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The Wedding

Celebrating in Cameroon

I first met Edward at St. Valentine’s orphanage when he was very young. He was only 7 years old when he made the harsh transition from his village to the bleak shell of a building he was suddenly to call home. Uprooted, neglected and forced to grow up much too soon, I watched him grow exhausted from carrying the weight of the world on his small shoulders.

Like many of the boys at St. Valentine’s, Edward was exceptionally smart and desperate to learn. I could see his potential even at that young age and when given an opportunity to attend school, he worked diligently despite lacking the structure of a traditional family. Edward overcame seemingly insurmountable odds through tremendous effort and sheer force of will. Our family took him into ours and now, almost 20 years later, he has a successful career overseas, earns a good living and is ready to start his own family.

Today Edward is getting married.

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To be included on his special day is an incredible honour. I’m not sure what to expect as seven Canadians pile into the van. We’ve been asked to contribute a dish for the potluck reception and with our limited culinary resources, it was determined that potato salad would be a safe bet.

Some women wear outfits made of traditional fabrics that have been exquisitely tailored. Others have beautiful crowns of intricate, multi-hued braids. The men look cool in stylish suits that belie the scorching temperatures. Meanwhile, we wilt in the heat, using our shawls as towels.

As I watch Edward dance his bride up the aisle (and dance to sign the registry, and dance to cut the cake…) I can’t help but wonder: do these people know how he struggled and what he went through to get to this place? Do they understand the enormity of seeing him come full circle in this moment, creating the family that he was denied?

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I’m called to sit at the head table alongside those closest to him. I can’t look him in the eye because I know if I start to cry, I might not stop. The pride I feel for this gentle, smart, handsome, strong, kind and generous man threatens to burst my heart wide open.

Today Edward is getting married.

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