Happiness at last, under Mamma's watchful eyes
Alejandro J. Diaz
Cesar, my younger brother, was finally about to become a married man. And aside from the births of my nieces and nephew, Lissette, Michael, and the newest addition to our family, Isabella, my brother's wedding was one of the most cherished events of our lives, especially after recently living through some very difficult moments.
Published on LatinoLA: July 26, 2003
We had lost our beloved Mother to cancer a few years back, and it hadn't been easy moving on without her. Although we had tried putting on a joyous facade during past gatherings, there was always, nonetheless, a hint of sadness lingering among us.
We were all born and raised in Chicago. I left my hometown several years ago to pursue a life-long dream. When I think back at my life in Chicago, many things stand out. Lissette and Michael were still just babies, my niece Isabella was not yet even a thought in my sister's mind, and my brother was still year's away from laying eyes on the woman who would one day become his wife. But the most significant aspect about that time was that Mamma was still in our lives.
We are a close family filled with passion and concern for each other, and it?s tough being so far from them. In a perfect world we'd all live just minutes away from one another. I'd be able to invite my sisters out to dinner when I pleased, I'd be able to meet my brother and his new wife for coffee on a whim, and I'd be able to take my nieces and nephew to a movie or a ballgame on an afternoon's notice.
But when one is pursuing certain career aspirations, and doesn't have the means to travel back and forth, we are then subjugated to endure with this reality until we truly have the will to change it.
The saddest of all of this is feeling the years go by through the children's growth. I was there for the births of Michael and Lissette. I changed their diapers, I helped nurse them through illness, and I was there to meet them after their very first days of school.
By the time Isabella came around though, I was already living in California so I didn't meet our newest family member until she was well into her first year. When I did finally lay eyes on her, I wept like a child, knowing she was the very first of future grandchildren that would never personally feel the love and warmth that was Mamma.
Through the years we've all at least tried to remain actively involved with one another just how my mother would have wanted it. So now, just four years after experiencing the most painful chapter in our lives, we came together once again to celebrate another momentous occasion in our family's history, Cesar's wedding.
Being the best man I arrived a full week before the nuptials. My sister Liz and her son Michael joined us from Florida a few days after me. The Diaz family was once again all under one roof.
Our time was filled with last-minute details, tuxedos, music, the rehearsal dinner and all of the other things that need to be tended to for such an event. My brother's wedding was of course the main purpose of my visit but I also connected with old friends, ate at my favorite pizzeria, and reminisced with my brother and sisters about old times. The beautiful thing about family is that even though you may not see each other often enough, once you do meet up again you simply pick up where you last left off.
After a busy week my brother's wedding day was finally upon us. The night before, Cesar, invited Michael and I to accompany him on his last night of bachelorhood at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. My brother has always done things with gusto and this was another one of his adventures.
We checked in at about 9:00 PM we didn't even get the chance to enjoy the sauna, the gym, or any of the other amenities, but the mere fact that we were together on this special evening was well worth the stay. We watched some TV, talked a bit, had a late dinner, and then went off to bed. The following morning we got up bright and early to get ready for the big day; the other groomsmen met up with us in the room a bit later. Between the photographer taking pictures, and all of us guys trying to get these monkey suits right, the scene became nothing less than chaotic.
As the chaos tapered off and the guys filed out one by one my brother and I were left alone. I adjusted his cumberbun and he was set. We stood there looking out at the incredible view of our hometown. We then turned to one another, and without saying a word, acknowledged all of the triumphs, struggles, and losses we had recently gone through as a family.
We felt the loneliness that was in his heart before he met Giuliana, and we remembered Mamma who had always longed for the day where she would see her sons happily married off.
So with tears in our eyes we embraced as only brothers can. Cesar was on his way to experience the world with the woman he loved, and off to soon start his own family.
It was a proud moment for Maria Diaz?s boys.
The wedding party was picked up and driven around the city by an old trolley. The ceremony took place in this old Catholic Church right in the heart of the city's Italian neighborhood, it was a real Chicago wedding.
After many pictures the reception was finally underway. There was a live band, a DJ, and mariachis in honor of our mother. My new sister-in-law took great care to get every imaginable detail just right. She did an amazing job! Everyone invited had a wonderful time.
As the festivities went on, I looked around and saw my sisters, Ninfa, Liz, and Patty, my brother-in-law Ruben, my nieces Lissette and Isabella, my nephew Michael, and Cesar with his new bride, Giuliana, all dancing the night away.
It had been so long since I had last seen complete happiness in their eyes.
And as I turned from the dance floor I saw Mamma sitting at the head of our table smiling. She was happy to see that her family had continued to live.
Alejandro J. Diaz:
Alejandro J. Diaz is a writer and filmmaker originally from Chicago.