As if helping people, working with them at their happiest times in life, and traveling all over the world isn’t good enough – there’s yet one more reason why I absolutely LOVE what I do. That reason is my friend Liz’s family, for whose family I have truly become “Their Personal Cantor”. Let me tell you more….
I became invested as a Cantor in 2004, and shortly after my investiture, my friend Liz, who I worked with professionally at the time, was also single, and dating. Since I was a bit older than she was, I always had to check out who she was looking at and talking to, and give my approval to. Well, in a separate post you can read about Scott & Liz’s courtship and marriage, but – because I was so closely involved with their first meeting, they asked me to marry them, and I did! I had performed weddings before, but this one was SO special. She was my friend, and now, so was Scott.
Almost immediately, as was their plan, Scott and Liz got pregnant with Jordyn, the cutest little girl ever! (Well, except for my niece, Alexa – sorry guys…) As her pregnancy was moving further along, Liz called me and asked me to officiate her baby naming, which I would have LOVED to do, but she did it on Thanksgiving weekend that year, and I had already been hired to officiate a naming in Atlanta for a friend, so I was unable – that made us very sad, because it just wasn’t going to be the same. “Next one”, I promised…and they agreed.
Since I had worked with Liz, I got to know her mom, Debra, who is one amazing woman. I love her. She is rough and tough on the outside, and as soft as a marshmallow on the inside. Debra would give her life for her kids, and I’m sure, many times, she felt as though she did. Through my relationship with Liz, I also got to be quite friendly with Jamie, Liz’s brother, who also worked with us in the same office. (We were all in the recruiting industry at the time. They still are, but obviously, I left to follow my heart..)
Jamie’s dating adventures were frequently topics of interest in our conversations, but one day, Jamie met Camille, and the rest was history. Camille is stunning – inside and out, but I’ll talk more about her later. As I got closer with this family, I always knew Liz and Jamie had a super special relationship with their grandma, Agnes. Agnes lived an amazing life, and was so fortunate to live a long one, full of love, children, family, and good times. She died just a few months ago, and at the time she passed away, Liz called me to tell me about her grandmother, and asked me to officiate her funeral. The family couldn’t possibly want anyone else to do it, she said, and I was there. I put all of my other work aside, and immediately became immersed in this family, the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, everyone. No different from any other family in mourning, but this was somehow MY family, and I felt their pain as if it were my own. I chanted El Malei Rachamim at the funeral, and when I sang this beautiful melody, I was transported to a different place somehow. My feet on the floor, but my heart rose above, and again, I knew, I was in the perfect place. Helping this family through a difficult time, I somehow felt that I could take some of their pain away, and I hope they would tell you that I did.
Well, we all knew at the time of Agnes’s funeral that we had happier days to look forward to together. Jamie and Camille’s wedding was scheduled for June 7th, and we were so excited! Just knowing we had that happy occasion to celebrate made everyone feel better, in joyous anticipation of the day that they would walk down the aisle, and of course – I would officiate their wedding.
Ok, so, back to Camille. Last December, I officiated a Bar Mitzvah for a mutual friend of ours on a RCCL cruise ship, and Jamie was a guest on that cruise as well. I knew he was bringing Camille, but he hadn’t yet officially proposed. I was excited to meet her, and she was everything everyone had said – and more. She was the perfect balance for Jamie – fun, beautiful, a little bit bad girl – but mostly good – and very grounded. She had a little boy named Gaige, who Jamie had really become a father figure to, and they had just bought a house together, and were getting ready to move in. I told them I wanted to do their wedding, but that was a bit off in the future, and they weren’t ready to think about that yet.
Until a few months later, when they were settled in, and then I got the call from Liz. “Jamie and Camille got officially engaged, and you need to call them”, she said. So I did. Jamie and Camille wanted a very different wedding than what Scott and Liz had, but, it was still beautiful, warm, spiritual, and most of all – it focused on what was important. The very special love between Jamie and Camille, that anyone can see when they are together. It was simple and non pretentious, but it was personal, and all about Jamie and Camille. That’s how I want my weddings. Camille called me yesterday to say they had just gotten back from the honeymoon, and to thank me for performing a beautiful wedding. There’s no greater feeling than to stand at the union of two very special people, feeling their love for each other, and everyone’s love for them as a family, and to know that I made it official. But not only did I make it official, I became even more so, this family’s “personal cantor”, friend, family member, and spiritual partner. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be part of their lives in this way, and now, I’m looking forward to next week, when Liz gives birth to her 2nd child on June 27th. (a boy this time… Again, I won’t get to do the ceremony, but I will get to say a few prayers) Of course, Liz had to go schedule the bris on another holiday – so July 4th, when everyone is lighting fireworks, we will be welcoming a beautiful little boy into the family, together. Truly a cause for celebration…