The first day Constance and Tera met, we were attending her wedding shower. Wedding showers tend to be dull for adults so I didn’t imagine Constance wanted to stay long. On the way there, I asked Constance’s Father if he had told Tera that Constance might need to leave early. By that, I meant that she might have disruptive behaviors that would result in us leaving early. For example, the prior week at our place of worship, Constance interrupted worship by loudly singing and acting out London Bridges. There was no shushing her out of it. They all had to fall down. Constance’s father dropped us off, assuring us that Tera understood and was cool. I had the skeptical face of a woman who had arguments about Constance with aunties, cousins, and nanas. Nevertheless, I went in.
Constance and I sat down at a round table making polite hellos to our table-mates. As soon and we settled in, Tera left the head table and came over to meet Constance. I was surprised for several reasons: first, she was the guest of honor; if anything, we should go to her.
Second, we were probably the least important people there, that had family flown in from all over creation. Third, Constance would not have cared or even noticed if she met the guest of honor or not so Tera was burning these calories making an effort for her. I was immediately impressed. Then Tera presented Constance with a gift of stickers, a coloring book, and crayons. I wanted to cry; I was so touched. Here it was, Tera’s special day, and she’d gone out of her way for Constance. We thanked her profusely and Constance began to color.
Tera was marrying Constance’s uncle David. David was Constance’s father’s and my realtor when we bought our house in Highland Park. David suffered through me rejecting homes based on the neighbors’ political signs; he was exceptionally patient. At a later party for wedding guests, Tera told me that she had a cousin with a child with autism and so was more sensitive to their needs. Having now known Tera for several years, I know that to be true. Since then, Tera and David have had two beautiful baby girls who always invited Constance to their birthday parties.
Last month, David and Tera asked Constance’s father to be a godparent to their daughter. She’s getting baptized this weekend. It was a huge honor because they have many family members and friends to choose from. The baptism is coming up this weekend.
Subsequent to Constance’s father accepting this offer, Tera texted me and asked me if I would be willing to be the photographer at the baptism. I hadn’t planned on attending because it seemed like the kind of thing that would smash my heart into pulp and gore. I am the kind of person who takes photos everywhere. I like flipping through photos and remembering. I am not a professional photographer. Instead, I own a very expensive smartphone thanks to accidentally smashing my last one while attempting to help remodel Constance’s bathroom for her earlier this year. Tera knows me well enough to know that I run a charity for a living and not photo shoots. She just wanted to appoint someone who would take the job seriously. I am that person. I told her I would ask Constance’s father if he minded and then follow up with her. He didn’t care and so I said yes.
In the weeks leading up to the baptism, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of terror about attending the baptism. I was worried that I would be crying so hysterically during the ceremony that I would be a distraction and take focus away from the reason we were there. I felt the baptism looming over my head like Linus’ cloud. I didn’t want to go and ruin the event but I didn’t want to let Tera down. Tera is such a kind person and since the day she met Constance she was wonderful to her.
I whined into my wine about it to my friend Vanessa. Vanessa made three very compelling points: first, Tera probably gave me this job because she wanted to involve me in some way and she knew I would be taking lots of photos regardless and second, Tera is clearly a kind person who won’t want to make me uncomfortable. Finally, no one wants the baptism to turn into an event where everyone is comforting the hysterical bereaved mom. I thought about it and agreed.
Nervously, I asked Tera if she’d mind if she appointed someone else as photographer. I hated disappointing her but the thought of making a snotty spectacle of myself trumped it. She was her normal, gracious, and understanding self. I thanked her for her understanding and Vanessa for the great advice. Now that the baptism is coming this weekend, I feel content with the knowledge that I won’t be ruining it.