all good things, we bless you for the gifts of love and friendship and for the joys which gladden our lives. May your blessing rest upon and remain with Kyle and Jordan as they pledge their mutual love. Bless this day, and lead us always in your ways of love and peace. Amen.


Kyle, you have come here to proclaim your love and devotion for Jordan. Do you take her to be you wedded wife? (I DO)

And do you promise to love her, respect her, and care for her during times of joy and hardship? (I DO)

Jordan, you have come here to proclaim your love and devotion for Kyle. Do you take him to be you wedded husband? (I DO)

And do you promise to love him, respect him, and care for him during times of joy and hardship? (I DO)


Kyle and Jordan will now make the vows they have prepared for one another.

[I don’t have a copy of Kyle’s vows at this time]

My vows: I knew even before we started dating that I would marry you someday. You are a game-changer. You completely turned my world upside down, entering it with what I thought was surely the worst timing possible but ended up being the perfect time.

When I found you, I marveled at the idea that someone like you even existed. You are unfailingly compassionate and patient, unless it’s game night. You let me put my abnormally cold hands on your stomach when I sniffle that I am dying of frostbite. You pretend not to notice when I surreptitiously wipe my nose on your shoulder when you hug me. When I passed out at the optometrist because of nerves, you didn’t roll your eyes or tell me to grow up. You held my hand and reassured the receptionist that you would take care of me.

And you always have. You have helped me move from apartment to apartment, only complaining slightly when I told you that there were just a few more boxes to pack or that we just had a couple more trips to make.

You have always had an unwavering confidence in me, and you have pushed and inspired me to try harder or sometimes just try at all. I honestly believe that you make me a better person.

You are the only person who won’t let me get away with something just because I am cute or you love me. You won’t let me tell people when I think their baby is dumb or that they are too fat to wear a two-piece. You make me apologize to people on the internet for being rude, and you call me out if I say something nasty to our friends.

At the same time, you accept me for who I am. You understand that I am going to dance randomly in the frozen food aisle at Meijer if I feel like it, and you might even dance with me. You will wrestle with me and chase me through the house trying to kick me in the butt when I start a surprise pillow fight while you are watching ESPN. If I want to dance around the living room with Fred while singing the theme song to The Love Boat, you will chime in and sing along.

I know how much I love you, and I know that you feel the same way, so I will continue to try my hardest to be the person you deserve me to be. I love you, and I have always loved you. Sometimes there are moments in our lives where I am just so overcome by how deeply I care about you that I stop everything and acknowledge our love. I feel like this whole day is one such moment. I am so happy that we found each other, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together.

Also, Fred texted me that you are a butt.


Kyle and Jordan, the rings you exchange here represent the unending love and commitment you feel in your hearts.

Kyle, please repeat after me: [this is from the personal correspondence of two lovers Abelard and Héloïse] “To half my heart and part of my soul: what I am I entrust to you. I am yours as long as I live.”

Jordan, please repeat after me: “To half my heart and part of my soul: what I am I entrust to you. I am yours as long as I live.”


And now, let us pray: [this is a modified version of the Prayer of Saint Francis]

Lord, make Kyle and Jordan instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let them sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that they may not so much

seek to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.


May the longtime sun shine on you, all love surround you, and the unfailing light within you guide you on your way. And remember: be in love with your life, every minute of it. I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.






Catering was provided by Adeline Leigh Catering.

The cakes were provided by Food Dance Cafe in Kalamazoo. The cakes were: The Cat’s Meow, Carrot Cake, and Lemon Raspberry.

Our WONDERFUL photographer was Ashley Avila.

Makeup and hair for myself and the bridesmaids was done by Ashley Amaya.

The floral arrangements (with the exception of the white flowers at the ceremony) were done by Aimee Madden.



My dress was purchased for me by my wonderful mother-in-law from Becker’s Bridal in Fowlerville. The designer was Allure Bridals, style 9000. However, the dress was specially modified for me to become a close-fitting sheath dress instead of a mermaid dress.

My bracelet and earrings were purchased from Banana Republic.

My hair pins were purchased from a seller on Etsy.

My pink rain boots are Hunter rain boots.

The bridesmaids each chose their own dress from Nordstroms, J.Crew, and Modcloth.

Hunter rain boots

Hunter rain boots



Kyle’s suit jacket and pants were from Express. The suit vest is from Yonkers. His tie was hand-made by a seller on Etsy.

Shawn and Ryan each had a bow tie from Etsy as well.

Carmen’s dress was purchased from Modcloth.



The fabric backdrop for our ceremony was made with help. I cut the fabric into strips, and friends and family glued and assembled them.

The paper flags down the aisle were hand-cut by yours truly. My wonderful bridesmaids placed them along the aisle way.

The chalkboards were the original windows from a house built in 1913 near my yoga studio. I purchased them, cleaned them up, and Kyle painted them with 3-4 coats of chalkboard paint. My bridesmaid, wrote the selected sayings on each.

The paper doily table-runners were made by me.

The fabric bunting hanging from the rafters at the reception was made by my bridesmaid for her wedding. She kindly let me borrow them for my wedding.

The white flower arrangements at the ceremony were hand-made by my friend for her wedding. She graciously allowed me to borrow them for mine.

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake


Well, that should be the answer to all of the questions I have received so far! Let me know if there’s anything I didn’t answer that you wanted to know about.

As a child, the highlight of the Easter season for me was the Easter egg search. I understood that the holiday was a time of religious renewal, but the thrill of the hunt spurred me into a spiritual fervor in a way that hymns could not. My mother misunderstood my restlessness as a manifestation of spring fever after the seemingly unending dormancy of winter.

Easter Sunday arrived with a burst of sunshine after a week of overcast skies and the menacing threat of a torrential flood. My body hummed with anticipation as I jammed my arms into my jacket. I was eleven years old, and this was the last year that I would be considered a child in my church. There would not be another chance, no more Easter egg hunts after this.

The lines of the parking lot had long since been bleached into obscurity by the indomitable sun. Cracks spidered across the pavement, forming slender chasms which sprouted weeds and wildflowers. My Mary Janes slapped loudly against the concrete as I ran inside the church to seek out my comrades. Unfortunately, the youth minister was ill, so the children were forced to remain with the adults.

An eternity passed. The incomprehensible sermon buzzed around my ears like a swarm of mosquitos I longed to swat away. I balled my hands into fists and was about to shriek when Pastor abruptly drew the service to a close.

Pastor’s wife instructed all of the children to migrate into the parking lot for the hunt to begin. We received our baskets and instructions. As I listened with half an ear, I took careful notes of which eggs I could see already, and I planned my route accordingly. Nevertheless, a blurb of speech entered my consciousness.

“There are many eggs, but there is only one special prize. The Easter egg hunt begins now!”

I hesitated for a moment and sought for clues as to where the special prize might have been secreted away. A ring of brush and trees surrounded the parking lot; the willowy branches were already sprouting small green buds. Renewal. A small discoloration at the edge of my survey caught my eye. There was a tiny glimmer of gold in a brush pile on the perimeter of the parking lot.

I raced across the asphalt, the lacy layers of my pink dress frothed about my knees as I ran. I jumped heartily into the brush, twigs and vines snatching at my delicate stockings. I rooted through the debris like a pig searching for truffles, flinging dead leaves and dirt around without care. I could see it, the flash of gold beckoned like a siren’s song.

After a tussle with a particularly nasty handful of decaying vines, I was victorious! A shower of russet soil sprinkled my brow as I held the golden egg above my head. Each fleck of earth washed over me like a baptism of triumph. Pastor’s wife smiled indulgently at me while the other children stared jealously.

“The egg is only a placeholder. The real prize is waiting inside.” She told me as she brushed some of the dirt off of my face.

I walked into the church a champion, proudly displaying the egg which I refused to place in my basket with its more unrefined, plastic brethren. I followed Pastor’s wife into the half-lit children’s room which had been unused that day. She carefully handed me a large book, a collection of stories from the Bible. I cherished it for many years, remembering my victory fondly whenever I lifted its purple cover.

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