Chapter 22

In health and in sickness

Illustration by Paloma Agüera

Even before most of the guests arrived, when I was alone at the altar going over the words written down on a sheet of paper already crumpled by my nerves, he was already there, occupying a chair among a hundred empty ones. Before pronouncing “we are all gathered here today” I could see him in the audience as he moved spasmodically, kicking the person in front of him, staining his suit with a drool that didn’t seem to want to fall off at all. Before my sister in white walked in, and he turned around, fell to the floor and got up on his own, as if no one had seen the father of the bride swinging and falling several times. Before all that, he, too, was already there looking at me.

– We want you to be our master of ceremonies – I was asked, and this was the first before.

Suits and gowns sit on white-painted wooden chairs from which hang colorful flowerpots. The groom’s family takes up most of them, my father takes up all of them. Many wave at me and others come over to clink clink with my beer, the one that helps me calm my nerves, the one that refreshes me in this sunny courtyard in early July and the one that makes him more fuzzy, now that his movement disorder bothers not only me, but all the guests who seem to play it down.

When the brothers of the husband-to-be appear with the wedding rings, the entire audience is standing silently watching the tender scene of the married couple turning around and waiting for the ring that will unite them forever. My father, however, who fixes his eyes on me with a blank stare, starts making compulsive sounds with his throat, rips off his PEG tube and starts walking down the aisle towards the engaged couple, towards the altar, without anyone saying anything to him.

– Receive this wedding ring as a token of my love – says my sister, who is now guarded by my father, staggering behind her, his eyes on me.

– By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

The audience applauds. The bride and groom walk hand in hand down the aisle between the chairs, stopping from time to time for a pat on the back, a hug. My father walks away, leaving the property I catch up with him to ask why he doesn’t stay for the party, that we still have to celebrate, but he tells me he only came to remind us who we are but, above all, because he didn’t want to miss the “you may kiss the bride”. 

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