A toast…

Erin at the rehearsal for her wedding

I’ve known Erin for about 6 years now. When I first moved out on my own, she moved into the apartment above me over in Covington, Kentucky.

I had “borrowed” the window mounted air-conditioner from her unit, and when I heard the sounds of movers trudging up the steps, I knew I had to return it.

I lugged the beast up one flight and knocked on the door, “You decent?” I yelled.

She opened the door and she was more than decent. She turned out to be a rare find and wonderful human being.

Some of the most fun years of my twenties I found in the camaraderie of Erin. The fiery redhead who would turn heads with her powerful laugh, or end up dancing on the bar during last call.

There were intimate moments too, figuring out life and all the curve balls we’re thrown.

She asked me to speak at her wedding, something that gives me a small sense of terror – reading scripture in front of folks I don’t know.

Tonight was the rehearsal dinner and we walked through the ceremony step by step. I found my cue and approached the podium. It was painless. Folks I don’t know said I did a great job, and I returned to my seat and made mental notes of words to enunciate clearer.

The dinner afterward found me in the company of these strangers, who warmly welcomed me. I befriended the pastor and we chatted about rebuilding a sense of community downtown. The glasses of red wine never went empty.

As the toasts were made, I felt completely at ease with the friends and family gathered.

Collegiate buddies hinted at stories that would take an evening to share.

The groom’s sister, her devlish grin as she chided her brother.

The pause as Erin’s father choked back tears when describing the joy his daughter brought him.

Ultimately, the scene was as rich as an oil painting, velvety and warm. I realized that, as folks stood to raise their glass, it is a tradition we need to incorporate more in life – honoring one another.

I felt honored just being in the midst.