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I’ve mentioned my favorite cousin Vanessa before in one of my posts. Well, she’s getting married this year on April Fools’ Day. She swears it’s no joke, but something deep inside me thinks she’s secretly planning her revenge on the world. It may sound crazy, but she has just the temperament to pull it off. Is this really going to be her blessed wedding day? Or the best western-themed party of the century. We shall see.

One inducement that makes me believe she may be telling the truth about her coming nuptial is the fact that she’s going to wear my wedding dress and veil. Yes, the very dress I wore on the happiest day of my life, sixteen years ago to the sweetest, sexiest man alive. How did this come about?

We would need to go way back to 1987, when I was a sixteen-year-old New Waver and she a wicked slip of a girl nine years my junior. I can still see her on a particular New Year’s Eve at Aunt Pam’s house on Baker Street in San Francisco. She was wearing an oversized men’s t-shirt with a wide belt, slightly pushed down and to the right, no shoes and wild hair; her eyes were everywhere. I thought she was the closest thing to an elf or an Irish fairy. Elusive, laughing all the time, surviving her childhood best she could. I used to try to hold her, like I did all my cousins, nieces and nephews, but she’d always squirm her way out of my arms, and run away screaming and laughing.

Little did I know, as the years passed she sort of looked up to me. She would secretly go into my bedroom, look through my things, put on my perfume and steal my favorite sweater. All without a trace that she’d ever been there. At one point she lived with us and I had the little sister I’d always wanted, but she remained elusive.

It was years – a near death car accident, the birth of her son and believe-it-or-not Facebook, before Vanessa and I became friends. I’d just been laid-off from UC Berkeley due to budget cuts, when she invited me to the premier of New Moon and on a road trip to Forks, WA right after the movie. A real bona fide “TwiHard” adventure. How could I resist?

On that trip, while her buddy slept in the backseat, Vanessa and I talked about our lives and how we’d got to the point where we could forgive our pasts, and more importantly, how our faith in God has been our saving grace. It was so nice to catch up with her after years of brief encounters at baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays and weddings. As I listened to her talk about her mother and being a mom herself, I realized that she was all grown up, and more. I was the one who admired her now.

Not only has she survived her childhood, but she is the most amazing mother I’ve ever known. I remember as a girl she loved babies. She always wanted to hold them, feed them, speak tenderly to them – she was a real natural. Her son Joshua Tiger has very special needs, and yet he’s the happiest boy in the world. A big part of that is because of Vanessa’s love. She’s amazing with him, and works very hard to make sure he feels secure and loved. Her energy is effortless and her selfless dedication, well, she inspires me to be a better person. I’m always singing her praises to my friends and family.

Then, when Vanessa was here with her fiancé for Christmas, I had an epiphany. She still didn’t have a wedding dress, barely four months before her wedding, so why not offer mine? It took her a long time to believe I really meant it. But as she stood in my bedroom with the entire ensemble on, she positively glowed. It was one of the most precious moments of my life.

The day I married my sweet husband, my cousin was only sixteen years old. It has always been a point of sadness for me that she and her mom and our grandma couldn’t attend. Now Vanessa is thirty-two and she’s getting married. Sadly, her mother and our grandma have since passed away, but I’ll be there. I am a part of Vanessa and she is a part of me. Our bond started long ago. I can’t wait to watch her sweep down the isle on my husband’s arm, towards her future life. That is if this isn’t all an elaborate hoax. April Fools!

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